The Bottom Line: A sexy, small town murder mystery that’s guaranteed to resonate with fans of Nora Roberts and Karin Slaughter.
The rustic charm of Berry Spring, Arkansas’s dense forests, mountains and small town living is a powerful draw. But like all tiny Ozark towns, it can also be suffocating and secretive, and that’s precisely what makes it a perfect setting for Amanda McKinney’s debut erotic thriller.
When local reporter Amy Duncan needs information, she turns to police officer Carl Winters for an illicit news briefing and a sweaty shag. But when Amy turns up dead with a mysterious symbol branded on her flesh, the sleepy town becomes awash in gossip and accusations.
Enter McKinney’s heroine, archeologist Dr. Katie Somers, who flies back home to sell her childhood home a year after her sister’s death. While there, the New Yorker has a chance encounter with local stud Jake Thomas, who just relocated from Montana. Katie’s attraction to the former Army Ranger who’s angling for an FBI career is immediate and intense. But when they stumble on a body during a hike in the woods, their lives change forever.
McKinney’s debut Berry Springs novel is an impressive one. Within the requisite small town tropes (the rugged, handsome stranger; the small town psycho; the single out-of-towner that’s just passing through), McKinney has accomplished something that is easier said than done – created an alluring sense of place in Berry Springs that crackles with energy. Adding to the intrigue are titillating sex scenes that may make some J.D. Robb fans blush, but ultimately serve to distinguish her on bookshelves.