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‘Epiphany’
by Susan Slater
Review

EPIPHANY – (Dan Mahoney Mysteries #4)

Cover image of the bok 'Epiphany' by author Susan SlaterIt’s Christmas in St. Augustine, where Dan and Elaine Mahoney are taking an extended honeymoon. But not all is sunny in Florida when Dan’s company sends him to investigate the theft of 1.2 million dollars’ worth of religious relics from the famed Basilica. Immediately, he knows it won’t be easy to track down the missing items—far too many people had access to the safe where they were stored when not on display for the parishioners. And although the church and rectory were filled with people, when Dan questions them, it seems no one saw a thing.

Adding another wrinkle to their newlywed life is the fact that Dan’s mother has moved to a small town up the road. Dragon’s Bend is known for the fact that everyone who lives there is involved in the spiritual realm—from seers to gurus. Most are sincere practitioners in their beliefs, but some … not so much. Is Maggie Mahoney’s new job giving tarot readings at the Center for Spiritual Learning a legit way for her to help those who want to find deeper meaning in their lives? Or is she becoming caught up in something far darker?

A visit from Elaine’s son Jason brings the family together for a fun Mahoney Christmas, but not before there’s a murder in Dragon’s Bend. The clues finally come together and the scope of the crimes goes far beyond anything Dan could have imagined.

SUSAN SLATER

Image of author Susan SlaterKansas native Susan Slater lived in New Mexico for thirty-nine years.

As an educator, she directed the Six Sandoval Teacher Education Program for the All Indian Pueblo Council through the University of New Mexico. She also taught creative writing for UNM and the University of Phoenix.

Her Southwest mystery novels, featuring Native American psychologist Ben Pecos, reflect her extensive knowledge of the tribes and pueblo culture in the area.

In addition, Susan was both a manager of technical editors and writers and a Senior Instructional Specialist for two defense industry contractors, before retiring to Florida to write full time.

Florida is where we now find Susan’s newest character, Insurance Investigator Dan Mahoney, solving his latest cases.

Check out all Susan’s news and social media connections at her website

Connect with Susan on Facebook

Follow Susan on Twitter

“I was so in awe of mystery writers—I figured if I could write a mystery and keep plots and sub-plots and red herrings, all twisted together, yet one supporting the other AND keep the readers guessing until the last; I could write anything! Every good book has a sense of mystery—the “something” that keeps the reader turning the pages. With all my degrees in Lit. and teaching all kinds of writing, learning to write a mystery was the best writing training I ever received.”

Cover image of the bok 'Epiphany' by author Susan Slater

FIRST LINES

“Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. There she went again, thinking in threes. Her mind was spinning, repeating itself – repeating the warnings.”

All of you ‘First Page Browsers’, can check out a longer opening extract, posted as part of my ‘Mailbox Monday‘ meme.

Cover image of the bok 'Epiphany' by author Susan Slater

MEMORABLE LINES

“Loyalty is a trait that can mean life or death. Lines you can’t cross. Especially when playing for high stakes.”

.

“But no, do not dwell on things that cannot be changed – the past is done and over with; let it be.”

.

“Dan didn’t think he’d ever been as emotionally impacted by a murder scene as he was when he opened the trunk. The blood, the struggle … no one deserved to die that way – and didn’t the coroner say she’d been raped? She suffered knowing what was coming and then was left to die … bleeding out. He turned away. It was difficult to digest the crushing inhumanity of it all.”

You can check out a slightly longer extract from the book, included as part of my regular ‘Tuesday Teaser‘ meme.

Cover image of the bok 'Epiphany' by author Susan Slater

MY REVIEW

“There’s A Murder In Dragon’s Bend…”

Oh Boy! Where do I begin to place this one on the scale of genres? – Yes, it is definitely a mystery! – but could I technically describe it either as a cozy mystery, or a murder/mystery of a much more sober and intense nature – I’m not sure, and therein lies my dilemma!

If I truly say that this book has a great storyline, which is well told through the voice of some excellent characters, with just the right amount of seriousness, but not written with too heavy a hand or tone of voice, then perhaps that will set the scene and the rest, well you can decide that for yourself!

Oh! and of course, it is fully deserving of its 4 star rating from me too!

Such was the personal and almost intimate nature of the narrative when I first read the premise for this book, I wondered whether I was going to be able to slot into this, the fourth book in the ‘Dan Mahoney Mysteries’ series, treating it as the stand alone story I hoped it might be. However I need not have worried. After the initial high impact opening pages set the scene of the investigation, enough of Dan’s past was woven into the early fabric of the story, that I was able to piece his life together more than comfortably enough to get a picture in my mind from quite early on in my reading, with the details then being fleshed out nicely as the story progressed, but without them taking over the narrative or dialogue of this storyline.

