Sandra Parshall,
Poisoned Ground
(Poisoned Pen Press, 2014)

Poisoned Ground is an excellent murder mystery, set in small, poor town under siege by a huge corporation -- a timely topic. Meanwhile, old secrets may or may not be rearing their heads....

A huge corporation wants to build a luxurious resort in the middle of a hardscrabble county ... but will do it only if everyone whose land they want agrees. Naturally, there are a few holdouts ... and the strife the corporation intentionally brings leads to various crimes that pit some residents against others.

Author Sandra Parshall includes enough backstory -- this is the sixth novel in the series -- so I could understand the relevant parts of the previous interactions among the main characters. Plus, it piqued my interest in reading the previous novels, and I plan to look them up.

The plotting was excellent, as was the pacing. It kept me turning pages long after I should have been sleeping. Various crimes occur, some lethal ... but it's not at all clear which ones, if any, are connected -- or what they're connected to. Very nicely twisty!

The writing and the characterization were solid but could be fleshed out a bit more. A plot this complicated could have used a longer novel! As it is, it's a bit terse, but is definitely written well enough to evoke the important characters, and to lay some background for those less central.

I enjoyed this mystery a lot. It's a bit too stark to be a "cozy," but has some similar elements with the intertwined community in which our sleuths live. Plus, bonus points for one being a veterinarian! If you like small-town murder-mysteries, and are OK with them being a bit more realistic than cozy, I think you'll like this.

book review by
Amanda Fisher

7 June 2014

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