“Dance on His Grave” Review & Audiobook Giveaway!

14538706Well butter my buns and call me a biscuit! Oh how I love Southern mysteries set deep in the heart of the hauntingly beautiful East Texas-Louisiana borderlands.  Sylvia Dickey Smith has mastered the art of evoking a sense of dread in her lyrical atmospheric descriptions of the mysterious bayou country.  Moody atmosphere, colorful characters, good food and one heck of a strong-willed protagonist are all key ingredients for a quality Southern fiction novel. This author delivers all of these things in spades in her Sidra Smart mysteries. That’s why I put Sidra Smart on the top of my list of favorite Southern detectives—right next to David Robichauex, Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. If you haven’t heard of those other guys, I advise you to Google James Lee Burke and Joe Lansdale immediately!

In this first installment of the Sidra Smart Mystery Series, Sid has emancipated herself from a loveless, sheltered marriage. No longer an obedient preacher’s wife, she’s thrust into a whole new world of independence and opportunity.

She reaches a crossroads when she inherits her dead brother’s PI business. With zero knowledge of how to run a business—let alone solve mysteries—she’s ready to sell it off to the lowest bidder. Yet when her controlling ex-husband tries to push her into doing just that, she decides to slap on her gumshoes out of sheer defiance! And really, that’s what I love about Sidra Smart. She’s bold, brave and ready to take on new adventures, despite the legions of naysayers who will stop at nothing to watch her fail.

Before she’s ready to pick up a  copy of “How to Run a PI Business for Dummies,”  her first client walks in with a cold case that would stump even Sherlock Holmes. Despite her best interest, Sidra agrees to look into the 30-year-old mystery revolving around two innocent girls caught up in an unimaginable world of horrors.  The horror show intensifies as she looks deeper into the case and discovers a tangled web of town secrets, torture and arson. Trust me, once you get to know the villain, you’ll understand the meaning of the book’s title, “Dance on His Grave.”

The plot thickens when Sid finds a connection between the bizarre cold case and her brother’s mysterious car accident. And just with any good thriller, the danger heats up as our heroine gets closer to the truth. Who is sneaking into her home and leaving ominous threats? Is it her ex-husband’s God-fearing disciples, or could it be a demented child-abusing killer? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

With some help from her newfound friend and fellow PI, George Leger, she carries on with the case—even when all hope seems to be lost.  She also gets a little help from her meddlesome Aunt Annie, who is always there to help Sid pick up the pieces when the chips are down. I’m especially fond of the Cajun-speaking George, who’s interesting enough to have his own spinoff story.

This is not your typical amateur sleuth mystery, mainly because there are some really weighty issues at the core of the story. Some of the descriptions of are rather dark and disturbing, so this book is not for the squeamish. Filled with punchy dialogue, cliffhanger chapter endings and unspeakable crimes, this book is somewhat of a mash-up of Karin Slaughter meets Gillian Flynn with a Cajun twist. Hard-boiled mystery fans are sure to enjoy this puzzling whodunit.

Enter to Win a Free Audiobook!

imagesU9JY9PEDI should also mention that the author gave me this book via Audible.  The narrator did a fantastic job unfolding the story in a somber tone. Unlike other narrators who drive me bonkers with their rapid-speed chipmunk-on-crack storytelling, she did a stellar job keeping the pace and capturing Sid’s voice.  I highly recommend listening to this on audio. In fact, the author has offered to give away a free audiobook. All you have to do is post a comment answering the following question and the winner will be picked at random. Don’t fret if you’re not an Audible member.  You can still receive the audiobook without an account.

Who is your favorite thriller author?

“Third Eye” Mystery Series: “Deadly Sins, Deadly Secrets” and “Dead Wreckoning”

Last Halloween I wandered into a random book tent at the Texas Book Festival and found myself chatting with Sylvia Dickey Smith, author of  the “Third Eye” mystery book series. Won over by her sweet southern charm, I bought a copy of  “Deadly Sins, Deadly Secrets,” stashed it in my bag of books and moseyed on my way in hopes of bumping into one of my favorite Texas authors. Not expecting too much from an unknown mystery author, I decided to scan the first couple pages just to see if it was worth my time. Fifty pages later, I found myself fully immersed in an absorbing world of romance, mystery and (be still my heart!) ghosts.

Move over Stephanie Plum and Annie Darling because there’s a new sassy sleuth on the scene and boy is she a firecracker! After escaping decades of confinement as a preacher’s wife, Sidra Smart returns to her sleepy East Texas hamlet to take over the reigns of her dead brother’s “Third Eye” detective agency. Just when she starts to get her bearings, her office burns to the ground and her apartment is yanked out from under her. With an empty wallet and limited options, Sidra has no alternative but to room with her endearingly neurotic aunt in a spooky 19th century haunted house. Just when life couldn’t get more complicated, she befriends a crotchety geezer in desperate need of proving his son’s innocence in a grizzly murder case. With a little help from a ghostly sidekick, a lanky, floppy-eared hound, a meddlesome aunt, and a trusty Cajun-tongued detective, Sidra combs through a lurid web of secrets, lies and deceit.

In the third installment of Smith’s mystery series, “Dead Wreckoning,” Sidra finds herself in a boatload of trouble – pun intended! Strapped for cash and in desperate need of a paying client, the last thing Sidra needs is a pro-bono case. But when Boo, a cantankerous old recluse who resides in the bellows of the Big Thicket, is framed for a murder involving a ghost ship and modern-day pirates – how could Sidra say no? Against the wishes of her mentor, George Leger, and her protective fiancé,  the ferociously independent PI probes into the case and finds that even the people she trusts the most are not who they appear to be. Steeped in a humid, eerie deep south atmosphere, “Dead Wreckoning” is a solid who-done-it rife with all my favorite elements – loveable furry companions, ghosts, mystery and romance! 

Smith, who has now been added to my dirty dozen of top mystery authors, has created a charming and winning character in Sidra Smart. With her atmospheric descriptions of rural East Texas, and character-driven plots, she has a real knack for crafting a quality thriller.