The ultimate mystery ‘cozy,’ Nehring’s tale of murder and goings-on in the Arkansas Ozarks among a bunch of elderly folks in the rural backwoods near Fayetteville is a warm and enchanting tale, especially for those who like a civilized read.
First, about Radine: She is an award-winning writer and journalist, who writes about people, places and events in Arkansas for magazines and newspapers and does a weekly radio program, Arkansas Corner Community News. Her forte, until this adventure into fiction, has been that of someone who has deeply appreciated and been willing to share her knowledge of the region of Arkansas that A Valley to Die For is cast.
Last year, My wife and I ventured up to the hills around Heber Springs to spend several days at a condo, nestled among the forest there. It truly is an enchanting place and I was totally captivated by it. So, I can understand the allure of the woodlands of western Arkansas to the oldsters of Nehring’s tale, even with the occasional ice or snowfall, which only serves to add charm to the place, if not some small inconveniences.
To the story! Carrie Culpeper McCrite has lost her husband in a terrible hunting accident and relocated to the Ozarks from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Only, tragedy has followed her there—JoAnne Harrington, the independent, man-hating female that she was, has come up missing. This, during a time when neighbors in the valley are fighting the quarry operation that is threatening to destroy the beautiful tranquility and grandeur of the place where they all reside.
Then, her body is found—shot and killed in the same spot where Carrie’s husband had been found that fateful day so long ago, when he had come to Arkansas to deer hunt. Circumstantial—I wonder?
The inclusion of Henry, the tall, strong, retired Kansas City Police Major, provides the love interest for Carrie, who can’t bring herself to make up her mind about a man who shows complete tenderness for her, but who she secretly knows, holds a dark secret.
Nehring’s descriptions of the Ozarks, ala ‘frost flowers’ and ‘stone gardens’ is impressive. Her characterizations of the cast of characters, accurate. Carrie is charming, as a woman who wants to be recognized as spunky, independent and a hero. Casting the book in the Ozarks is…well, icing on the cake.
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