Tag Archives: Murder Mystery

Audiobook Review & Giveaway: Covey and JayJay Get Educated by Shelton L. Williams

COVEY AND JAYJAY
GET EDUCATED
Audio Book Tour
By Shelton L. Williams
Narrated by Kathy James
Covey Jencks Mysteries, Book 2
Genre: Murder Mystery / Social Thriller / Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Audible
Length: 5 hours, 40 minutes
Publication Date: March 18, 2020

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Amateur detectives Covey Jencks and JayJay Qualls are drawn into a triple murder on the campus of Baker College in West Waverly in the Texas Hill Country. Both end up taking positions at the college: Covey as an adjunct instructor and JayJay as a visiting actor. 

 

Initially they believe that money is the motive for the murders, but over time they learn that the college is a cauldron of political and social intrigue. The college’s new president and his beautiful wife, various staff members, a prominent trustee, and parties not associated with the college have the motives, opportunities, and wacky agendas that might implicate them in the murders. It turns out that a white nationalist group may be using a college house for its nefarious activities, but are they more talk than action? 
 
The West Waverly police are little to no help in the investigation, and Covey himself has to depart the college to deal with his father’s death. JayJay takes over and makes a critical breakthrough. Upon Covey’s return, the couple must rely on deception, a bit of luck, and martial arts skills to solve the crimes and to try to prevent a high-profile assassination.

Review

Covey and JayJay Get Educated, by Shelton L. Williams is the second book in the Covey Jencks series. I listened to the first book a little over a year ago and remember very much enjoying the story and getting a kick out of the narrator, Kathy James.

I think the characters are what I enjoyed most in this book, especially JayJay. I loved how fearless she was and how she handled herself in any situation. I can’t remember if I had similar feelings while reading the other book, but I thought that Williams writes women very well. I got the feeling that he likes writing about them more than he likes writing about men; which is funny since the series is named after the main character who is a man. The dialogue was fantastic throughout but my favorite moments took place in Covey’s office. Something about office banter really appeals to my sense of humor. But funniness aside, I was really impressed with how Williams handles the weight of social injustice and political corruption. I sometimes wonder about authors who choose seemingly random time periods for their backdrop, but in this case it works really well – especially when you take into consideration that times haven’t changed much since then. I think that setting the story in the past makes the theme come across less preachy and maybe creates a distance that feels safer for the reader. On a lighter note, I’m a big fan of alternate histories or fictional works that briefly feature real people.

While I enjoyed this story even more than the first book, the narrator just did not do it for me this time around. I felt like the sauciness of some of the characters couldn’t shine through because of how robotic James speaks in this book. She also was not consistent with differentiating between different characters. Aside from some editing that felt a little choppy and overlapped like radio infomercials, the production quality was good. However, my final impression was that maybe she did not have time to pre-read the book or re-record sections.

Overall, I recommend this audiobook to anyone who likes a good, smart mystery. You don’t have to read or listen to the first book to enjoy it either. I look forward to the next adventure with Covey and JayJay.

Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and he taught for nearly forty years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on four occasions, and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now the Covey Jencks series. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.
 Amazon Author Page  



Kathy James. My first part time job while I was in high school was announcing at the local radio station, and I had fun being “on the air” and using my sarcastic sense of humor.  I worked in the radio business for more than twenty years. My favorite pastimes are teaching figure skating, getting lost in a great book, and watching movies.  I narrate and produce audio books in my home studio, and I truly enjoy bringing an author’s characters to life with an audio book. I currently reside in Minnesota with my slightly overweight cat and two childlike golden retrievers.  




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THREE WINNERS! 
FIRST PRIZE: Audio books of Covey Jencks, Covey and JayJay Get Educated, and Washed In the Blood
SECOND PRIZE: Both Covey Jencks books in Kindle editions
THIRD PRIZE: Covey and JayJay Get Educated in Kindle edition
MAY 7-16, 2020
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Review & Giveaway: Ain’t Nobody Nobody by Heather Harper Ellett

 

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
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Named a Best Debut of Fall/Winter 2019 by Library Journal, Ain’t Nobody Nobody is the story of a disgraced East Texas sheriff, his dead best friend’s surly teenage daughter, and a naive ranch hand who find unlikely redemption in a murdered hog hunter on a fence. 
 
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

 

I didn’t know what to make of the cover: a wild hog prancing across a sparsely starred night sky, but the title, Ain’t Nobody Nobody, sounded distinctly Southern. As a girl born and raised in Texas, I know that the South + wild hogs = guns, so I prepared myself for some violence.

Well, the book starts out with plenty of guns and no shortage of hog blood. If there is one thing I learned from reading this book, it’s that hogs love strawberry Kool-Aid. Don’t we all? Randy Mayhill struck me as a no-nonsense type of man who loves his dogs, so I took to him pretty quickly. However, you can like someone and not find the person very interesting at the same time. For reasons that I can’t place, I had a hard time caring about anyone for the first three or four chapters. When I went back and flipped through chapter five, I realized that we finally get some backstory on Randy and from that point on, everyone else is getting fleshed out and braided together into this really cool mystery.

Author Heather Harper Ellett has a great way with words and knows how to spin a story out nice and slow. I blame my initial reaction to this book to living in a world of instant gratification. But if you slow things down, take yourself back to 1996 (I still am not sure why the book was set in this time period), then you can enjoy a nice rumble along a back dirt road in a rickety old truck. I don’t know if you need to be a Southerner to appreciate Ellett’s turn of phrase, but I particularly loved descriptions such as a man considerate enough to stick to back roads when driving drunk, old men congregating at a feed store twice daily for decades, and an old granny with boobs down to her knees getting cuffed for marijuana.

The show Justified came to mind with that last description. As the story digs deeper and brings darkness to light, the pace quickens as the stakes are raised. By now Mayhill is trustworthy enough – he rescues dogs, so you have to trust him! – that you care about everyone that he cares about as well. When everything clicks into place, just when you think everything has been resolved, Ellett reveals her hand. And it is beautiful. Pull out of the fast lane for a weekend and hunker down with this book and a nice cold beverage.


 

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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