Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Blood Red Summer

Blood Red Summer by Eryk Pruitt
5/14/24; 407 pages
Thomas & Mercer
Jess Keeler #2

Blood Red Summer by Eryk Pruitt is a very highly recommended investigational Southern noir thriller following a true crime podcaster.

After her successful debut podcast, Something Bad Wrong (also the title of the first book in the series) Jess Keeler  has been asked to join a documentary crew as the producer for a true crime TV show. When a stranger approaches her in Lake Castor, Virginia, with an idea for an investigation, she's intrigued, but the real question is if the idea will interest the investors enough to actually finance the search, with an eye on ratings.

The case is about the Lake Castor sniper who struck in 1984. The sniper terrorized the back back, a historically Black part of the old mill town, and claimed five lives. The suspect arrested and charged, Ricky Lee Patience, may not have been the actual perpetrator. There was no real look into the first four murders, but the fifth person shot, journalist Hal Broadstreet, did capture the attention of the police and community. But did they get the right man? As the investigation continues, two retired sheriffs suggest that Jess should investigate the unsolved murders from that same summer in the apartment of bootlegger Jim Fosskey and two other men.

The narrative is very compelling and will hold your attention to the end. The story unfolds between the present day point-of-view of Jess and that of Hal Broadstreet in 1984. Both are looking to solve the crimes but Hal has some insight Jess doesn't. This makes the narrative in both time periods very satisfying and equally interesting. There is a third voice that adds depth and complications to both timelines.

The writing is excellent and presents the complicated plot with what feels like ease as you are reading. The action propels the plot forward in both time periods. The suspects and characters to look into are numerous. Each new revelation and detail expands the investigation into different areas, including corruption and racism, and the twists abound. Even though it is about a podcaster, which admittedly is becoming a bit tiresome, this one is worth your time.

Blood Red Summer is going to hold your rapt attention from beginning to end. This one can stand on it's own, but the first Jess Keeler novel, Something Bad Wrong, is worth your time too. Thanks to Thomas & Mercer for providing me with an advance reader's copy via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.

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