Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sharon St. George - Due for Discard - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Aimee Machado is thrilled to be starting her first job as a forensic librarian at the medical center in the town of Timbergate, north of Sacramento, California. Her ebullient mood is somewhat dampened by her recent breakup with her former live-in boyfriend, Nick Alexander. And then there's a little matter of murder: on Aimee's first day on the job, a body is found in a nearby Dumpster and soon identified as her supervisor's wife, Bonnie Beardsley.

Aimee's heartbreaker of a brother and best friend, Harry, just happens to be one of the last people to see Bonnie alive, but he is hardly the only suspect. Bonnie was notorious for her wild partying and man-stealing ways, and she has left a trail of broken hearts and bitterness. Aimee is determined to get her brother off the suspect list.

Aimee's snooping quickly makes her a target. Isolated on her grandparents' llama farm where she fled post-breakup, she realizes exactly how vulnerable she is. Three men have pledged to protect her: her brother Harry, her ex, Nick, and the dashing hospital administrator with a reputation for womanizing, Jared Quinn. But they can't be on the alert every minute, not when Aimee is so bent on cracking the case with or without their help.

Book 1 in a new mystery series featuring amateur sleuth Aimee Machado.


My Review

I love when a book's setting feels as alive as a supporting character.

The foothills of the Cascade Mountains are where this story takes place, and the rusticity of the locale is what charmed me from the get go. Aimee Machado lives in the converted bunkhouse above her grandparents' barn. Their ranch is populated with a pasture full of fuzzy llamas and wooly sheep. There's even a pet snake in a tank, a wise-cracking bird, and a temperamental cat. Aimee admits that she doesn't have many friends, but the animals she takes care of keep her company. They protect her in their own way, and she looks out for them, too. If someone spray paints a warning on the coat of one of the baby llamas, then the cockatiel, Bosco, will hold up a would-be intruder for her "at gunpoint" by mimicking a line from DIRTY HARRY.

It's a nice give and take for a girl looking to take down the bad guys.

But when a police sketch of a suspicious "Camo Man" is circulated by police as a possible murder suspect, Aimee feels a shiver run through her when she spots a similar figure, driving away from the ranch one day when she's coming home from work. The peace and beauty of the isolation surrounding her suddenly turns threatening. Soon thereafter, a dead turkey is left hanging in her apartment with a blood-splattered message warning her to back off.

However, it turns out that Aimee has a curiosity streak a mile wide, and when one of the doctors at the hospital is believed to have killed his wife, she tries to gumshoe her way to the truth. She goes into the more metropolitan section of their rural northern California town of Timbergate, visiting a museum and attending the ballet in order to get close to one of her suspects. She even flies to San Francisco in order to get a fingerprint analysis done on an acrylic toenail she thinks came from the victim, hoping to ID the killer.

The August heat is another potent player in this drama. The stifling temperatures leave Aimee vulnerable to attack. She's afraid to leave her windows open at night when she finds a rattlesnake on her porch. She remarks on the rancid odor coming from a nearby Dumpster, only to be chewed out by the security guard at the hospital where she works, until later it's revealed that that's where the dead body was stashed. Since it's summer, she gives in to the inclinations of her boss, Quinn, to have lunch with him at the park, despite one of the gossipy hospital volunteers already warning her that that's where he likes to get cozy with his female co-workers. Aimee even dresses a tad more provocatively in a miniskirt and high heels to go undercover, but only ends up feeling uncomfortable when the man she's targeting ends up invading her personal space.

The local economy is driven by outdoor recreation and medicine, Aimee's two great passions. She's not afraid to stay alone at the ranch when her grandparents go on a trip. She pitches right in and mucks out stalls and feeds the animals. She likes the idea of being able to fend for herself. Her days spent as a hospital librarian are marked with monotony and routine, yet she enjoys being able to help the doctors and nurses on staff uncover new research on their particular topics of interest as well as discovering how to best meet their needs by subscribing to the most pertinent online periodicals.

There's a nice mixture of down-home country ruggedness and jet-setting affluence. The doctor whose wife was killed is part of the crème de la crème of society full of fancy restaurants and expensive cars while Aimee is left coping with a intermittent swamp cooler that keeps breaking down. She finds herself immersed in a world that she doesn't quite understand when half of her suspects are either high profile television personalities or pampered trophy wives and the other half run the gamut from recovering meth addicts to tacky swindlers looking for their next easy mark.

St. George does a fine job of throwing in enough red herrings to keep the reader guessing. The husband. The best friends. The ex-wife. Some are a little stranger than others, taking a more out of the box approach to peopling the local vicinity with a startling array of deviant behavior of both the private and public variety. The reveal isn't a 'knock your socks off' surprise, but St. George threads the needle admirably, connecting all the dots.

Mystery fans will undoubtedly want to return to Highland Ranch in Coyote Creek for Aimee Machado's next case.

***

Due for Discard can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Pages: 340
Genre: Detective Murder Mystery
Release: March 1, 2015
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812238
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Sharon St. George had the good fortune to spend an idyllic childhood in a small northern California town, riding horseback and camping with her family in the nearby mountains. One of her favorite pastimes was reading fiction, and a trip to the library was always an occasion of great joy. She’s traded horses for llamas, but she still treks to the high mountain lakes near her home—always with a mystery novel in her backpack. Sharon’s writing credits include three plays, several years writing advertising copy, a book on NASA’s space food project, and feature stories too numerous to count. She holds dual degrees in English and Theatre Arts, and occasionally acts in, or directs, one of her local community theater productions. Sharon is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, and she serves as program director for Writers Forum, a nonprofit organization for writers in northern California.

Links to connect with Sharon:
Web Site
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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