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Publisher's Summary

Lane Mercer, sent to Longview, Texas, in July, 1942, is part of a select group of women working undercover for a fledgling federal agency, the Office of Strategic Services. Assigned to protect the man carrying out President Roosevelt's initiative to build the nation's first overland pipeline to hurry East Texas crude to the troops, she discovers there is more to Longview than the dossiers implied. There is intrigue, mayhem, and danger. 

Shamed from a botched OSS mission in France, Lane struggles to fulfill her commitment in Longview and keep from drowning in guilt. Getting involved in local life is out of the question. Between family, do-gooders, and Nazi threats, she becomes knitted into a series of events that unravel all of her carefully constructed plans, revealing that sometimes the life one has to save is one's own.

©2016 Kimberly Fish (P)2018 Kimberly Fish

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Texas charm all around!

The Big Inch was my first experience using Audible. I normally go “old school” and listen to books on CD on my daily commute, but it’s getting harder to find what I want that way. Audible has a huge selection, and I'm glad I had an opportunity to experience a new format for the audio book tour for this historical fiction novel written by Kimberly Fish and narrated by Sydney Young.

One of the things I learned right away is that the speed of the narration can be adjusted with Audible, and that went a long way toward improving the listening experience. My ears and my brain seem to feel the need for the speed! Once that was adjusted, I settled in and truly enjoyed listening to The Big Inch.

This is Ms.Young’s first time to narrate an audio book, and I would have never guessed that based on the range of voices she uses to distinguish among the characters. The book is set in Longview, Texas during WWII, and the narrator’s southern accent really works in this case. I’ve listened to other non-southern narrators try to imitate our speech in the South with usually comical, if not irritating, results.

This story is about the completion of an oil pipeline, the titular ”Big Inch,” which would have been beneficial to the Allies during the war. Lane Mercer is an intelligence agent who had a traumatic experience working with the resistance in France and has been sent to Longview to act as a secretary to a military officer who is coordinating the completion of the pipeline. Her role is more than administrative, however, and she uses her keen observation skills and intelligence to keep things moving on the pipeline construction and the officer safe. Lane has family in Longview, and we gradually learn more about her upbringing and past through the course of the novel. There is a little mystery, and a little romance, but mostly The Big Inch is about all the characters who inhabit this small Texas town. The author has done a tremendous job of writing so many different distinct and well-developed characters, and Sydney Young’s narration truly shines in giving voice to them all.

My only criticism of the narration is that at times the narrator’s voice would elevate at the end of a sentence and make it difficult to follow that a new sentence had been started. And sometimes the pauses between words made it seem as though a sentence had ended. But I think that overall this was a well-narrated book, especially for a first time narrator.

As for the story itself, there were a few anachronisms that caught my ear. I’m not sure “climbing the corporate ladder” was a phrase used yet in the 1940s, and was the term sausage biscuits part of the vernacular yet? Not sure! At times, the pacing of the story was rather slow, with a lot more dialogue than action occurring. I remember it took a really long time (listening-wise) for the main character to “faint” after a shooting occurred in which she bravely saved the life of a stranger. Other than that, I truly enjoyed this historical fiction novel, primarily because I’m a native Texan, and I’m sorry to say it never occurred to me to think about what was going on in my home state during World War II! I became engaged enough in the setting and the characters to want to read the next book in the Misfits and Millionaires series, Harmon General.

I appreciated the opportunity to spend a number of enjoyable hours on my daily commute getting to know the great characters from the mind of Kimberly Fish and Sydney Young’s mellifluous narration. I would read another book by this author and listen to another audio book by this narrator, which is my high praise indeed.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Southern Charm

I do enjoy a well-researched book and as much as I love following a strong female lead, it was great seeing the reality of the era. The main protagonist, Lane seemed to persevere past the stigmas of being deferred to domestic work. That assumption actually complemented her undercover work quite well.

The story was filled with open possibilities so it was nice to not know exactly what was going to happen and the romance was adorably sweet. There was a great build and connection to the characters throughout which can be attributed both to the narrator of this audiobook and the story.

The narrator on this was a blast. She was a bit high pitched, but her accents were excellent. The pitch had me having to turn the volume up a little more than normal because it came off a little soft, but the numerous characters she brought to life compensated ten folds. She would talk through a single breathe at exciting scenes and her voice would rise and speed up and it made you stop what you were doing and get caught on that same single breathe in anticipation. Great southern charm!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Audio is as big a treat as print!

