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Tell Me No Lies: An Ava Logan Mystery by Lynn Chandler Willis is described as “Mystery Thriller General Fiction (Adult)” Knowing that, I settled in for what I hoped would be enough to take my mind off politics :). And, to just get it out of the way, I really really enjoyed this book. The author’s background includes ownership of a small-town newspaper (like her protagonist Ava Logan), and work in television, both of which may have contributed to the way the writing flows nicely while providing a rich visual portrait of both characters and environment.

Another thing to get out of the way is to clarify that it isn’t really possible to say much about the book without spoiling it. Now, about that: I am an avid mystery reader who generally doesn’t figure things out ahead of time, which is fine by me. I prefer being surprised (but only in reading, never in real life!) But there was a mention early on of something about the character that turned out to be the villain that made me say “hmmmm.” So, perhaps other readers may find the ending was telegraphed early on – but I was actually still somewhat surprised AND it didn’t lessen my enjoyment.

So, here is what I CAN say: the protagonist, Ava Logan, is a single mother to amazing children who live deep in Appalachia (and the setting turns out to be a significant aspect of the book’s appeal, as Willis uses both the natural beauty of the region and the appalling poverty to move her story along. Ava’s past is referenced (she tells us “…I had always been the girl with the mom in prison”).

Ava has made a good life for herself and is the publisher of the local newspaper. In her role as publisher/writer, she encounters some stories related to the upcoming local election about a rash of ginseng thieves (really? Who knew? Well, not me). Then on a day when Ava is watching a toddler belonging to her friend (another single mom), the friend is murdered and Ava finds herself in the middle of that case, the thievery, and a side plot about her multiple male friends, who are both prominent in the town.

When I write it down it sounds so cliché and like it might not be that much fun to read, but seriously, you just need to trust me. If you enjoy a clever mystery, mostly likeable characters (including a “plucky heroine”), you will like this.

With thanks to Henery Press and NetGalley for providing an advance copy in exchange for my honest review, I give it four stars. Only negative for me was the fact that the clue to the mystery may have been too obvious which I know turns off some mystery readers. Again, for me, that was not an issue and I will definitely recommend this one.

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