Friday, December 30, 2011
Book Review: Cold River by Liz Adair
Mandy Steenburg thinks her doctorate in education has prepared her to run any school district--until she tangles with the moonshine-making, coon-dog-owning denizens of a tiny district in Pacific Northwest timber country. She's determined to make a difference, but the local populace still looks to the former superintendent for leadership. When Mandy lands in the middle of an old feud and someone keeps trying to kill her, instinct tells her to run. And though she has to literally swim through perilous waters, she finds a reason to stay and chance the odds.
As if sleeping on a couch, having no cell phone service and having someone trying to murder you isn't enough to make Mandy's move to Limestone, Washington difficult, she finds herself falling in love with the man whose job she stole. Not that she meant to steal it. In fact, if she had known that her running away would land her in the middle of a family feud...and a river...perhaps she wouldn't have left Albuquerque.
While Liz was busy burning down houses and firing up stills, I lost sleep worrying about "what happens next!" and "who'd done what!" :) I burnt the midnight oil on this fantastic tale of acceptance and love, unable to put down the book until the very end. And what an end...
From page one I admired Mandy's quiet confidence that had almost the entire town eating out of her cream-filled-loving hand. That is, once they stopped hating her for taking over hunky Grange Timberlain's job as superintendent. Not an easy task considering Grange is one of their own--just one of the many Timberlains who "run" the town.
Mandy's credentials did not prepare her for the rich history of Limestone and the ties that bind the town together. Mandy only wants what's best for the kids, but in order to do that she must first become the student. Out of all her "teachers" I love Mo the best. Despite his quiet demeanor he reveals so much plot! His hidden talents and charisma continue to jump off the page, lending both intrigue and authenticity to the Northwest "character." The rest of the towns people are no different, with each character so delightfully mysterious, that it hurts for the reader to consider any one of them as Mandy's would-be killer.
I was so into the story that I found myself wanting more detail in certain scenes, lingering just a little bit longer on some of the more pivotal moments. Especially the ending, but perhaps that's because I didn't want the story to end. :)
The setting and mood were so beautifully illustrated, that such detail could only be accomplished by one who has lived and experienced such a place. Liz clearly expresses the love she has of both the people and area she details here, exposing the rich culture and heritage that is tucked away for others' discovery.
If you're ready and eager to explore Limestone for yourself you can purchase Cold River here. You can also learn more about Liz and her other numerous works here at her blog, perhaps investigating her Spider Latham series next if you need some more mysterious fun!