AUDIO BOOK REVIEW. 4.5 Stars. I rarely re-read books. True, it’s mostly a matter of time constraints and finding the time to read a book even once, but it’s also a matter of been there, done that. No matter how much I enjoy a story, I mostly don’t feel the need to re-visit it. Plus, there’s always a stack of new temptations waiting for me in my ever-toppling to-be-read pile. But then, THE BIG INCH was released as an audio book. Since I’d reviewed the print format of The Big Inch (a fan-girling, gushing, rave review found on Hall Ways Blog) for Lone Star Book Blog Tours, I wasn’t scheduled as a reviewer for the audio book tour. But I couldn’t resist, bought myself an audio book copy anyhow, and listened to it the next day…straight through. THE BIG INCH is a wonderful exception to my unwritten rule, and since on my second reading of the book I read with my ears, it was like a whole new story. As if immersing myself in Kimberly Fish’s world isn’t treat enough, listeners are also treated to the professional narrating debut performed by Sydney Young.

“In her world, when trust was broken, it was final.”

When I first read THE BIG INCH (did I mention fan-girling and gushing?), one of the things that I loved was how author Kimberly Fish could say so much by dropping seemingly innocuous one-liners, but which careful readers would notice were loaded with information. Narrator Sydney Young picks-up on these subtleties -- and all the nuances of words spoken -- and expresses them to perfection.

“Living with her memories was no pardon at all.”

Young gets nuance and subtlety: in her delivery of the wide cast of characters, she not only gives each character a unique voice, but through her diction, varied pacing, and inflection, she projects extra layers to the characters’ personalities. The difference between Young’s delivery of main character Lane Mercer’s internal monologue versus her voice in dialogue is the perfect example. Listeners hear the contrast and see that despite Lane’s introspective, observant, and troubled mind, she has a perkier façade for the outside world.

“Though she’d never stepped on a grenade in France, she didn’t trust Texas.”

One of the lovely aspects of Sydney Young’s narration is the authenticity of her southern accent. Certain words (soil and oil, to name two) are thoroughly Texan, others reveal just a trace of the accent, while others have a regional flair to them -- exactly right for the mixture of people from around the state who were coming to Longview during the war.

Technically speaking, the quality of the recording of THE BIG INCH is excellent. There are just a few glitches with uneven sound and one scene that seems spliced, but it’s thoroughly professional and what I would expect in an audio recording. I found listening at regular speed just a little too lazy for my enjoyment, so as is the norm for me with audio books, I increased speed to 1.25x. Sometimes, this was a little too fast (especially with Emily Tescoe’s lines), but it was especially better for listening to Theo’s Boston accent. The faster speed resolved some minor issues with too-long pauses and words with peculiar emphasis placed upon them. However, as Lane gets more emotional towards the end of the story, the faster delivery makes her sound panicked, when in reading the text, Lane seems to keep her cool. Overall, the faster speed is a more natural pace for impatient me, but it isn’t the perfect answer.

As I do with the print version of THE BIG INCH, (refer to fan-girling, gushing, rave review), I highly recommend the audio book version, too. Kimberly Fish and Sydney Young make a terrific team, and I thank them for taking me to a different world for a day. I sincerely hope that there are plans for them to reunite and bring HARMON GENERAL, book two in the Misfits and Millionaires series, to brilliant audio life. You’ve got your first sale right here.

I bought this audio book on my own, without any strings attached. Thank you to Lone Star Book Blog Tours for giving me a bonus spot on the tour where I can voice my honest opinion – the only kind I give.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Historically Authentic


There is always a first for everything in your life. The Big Inch audiobook was my first.

Author Kimberly Fish weaves an authentic historical story around a variety of characters in Longview, Texas during WWII. Within this novel are authentic touches that included mentions of Citizen Kane to the use of a hearse being used as an ambulance.

The story revolves around the main character of Lane who is working as an undercover agent. She has skills beyond what a woman would have for the 1940s. I honestly kept hoping with every word of the narration that Lane would really show her skills against bullets flying or even against the man who happens to hurt a woman that Lane covered for.

Sydney Young performed an outstanding narration of all the various characters and dialogue in this book. There were times when her voice made the main character of Lane sound wimpy at least to my ear. Because at the end of the story, I saw Lane as a strong woman who would never have a wimpy voice. The narration carried me back in time envisioning what Longview would’ve looked like. It was a story that transports you back to an era when many parts of the world were experiencing war and surviving its ravages.

Yes – I would recommend the audiobook for anyone who loves wartime history with bits of romance thrown in that is authentically told and leaves you wondering where the story is going to lead. Honestly, speaking being that it was my first audiobook, I was surprised at how long the story took to tell vs. reading the actual book. But by listening I was able to drive and imagine a time when life was a tad simpler yet exceedingly difficult due to the war.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Historical Fiction- Texas Style!

The Big Inch by Kimberly Fish is a 2017 publication.

Fascinating world war two intrigue- Texas style!