In fact, just about all of the profusion of characters were well drawn and defined, easy to relate to and connect with – even the ones I didn’t particularly like! The dynamics and interaction between the many unique personalities was excellent, making me feel as though I was right there in the space with them, eavesdropping on their conversations, although unable to change any of the outcomes. None of the characters were particularly complex, in fact several were rather unconventional, if engaging, with each having just enough depth for their dialogue exchanges to be compelling and their actions spontaneous and natural.

In fact this became quite a ‘family affair’ with Dan, Elaine, Dan’s mother, Elaine’s son, and Elaine’s son’s girlfriend, all becoming involved in the multi faceted investigation, but all coming at it from their own individual perspectives. There was plenty of potential for the whole narrative to become rather sloppy and messy, however Susan kept everything nicely under control

There were so many individual elements and sub-plots going on in the story, that this almost felt like a trolley dash through the entire crime book and charge sheet of the local police department, where sorting out all the crimes was a major operation in itself, without the task of trying to deduce who all the guilty parties were! Yet everything was included in the narrative in such a way that the journey never felt rushed or contrived, with each story scene flowing freely into the next, in an engagingly fluid read. Susan slipped in a few choice ‘red herrings’ along the way, to put those of us, like myself, who consider themselves to be fairly competent amateur sleuths, off the scent – and they all slipped me up a treat!

Even though I had my suspicions about one of the eventual perpetrators, I still didn’t really work out all the intricacies of their part in the plot and just how deeply they were involved, if at all.

The lovely balance between the character and plot based elements of the story, were just about perfect, making this a great book to escape into, with the pages almost turning themselves!

Image of author Susan Slater

A complimentary download of this book, was kindly made available and supplied by Secret Staircase Books.

Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 4 out of 5 stars!

Cover image of the bok 'Epiphany' by author Susan Slater

 

 

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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6 comments
  • I still don’t know if this is one that will ever make it to my wishlist, but I do like the writing in the excerpts you’ve shared. It sounds like the author tells a good story!

    Great review, Yvonne! I’m glad you enjoyed it so much.

    • Hi Kelly,

      As ever, thanks for stopping by to offer your support for my posts, I always appreciate your comments.

      Susan definitely knows how to tell a good story and keeps the reader wanting to turn the pages ever faster.

      Her mind must be racing ahead when she commits pen to paper, and I’ll never be able to work out exactly how she managed to bring together all the separate strands of the story, into one cohesive plot, which came together so well at the end!

      A light, quite easy to read book, which despite its serious nature, left me smiling a little at the end.

      Stay safe 🙂

  • I’m glad you were able to escape into this one Yvonne. It sounds interesting.
    I liked the quotes you shared as well. Good for the author on retiring to Florida to write full time, that sounds like a dream.
    Great review and take care my friend!

    • Hi Naida,

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and for your lovely words of encouragement. I always value your comments.

      I always try to feature any really memorable lines from a book, and these were particularly pertinent right now – especially the middle one, about not being able to change the past!

      This was definitely one to escape into, and I was so busy wondering what could possibly happen next, that the reading time just flew by.

      Hubbie has visited many of the different US States, however I have only ever really got as far as Florida, as we are both such Disney addicts. I could have quite easily settled there permanently, or at least thought I could, until Dave pointed out all the hurricanes they get and the fact that if we all return to our ‘normal’ behaviour when this pandemic is finally over and global warming continues increasing such an alarming rate, Florida will be the first to suffer from the rising water levels. That kind of put things into perspective for me and made me appreciate what I have here at home a little more!

      Maybe as you say, it’s just a nice dream 🙂

      I hope that you are managing to stay safe if you still have to go out to work and please Take Care xx

  • I actually think this sounds quirky and very readable and I like the fact that it’s Florida which is not a setting you see very often. I think I would want to start at the beginning of the series but am glad you found it easy to slot into this fourth book. Excellent review, Yvonne.

    • Hi Cath,

      Thanks for visiting 🙂

      Maybe there should be another new sub-genre called ‘Quirky Mysteries’? I like the sound of that and this author would definitely be first on my nominations list!

      Susan has a lovely free-flowing style of writing in her narrative and dialogue, which can’t help but be engaging to readers.

      Just what is needed in these times of fear and uncertainty!

      I definitely recommend!

      Stay Safe 🙂

Written by Yvonne

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