Author Gretchen Waters made a name for herself with her best seller Tammyland - a memoir about her divorce and her admiration for country music icons Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton that was praised as a "honky-tonk Eat, Pray, Love." But her writing career is cut abruptly short when she dies from a fall down a set of stone library steps. It is a tragic accident and no one suspects foul play, certainly not Gretchen's best friend from college, Jamie, who's been named the late author's literary executor.
But there's an unfinished manuscript Gretchen left behind that is much darker than Tammyland: a book ostensibly about male country musicians yet centered on a murder in Gretchen's family that haunted her childhood. In its pages, Gretchen seems to be speaking to Jamie from beyond the grave - suggesting her death was no accident....and that Jamie must piece together the story someone would kill to keep untold.
©2012 Emily Arsenault (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
“Outstanding … Arsenault’s lyrical, moving prose serves to make this more than just a compelling whodunit.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Absorbing…. once the author's carefully laid-in pieces all jell, the result is not only a fair-play murder mystery but a novel of sweet fulfillment for the pasts of the two deceased characters and the future of their chronicler.” (Wall Street Journal)
“The characters come to life nicely, and subtle clues build to a surprising, satisfying conclusion . . . thoughtful tale of how seemingly unimportant choices can bring unexpected consequences.” (Library Journal)
When I buy a mystery I expect the mystery to be the focus of the story with well developed characters. Here the characters were well developed and flowed well but the characters, including Tammy Wynette and other country western female singers overwhelm the actual murders. I learned far more than I ever wanted to know about the life of Tammy and at least 80% of the book had absolutely nothing to do with the death of either victim. The narrators did a very good job and it was pleasant to listen to but really more of a "finding who I am and how I came to be here" book than a mystery. I would say more but I don't want to give away the plot to someone who may read it.
If you are more into romance or family saga you will appreciate this book. I prefer the actual crime and who did it to be the primary focus of a mystery. Plus there was an element of the romance genre aka silly woman - pregnant at that, putting herself in situations where injury even death could occur - aka confronting the killer after she knew who did it while in the last month of her pregnancy.
This story seems to really be mostly about the history of country western stars like Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette. The mystery part really was small and really easily figured out. The narrators did a good job but the two stories running together about the murdered woman and her friend were rather irritating and I could not really llike either woman.
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