Lane Mercer’s new assignment sends her to Longview, Texas. Her mission is the keep an eye on the man in charge of the crucial pipeline that will send fuel to the troops, a necessity due to the probable German interception.

As Lane arrives in Texas, she is a still a bit rattled by the failure of her previous mission and is suffering from what we would now recognize as PTSD. As Lane settles into the East Texas community, she finds herself involved in all manner of small -town dramas, while standing up and speaking out against racism, and even lands herself in the middle of a love triangle. She also finds her current assignment to be more of a challenge than she expected.

Although, Lane may have been feeling tender and fragile when we first meet her, she’s pretty quick on her feet, and has an uncanny power of observation. As the story progresses, she rises to the occasion, shows her true mettle, and is one of the most determined women you will ever meet!

I loved this story! I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, and while I do try very hard to support Texas authors and love books set in Texas, I haven’t stumbled across any quite like this one. For those who are unaware, the pipeline the book is named after was finally given the green light after the United States entered the second world war. It was crucial because without it the Germans could intercept our oil shipments which the troops needed to do their jobs. So, Lane’s job was to see that the pipeline was not sabotaged. Her target, however, proves difficult to keep in her sights, and it turns out there is a great deal of intrigue going on in Longview, Texas, which was humorous as it was suspenseful, at times.

One minor complaint is the pacing with is just a little slow in some places, but the story is quite absorbing despite a few ebbs and flows.

Of course, for me, the big old softie, with a penchant for love stories, I was thrilled by the romantic elements in the story. Lane is a very sought- after young lady, but she’s also very independent and her career is her number one priority. While one may secretly root for one or more of Lane’s romantic prospects, I was very pleased with her choice.

Since I am reviewing the audio version of the book, I should mention the narration and the quality of the audio.

If you get the chance to add the audio, I do highly recommend it. The narrator has a very pleasing voice, and her southern inflections were nicely done. I felt as though I got a clearer picture of Lane in my mind with the audio version and could truly envision her character in the many unique scenarios in which she found herself in.

The story held my attention, which is something I occasionally struggle with while listening to an audiobook, as my mind does occasionally wander. However, I found myself listening to this one, very intently, although it seemed like it took me a while to finish it. Still, I looked forward to my daily sessions with Lane and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next in the story.

Overall, this is a terrific story centered around real events, and as a Texas resident, I enjoyed the setting and learned a bit more about Texas history, which is always fun. If you are a fan of historical fiction, I highly recommend this one! It has a bit of something for everyone, and Lane is a terrific character that will stay with you long after you finish the book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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date-specific scenes weaved together into an overa

The Big Inch is a dive into Texas Oil history during World War II. The main character is an under-cover former spy, pretending to be a secretary. Lane is a great character, who, along with a bevy of other stand-out characters, make for a compelling novel.

Let's start at the end for my review. I loved the end of The Big Inch! I'll admit that the beginning of the novel was a bit slow for me. But once the action picks up, I really began to enjoy it. The last couple of hours really caught my attention. My favorite scene in the whole book is that of Lane tossing and turning, restlessly running over her day while not sleeping. That's pretty much me on a daily basis. As the pipe line is completed, and the mysteries in the books are wrapped up, I was quite satisfied with the end of the Lane's story. There is also a great setup for the next book . No cliff-hangers here, thankfully.

The Big Inch is written in date-specific scenes weaved together into an overall story. This journal style works for the novel. We get the highlights of what is happening in Lane's life, without the day-to-day tedium. The focus of the story is that of Lane’s life while she’s working and trying to live her life.

The characters are well-rounded individuals, especially Lane. We learn the history of why she’s been positioned to help with the pipeline building. I really enjoyed the scenes with Lane and her aunt Edith. We can really see the struggle that civilians endured on the home front during World War II. Or what Edith sees as a struggle. 😉

I don't normally read other reviews for books I'm reviewing, as they tend to influence me a bit too much. But when The Big Inch originally toured with Lone Star Book Blog Tours, I read Kristine Hall's great review. What stood out to me most in the review is her comment on the love square’ in the novel. That square analogy is so true! Through most of the book, I was wondering which male character Lane would truly fall for. As a war widow, Lane is a bit gun-shy on dating anyone. The three potential suitors have their own strengths and flaws. Like Lane, I can see the appeal in each one. Mostly though, I enjoyed the witty banter between Lane and her beaus, especially Zeke. Ms. Fish does a fantastic job with the dialog between the characters. The downside of audio books is listening makes it difficult to find great quotes. Luckily, I have also the e-book to share a quote with you!

