Books NaBloPoMo November 2019 Reviews

REVIEW: “Moonlight Avenue” by Gerri Hill

Whew! It has been nearly 11 months since I’ve written a review. Gotta say…that’s a long time. And it isn’t because I haven’t been reading. No, no. I have been reading. I’ve just been going back to some of my old, comfort books.

Recently, however, I have fallen into some of the newer 2019 releases. I realized that my favorite authors had been just publishing away and I hadn’t been keeping up. So I’ve been trying to remedy that.

Gerri Hill has long been a favorite author of mine. She’s always moved so easily from genre to genre. Her romances often become some of my comfort books and I’ll read them over and over to revel in happy feelings. (I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read Gulf Breeze.) Her mystery/thrillers always keep me on the edge of my seat, wondering what will happen next. (The Target and Hunter’s Way are, like, wow!)

Moonlight Avenue (Bella Books) is Hill’s latest mystery. Set in Corpus Christi – one of Hill’s favorite locations – Moonlight Avenue focuses on Private Investigator Finn Knight. Along the way, we meet Detective Dee Woodard. A murder investigation brings Dee to Finn’s door at Moonlight Avenue Investigations. A second killing – one that hits very close to home for Finn – causes them to form a reluctant partnership to find the murderer. Eventually, that partnership turns to friendship.

Nearly one-third of the way into the mystery, Rylee Moore also comes knocking on Finn’s door. Rylee, however, is looking for a job. A job that Finn doesn’t have available. Taking “no” for an answer is not on Rylee’s resumé, so she returns and eventually wears Finn down. Determined to gain experience as a private investigator, Rylee considers herself Finn’s assistant. Finn considers Rylee a receptionist. It makes for an interesting dynamic. Before long, as the murders keep piling up, Finn has no choice but to let Rylee tag along.

Soon, Finn, Dee, and Riley are delving deeper and deeper into the connections surrounding the various murders. With each twist and turn, their investigation becomes more and more dangerous. With their lives – and love – on the line, can they stay the course and solve the crime?

While I don’t dislike mystery novels, they are not really my first “go-to” when it comes to choosing books to read. Considering how much I enjoy police procedurals and true crime shows (I’m talking to you, Forensic Files), it’s rather shocking to me that I don’t read more mysteries and crime novels. I’m not really sure why I don’t. Perhaps I should force myself to read more of them.

Gerri Hill’s novels…The Target, Hunter’s Way, Sawmill Springs…are all great mystery novels, so why haven’t I read more? Well, I shall now add Moonlight Avenue to that list.

Hill has a great way of getting us into the action while also providing critical background information about the characters. We learn rather quickly about Finn in the first few chapters of Moonlight Avenue. Her journey from law student to police officer to private investigator is explored rather seamlessly with her investigative work for her current client. With every investigation and murder, we see her life in parallel. This not only tells about Finn’s background, it tells us about Finn – who she is and why she is the way she is. It’s done subtlely so that the reader doesn’t realize it’s happening. The same is true for Dee and Riley, but ultimately, this truly is Finn’s story.

What I really appreciate about Moonlight Avenue is the way the mystery is laid out for us. From the get-go, we have a pretty good idea of who the killer is. That’s Hill’s intention. The problem is connecting the clues and evidence to prove it. Things are not so straight forward. Hill takes us around some pretty perilous curves and twists as we journey with her protagonists. And with each new reveal, we learn that there’s no one, definitive bad guy. Things get messy. The end is not telegraphed. This is “edge of your seat” stuff.

Hill is also very skilled at writing romance. Her romance novels are some of my favorites. While Moonlight Avenue can’t really be considered “Romantic Intrigue,” it certainly does have a side love story happening along-side the mystery. It’s a slow-moving romance. The characters don’t even talk about it until nearly the end of the book. But the romantic tension is alive and well throughout the majority of the story. It really adds to the heightened emotion of the mystery – will they live long enough to explore these feelings?

Overall, Moonlight Avenue is just a darned good, well-written book. Hill has a knack for putting out a tightly written narrative. Words seem to be chosen carefully. There are no superfluous scenes. (You know what I’m talking about…those scenes that we just start skimming to get to the relevant or interesting stuff.) You just don’t find those in a Gerri Hill novel. If something is repeated, there’s a reason and the reader should not dismiss it.

Even if you’re not a regular reader of mysteries and crime novels, I really suggest you take the time to pick up Moonlight Avenue and give it a go. I think you’ll end up liking the characters. The twists and turns of the mystery will keep you guessing…and keep you reading.

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