Trying to promote and market a novel written by an unknown author and published by a small Catholic publishing house is no easy task; but it sure is a heck of a lot easier when you have friends in your corner who post reviews of your book on Amazon, or on their blogs and websites; or who send you Facebook messages out of the blue, filled with encouraging words; or who pass your book on to family members and friends when they're finished with it themselves. (More than sales, even, I am interested in readers!) There are some special people who have gone above and beyond to offer whatever support they can, and I don't know if I'll ever be able to properly express how grateful I am for the gift of their friendship.
Among the long list of people who have been so wonderful to me are three Catholic authors: Ellen Gable Hrkach (whom I had the pleasure to meet, finally, in August, at the Catholic Writers Guild Conference), Therese Heckenkamp (whom I haven't met--yet!--but who was the first person to take a chance on my book and list it on her Catholic-Fiction.com website), and Amy M. Bennett (who has been my e-buddy/Facebook friend ever since she read Finding Grace, on Therese Heckenkamp's recommendation, and contacted me afterward, and whom I hope to meet one day). I have read books written by all three of these women, and I thought I'd use the WWRW forum to spread the word about the good work they are doing by writing clean, engaging fiction that both entertains and inspires. This Wednesday, it is my pleasure to share a recent review I wrote for Amy M. Bennett's murder mystery/suspense novel, End of the Road.
I just finished reading this terrific, engaging, page-turner of a mystery/suspense debut novel by Amy M. Bennett--and it left me thirsting for a sequel!
Corrie Black, the beautiful, spunky, raven-haired owner of Black Horse Campground (which she has been running on her own since the death of her beloved father, Billy Black Horse), is used to peaceful summers in fictional Bonney County, NM, surrounded by a group of loyal longtime friends and a collection of repeat customers who have become almost like family to her. She is shocked when Marvin Landry, who has been vacationing at the campground for many years with his wife Betty, is shot in his RV--in cold blood, in broad daylight. Marvin seems to be the most unlikely victim of such a crime; and thus begins an investigation into this bizarre murder, led by Corrie's childhood friend and former flame, a great-looking man of few words named Sheriff Rick Sutton. One prime suspect emerges right away: a handsome, mysterious, and secretive stranger named J.D. Wilder, who just so happens to have pulled into the campground on his Harley under the cover of darkness--the very night before the murder.
That's all I'm going to give you in the way of details, because I don't want to spoil the plot for you. But I will say that although the "who-done-it?" genre is not one that I'm normally drawn to, Bennett has made a convert out of me. "Was it J.D.?" I kept wondering. "And if not him--then WHO?"
But even without the attention-grabbing murder mystery at the heart of this story, I would have wanted to keep reading, if only for the enjoyment of Bennett's writing style and her excellent character development. Not to mention the fact that there is an intriguing love triangle for all of us hopeless romantics. Corrie can't help but have feelings for both Rick, who's always been her rock, and J.D., who makes her heart skip a beat; they are both very attractive, and they are both real men in the best possible sense--brave, strong, and chivalrous.
For a Catholic reader, it was heartening to see that Bennett did not hesitate to include her main characters' devotion to the Catholic Faith in the book, simply by mentioning that the workers at the campground fill in for one another on the weekends for short spells so that everyone has the opportunity to get to Mass. Religion is so often denigrated in modern fiction, and authors so often take pains to make sure readers know that their characters either have no religious affiliation or don't believe in God at all; thus, I found the simple references to Mass-going utterly refreshing.
Amy M. Bennett is a talented writer who won the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) contest in 2005. End of the Road actually started out as a 2009 NaNoWriMo project and was completed two years later. It was the winner of the 2012 Dark Oak Mystery Contest, and I can surely understand why. It is a winner.
Although the mystery of Marvin's murder was solved by the end of this book, the love triangle wasn't--I hope that sequel's coming, Amy.
P.S. Coming in future WWRW posts: reviews of Therese Heckenkamp's Frozen Footprints and Ellen Gable Hrkach's In Name Only.
P.P.S. Don't forget to check in at Jessica's for more book talk.