Heart of a Runaway Girl
Release date: January 10, 2021
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ARC kindly received in exchange for an honest review.
A captivating, thrilling series debuts in the New Year.
In a 1980s mountain town fueled by the drug trade, a young couple gets into an argument at Mabel’s Diner. Then the teen girl winds up brutally murdered, and the black boyfriend automatically jailed. Haunted by the tragedy, big-hearted, big-haired, single mom and waitress, Mabel Davison steps in and asks questions few want answered. But she’s unprepared for the secrets she uncovers, and now more lives may be destroyed, including her own.
Why did I choose to read Heart of a Runaway Girl?
The author contacted me directly and kindly asked if I would read his upcoming debut novel, in exchange for a fair review. I said I would!
What did I think of Heart of a Runaway Girl?
A character-driven mystery novel set in a 1980s small-town, Heart of a Runaway Girl tackles present-day issues and taboos, while taking us on the stressful and chilling hunt for the real killer.
In a small mining town, a young girl is found, brutally murdered, and her African-American boyfriend is immediately arrested and charged for her murder. No other suspects are questioned, no further leads looked into. Sound familiar? If you’ve been watching the news (or bingeing on all the True Crime documentaries on Netflix like I have), this situation may sound familiar. Because it is.
I really liked the fact that Heart of a Runaway Girl’s main plot centered around an issue that is all too current and all too familiar. And while systemic racism and racial disparities have certainly been issues for decades, they are starting to be addressed today. Being part of the conversation is really important and I’m glad this novel is!
But back to our review: I’ll admit, this novel wasn’t quite what I expected. This story focuses much more on the characters and less on suspenseful and chilling action. I wouldn’t categorize it as a Thriller/Suspense novel, but more of a Police/Legal investigation mystery.
At first, I wasn’t sure I liked the main character, Mabel: she seemed overly emotional and too involved in other people’s matters. I was especially annoyed by Mabel’s tendency to jump to conclusions the men she suspected of the murder, while at the same time, preaching the presumption of innocence for the boy in custody. BUT I did eventually grow to like her and the other caste of characters from the small town of Blue River.
The second half of the novel is where most of the action takes place, and that’s when I really got into the story. The action is fast-paced and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. The events build up to a tense and stressful final showdown. Finally, the remaining few chapters wrap-up the story nicely with satisfactory conclusion.
What I most liked in this novel was how the story centered around the characters and their interactions with one another. It really makes the reader feel like they’re a part of the small-town community of Blue River. Mabel’s backstory and personality feels natural and real.
I give Heart of a Runaway Girl a 3.5-star rating! Now that I know what to expect, I will definitely be picking up the next book in the series! I recommend this book to fans of Legal/Police investigation novels.
Until next time!