4 May 2012

Review: Secrets of Roux River Bayoux by Kathy Herman

Today's review is actually the three books in the Secrets of Roux River Bayeux. The murder plots are stand-alone, the subplots are related and I would recommend reading the books in order, back-to-back, as there is a large cast of characters that can become confusing. I know the author has thought of little other than these books, but they each appeared six or seven months apart, which means I had forgotten some of the first book before I read the second (I learnt, and read the second and third together).  
Ten years ago, Shelby Sieger changed her name and left her home, bound for Lafayette and a new life…

Vanessa and Ethan Langley have just moved into Langley House, with the intention of turning it into a B&B. But Langley House has a six-generation history that includes its share of ghosts.  Meanwhile, they are renting an apartment from Zoe and Pierce Broussard while Langley Manor is being renovated. Pierce and Zoe run a cafe together.

Trouble begins when a white man, the simple-minded Remy Jarvis, is lynched just 200 yards from Langley Manor. Meanwhile, Zoe starts getting anonymous notes, each the same five words cut from the newspaper: I know what you did. Her past is a secret from everyone, including her husband.  Does someone know? If so, what do they know? And what will she do to prevent her secrets becoming known?  The answers to these questions are slowly uncovered as the story progresses.
Dangerous Mercy begins around three years after the end of False Pretenses, which could have been made clearer. The story opens with the discovery of a murder victim, a businessman who has been found dead in his own bathtub. More disturbingly, “#1” has been written on the wall, -implying there will be more victims—and there are. As in False Pretenses, Zoe B’s restaurant becomes the central area where all the community characters meet and discuss what is happening in their town, especially when one of the victims is more closely related to them.
(I have to say that the North American convention of referring to # as the pound symbol annoyed me. I call it the hash symbol. To me, the pound symbol is 'lb' for weight, or £ for currency. And # is a hashtag on Twitter). Dangerous Mercy finishes with a clear gospel message without being saccharine or preachy. Overall, it was a good read, but was weaker than the first book in the trilogy.

Relentless Pursuit begins two years after the events in Dangerous MercyMore murders are occurring in Belle Fourche, this time as a result of poison injected into locally-bottled water. This gives the police two problems: catching the culprit based only on a grainy security camera photo, and ensuring that all the bottles of water sold are located before anyone else dies.

While the murder hunt is going on, there is a visitor in town - Zoe’s brother, who has returned to find the sister he abandoned many years ago. They had an abusive father, and Zoe has to work on forgiving her brother for not taking her when he left. Even though she has been a Christian for many years, she still finds this difficult.

Overall, I enjoyed this series, even though the concept of a murder mystery where the police force where not the main character was a novel concept (if you will excuse the pun), and I did work out who did it before the police in two out of the three books, and I prefer that the culprit not be so obvious. The books are well-written, the characters are strong and likeable, but not perfect, and the setting is well done. These are solid mysteries with underlying themes of faith and forgiveness.

Kathy Herman is now working on another trilogy, Tales of Foggy Ridge, which will be set in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, and will contain some characters from this series. Thanks to David C Cook and NetGalley for providing free ebooks for review.

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