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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: Ain't Nobody Nobody by Heather Harper Ellett (Mystery)


AIN'T NOBODY NOBODY
by
HEATHER HARPER ELLETT

Genre: Murder Mystery / Southern Noir / Dark Humor
Publisher: Polis Books
Date of Publication: September 24, 2019
Number of Pages: 336


SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY!





Still reeling from the scandal that cost him his badge, Randy Mayhill—fallen lawman, dog rescuer, Dr Pepper enthusiast—sees a return from community exile in the form of a dead hog trapper perched on a fence. The fence belongs to the late Van Woods, Mayhill’s best friend and the reason for his spectacular fall.

Determined to protect Van’s land and family from another scandal, Mayhill ignores the sherriff who replaced him and investigates the death of the unidentified man. His quest crosses with two others: Birdie, Van’s surly, mourning daughter, who has no intention of sitting idly by and leaving her father’s legacy in Mayhill’s hands; and Bradley, Birdie’s slow, malnourished but loyal friend, whose desperation to escape a life of poverty has him working with local criminals, and possibly a murderer.

Named a Best Debut of Fall/Winter 2019 by Library JournalAin't Nobody Nobody is a riveting debut novel about family and loyalty, old grudges and new lives. Part Breaking Bad and part Faulkner, this tragi-comic mystery is perfect for readers who enjoy dark humor (think Fargo) and like their crime fiction with a literary flare. A Best Mystery of 2019 by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.








Spanning a realistic timeline and told in multiple yet seamless parts and perspectives, this is a slow-burning story with a deeply-rooted mystery that screams rural East Texas. Everything from the dialogue, monologues, settings, and description sets the tone and never lets you forget exactly where you are. But don't let the idea that because it takes place in some backwood country location fool you into thinking these characters are bumpkins and there's nothing really going on. They're clever, intensely guarded, and carry an edge that's razor sharp. Whether they're your neighbors, your friends, or from your very own family, we can all recognize someone like them, making this story come alive off the page. And the moment that reveals the meaning *of the book's title...absolute perfection!

"She angrily pecked Bradley's number into the keypad again because she was Van's daughter after all, and an order to stop was always an invitation to keep going."

Life is tough here, especially if you choose to hang around the wrong people, and even then, keeping to yourself can lead to problems. Everything is very much in the shades of gray, and this story paints a beautiful picture of that reality. All that gray has a way of making the world seem foggy, hazy, muddled, and in much the same way that these characters can see no way out, that gripping sense of being stuck grabs a hold of the reader and doesn't let go until the final reveal. As conclusions draw near, there is a wave of hope that breaks through to shine on one of the most beautiful endings I have read in quite a while.

"Revenge was for scorned ex-wives and small town football teams." 

The humor is dark, witty, filled with snark, and I loved every minute of it! I am also in love with the author's writing style. Every word is carefully selected to craft rich detail, creating a work of art that is neither excessive nor terse. Cadence, diction, and rhythm matter as well! When combined, the phrasing and flow of the writing begs for this book to be read aloud! I'm not generally an audiobook listener, but I would love to hear this one when it becomes available. For all of its literary merits, this is also an absolutely fantastic call back to more traditional mystery storytelling. Christie, Hammett, Highsmith, even Hitchcock! No guts, gore, sex, or swearing*. Simply a fantastic story filled with entertaining and heartfelt characters that will evoke strong emotions and is easily recommendable to any reader.

There is magic between these pages, and I can't wait to read what the author has in store next! What a phenomenal way to start the new year! Eight days in and I've already found a favorite for the year!

*  After some feedback, reviewing of passages that I had considered for pull-quotes, and the author's own acknowledgement at the end, I realized that there is in fact cussing. BUT...these words were used so naturally within the dialogue that it was not unlike a conversation you might hear everyday. It was never gratuitous in my opinion, and I read books with A LOT of unnecessary cussing that adds nothing to the story. It says a lot to me that I was able to breeze through that language, but perhaps it is worth mentioning just in case this is a deal breaker for you. I hope it won't be because this is a story that needed to be told and well worth your time to read!






Born and raised in East Texas, Heather Harper Ellett is a graduate of SMU and a therapist in private practice. She lives in Dallas with her husband and son.

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 THREE SIGNED HARDCOVER COPIES
  January 2-12, 2020


a Rafflecopter giveaway   Best of luck!

Many thanks to Lone Star Book Tours and the author! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions!

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3 comments:

  1. Fabulous review, and I feel the same way about the book. It is next level good and has set the bar high for 2020 books to be read.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a great review, and I totally agree about the moment the title makes sense. And the cussing. I breezed through it, too, not really registering that it was there.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention! Wouldn't have been under my radar & it sounds good!

    ReplyDelete