The Tender Mercy of Roses

Anna Michaels, S&S/Gallery, $22.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4391-8099-0
Jo Beth Dawson was once a good detective, but the stress of the job led her toward alcohol and off the force in disgrace. When she comes across the body of Pony Jones, however, the murder of the energetic young rodeo star haunts her, compelling her to investigate Pony's death even though it puts Jo Beth in direct conflict with Sam Donovan, her former partner, and irks her own family. As it turns out, Jo Beth's family and Pony's family are linked, and investigating the tragedy will force decades-old secrets to the surface, where no one but Jo Beth wants them to be. Michaels's debut is well-intentioned, but she takes on too many issues (alcoholism, mysticism, interracial tensions, dark secrets), losing the reader in the process. And the killer's identity is telegraphed early on, putting the reader in the frustrating position of knowing more than the book's protagonists. Michaels is obviously shooting for The Lovely Bones; while her attempt has potential, it's difficult to find the story lurking among all the problems. (May 17)
Reviewed on: 02/07/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4391-8101-0
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4640-2477-1
Paperback - 326 pages - 978-1-4391-8100-3
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