In the 4th Promise McNeal Mystery, set in Western North Carolina, It’s been seven months since Daniel’s cousin Sheriff Mac Allen was murdered. Daniel accepted the job as interim sheriff with hopes of finding Mac’s killer. But he has few clues until Promise’s irascible neighbor Fletcher Enloe stumbles upon a puzzling mining operation near Swayback Mountain and he realizes an old Vietnam buddy may not be dead after all. While Daniel and Fletcher spend a long, cold night watching the mining site from a rotted deer stand, high in an oak tree, Promise worries about Daniel and wonders how her new marriage became so different from what she’d imagined. She hadn’t signed on to be a sheriff’s wife, or to solve a murder. Though, she doesn’t want Mac’s killer to skate free either, and the wedding vows did say for better or for worse. And worse it gets when MaMa Allen tells Promise a spirit haunting Fire Mountain is leaving the mountain to prowl among the living. Promise’s stepdaughter Susan, MaMa Allen warns, is in danger and it’s up to Promise to do something. But, as Promise sets a trap for the spirit, a frightening thunder snow moves across Perry County and the hunted becomes the hunter, exposing just how vulnerable Susan is, and how wicked a lost soul can be. Meanwhile, another murder and a red motorcycle finally give Daniel clues to solving Mac’s murder. That is, if he survives the killer’s deadly game of catch-me-if- you-can.
Fans of twisty whodunits with a slight supernatural tinge will enjoy this well-constructed mystery set in North Carolina. After the sheriff dies in an explosion, mostly-retired psychologist Promise McNeal’s husband Daniel takes over his duties on an interim basis, and finds his hands full with multiple inquiries, including one into his predecessor’s death. The characters are well-rounded, and the author does a solid job of creating a sense of place that will attract readers to future series entries. Readable prose and an unsurprising but sturdy plot make this a worthwhile read.
Date Submitted: June 14, 2016