If you fall in, she called out, I'm leaving you there to rot.
If I fall in, I've got bigger problems than a bad back, so shoot me and put me out of my misery.
(Lane to Zeke, while helping him to the outhouse)


The audio narration was a hit and a miss for me. l appreciate how well Ms. Young portrayed the different characters, each with her or his own distinct voice. This is a great strength in a narrator that I can appreciate as an avid listener of audio books. It's always more enjoyable for me if I can pick out different characters from the narration. I struggled, however, with the breathy pauses and the accents. For Lane's voice, Ms. Young uses breathy pauses to express frustration and indignation. The technique works and feels conversational. But also frustrates me. I don't think I'd be able to have a conversation with a person who uses that many breathy pauses without wanting to walk away before the end of the chat. The problem with the accents is my own, not the narration. There is something about southern accents that grates on my nerves. (Yes, even though I live in Texas.) Ms. Young voices the different accents well, but my mid=western raised ears find the southern drawl displeasing. I'm always wondering if it's sincere, or over-done sarcasm.

Overall, the narration works for the novel, but I do wonder if I would remember more of the beginning of the novel if I had read it, instead of listened. I pick audio books because I can listen while doing menial tasks. While listening to the novel, I found myself loosing focus on a number of occasions. paying more attention to the other tasks at hand, instead of the novel. For me, I think the vignette style of this book would have been better read. I would have been better able to capture the essence of the story.

Either reading or listening, I'd recommend The Big Inch to fans of Texas History and/or strong female characters, with some romance and witty banter on the side.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Narrator makes book exciting

Excellent loud and clear voice and the perfect amount of emotion; easy on the ears.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The Big Inch Review

The story line of this book started out promising. And, the ending was a surprise. But, the lack of intrigue and suspense in the middle was disappointing. I enjoyed the narrator's ability to bring the characters to life with the many different voices.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Big Inch Review

The Big Inch packs a wallop of brilliant lines and inspiring women.

You think youre the only one who knows failure? For every three steps we take forward, two are covered in shit. If you can’t handle the unpredictable nature of this work, maybe you don’t need to be in Theos agency after all. – Tesco to Lane

Kimberly Fish broaches upon so many wonderful emotions and topics throughout this book, all while giving us an intricate puzzle of mysteries Lane must enfold. Lane is driven by her guilt, frustration, and dreams she hasnt fully discovered for herself. The pure and unashamed brilliance of her characters are amazing. I can’t help but think from a writers perspective and how massive this book is. Not all in pages, don’t worry readers. It’s in the mystery, in all of the individual and distinct characters. How their backstory and motivations can shine through in the first bits of dialogue.

The narrator, Sydney Young, helps with this too. Lanes wit flies off the pages, especially combined with the narrators exuberant characteristic imagination. She captures each voice with it’s own distinct flavor. Showing us her versatility in the sometimes comically energized characters to the stubborn business men. I have to give her props for bouncing between the twang, the drawl, and the high pitched voice of Minnie all in a span of a few minutes at times.

The skips and breaks moved the story along at an even pace that kept me interested. As both a reader and listener of audiobooks, I connect mainly in the internal struggle of the characters. It’s what has always inspired me to write as well. Lane has plenty of external forces forcing her out of a comfort zone she’s strategically created and putting her in danger a time or two. Inside, she’s a mess. To put it bluntly. It seems like tragedy has become a pervasive shadow that follows her. With the harsh history of her mother, the loss of a husband, and the traumatic events in Paris; Lane is one of the most complicated and interesting characters I’ve read. Her interactions with every character are intriguing and very well written. I’ve mentioned the differences of characters but it really is something I enjoyed. It wasn’t overwhelming to me but simply more and more fascinating to hear from Youngs narration. Suffice to say, I’ve kept this vague as to not spoil the several big and small surprises in this book. I personally couldn’t guess most of them correctly. Which was aggravating because I’m usually very good at that…

The Big Inch had a cinematic quality as well. Lets get going Hulu or Netflix. Chop Chop. I’d like my strong women spy/romance thriller yesterday please and thank you.

Theres not many downsides to this book. Especially to a reader that enjoys this genre. While it’s not my first choice, I obviously enjoyed it quite a bit. It had a great sense of balanced writing to keep you entertained. Young also is very talented in narrating and I could hear her potential for improving as well. The only thing that was an issue were the pauses she tended to take. At some points, it was to create tension or the meaning, but others seemed random at times. Still, after a few chapters, it was easy to acclimate to it. This book can be enjoyed in different ways. When I wasn’t able to use headphones, I tended to simply grab the book and start reading. This made it more intriguing as I was able to picture the characters in new ways and also read the action scenes how I like. Youngs narration also brings you steadily through the beginning of the book, which starts a bit slow before picking up. By being able to listen to it, it was easy to remain interested throughout the introductions and buildup.

All in all, this was some well-research and impressive writing. Id recommend it to those that love mysteries, period dramas, strong women characters, and historical fiction. Or just anyone that likes reading. You know who you are.