Welcome to the Review Tour for The House on Devil’s Bar by by Jessie McAlan. The author will be awarding a brown agate pendant to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Follow the tour by clicking on the banner image above and comment on each blog once to increase your of winning.
The House on Devil's Bar
The police verdict of a woman’s accidental drowning in the Mississippi River does more than set tongues wagging in the small Missouri town of Klim; it starts a flood of cancellations that threaten to sink Rona Murray’s bakery and events business. And blacken her good name. Determined to save both, she starts her own investigation to prove she and her property are blameless. Barbara Lindborg had stopped by Linn House to consider renting it for a party. Yet, when Rona returned from accepting a delivery, the woman had vanished.
Rona’s preliminary search for Barbara yields nothing more than suggestive footprints on the Bar. Did the woman accidentally fall into the river? Was she pushed – and if so, why? A later hunt reveals Barbara’s cell phone in the woods. How did it get halfway up the hill if the woman drowned a hundred feet below? The phone’s camera holds snaps of Klim, its residents, and the Bar. Do any of these hold a clue to her death? Or did her and Rona’s earlier conversation about history and treasure have a different meaning?
Suspects and motives pop up like bubbles in yeast. Is Matt, an employee, still bitter about his and Barbara’s divorce? What about Rona’s own ex, Johnny? Is he trying to drive her out of business, or is his current girlfriend, Crystal, jealous of their relationship and trying to eliminate the competition? A bit like calling the kettle black, for Crystal seems very friendly with Frank, the bad boy neighbor. Frank isn’t lily-white, either. He dislikes Rona; is he behind the pranks on her property or mixed up in Barbara’s death? It isn’t until Rona’s life is threatened one stormy night that she learns the killer’s identity and her true feelings about Johnny.
It was refreshing reading about an older female protagonist taking charge for once. True, you have the Miss Marples of the world every now and then, but to read one in a slightly darker setting is exciting. The House on Devil’s Bar provides something for the mystery lover and the romance lover. It balances those two genres perfectly, where the mystery is the main focal point and the romance is there but not that loud.
I was completely confident that I had the suspect pegged from the start, but that would be too easy, right? There were a lot of questions raised by the main character Rona as she tries to solve the various mysteries that are happening around her. The suspense increases as threats to her abound. Everybody she knows has a motive it seems, and the small town setting makes for an even more entertaining read.
The descriptions of the river barges and the surrounding woods made it seem like I was actually there. It adds to the ambiance and feel of the overall plot. It’s a somewhat short read, but it’s still a page turner.
Clouds cloaked the moon, and the darkness in the woods closed around her. She increased her pace. The ground and leaves were slick, causing her to lose traction. When she slid downhill the second time, she heard the whispers.
She remained where she was, her back against a tree trunk, her palms on the ground. The wind had kicked up while she’d started back from the Bar, and it sighed as it wandered through the pines. A cricket chorus grated beneath the melody, strident and sharp, punctuating the wind’s fluid lament. A crack, like someone stepping on a branch, bore through the song, and Rona froze. Was someone walking through the woods, walking without a flashlight?
Which could only mean he was sneaking up on her.
A family trip to the Big Spring area in the Missouri Ozarks introduced Jessie to the wonders of nature. Her summer stints as a camp counselor and canoeing instructor cemented her enthusiasm. This love of the natural world and the river flows through her Linn House mysteries.
In 2001 Jessie graduated from Webster University with a BA degree and departmental honors in English.
She lives in the St Louis, MO area and spends as much time as she can camping and watching the barges on the river.