Miranda Warning

Miranda WarningMiranda Warning by Heather Day Gilbert
Series: Murder in the Mountains
Genres: Mystery, Suspense
Published by WoodHaven Press on May 27, 2014
Pages: 364
Also by this author: Forest Child

 

Tess Spencer has been thrown some curveballs throughout her life, so she is no stranger to pain and heartache. She carries a knife and can handle a Glock on any day, ready to take on whatever comes her way. When an anonymous warning note, in the handwriting of a woman long dead, appears in her best friend Miranda’s mailbox, Tess starts to follow a trail that went cold years ago. With very little go on but a handful of clues and her own tenacity, Tess attempts to unmask the killer before she or someone she loves becomes the next victim.

Heather has created a character that has lodged in my head like a real person, and that to me is a sign of her superb abilities as a writer.

Sometimes I fall for a male lead. Sometimes I admire a main characters fortitude, faith or courage. And sometimes I seriously wish that a character is real and would be my best friend, because, you know, that’s a healthy reaction to have toward a fictional character, right? Well, right or wrong, I simply adored Tess Spencer! She is so quirky and unique, yet so utterly normal, I just wanted to find her and give her a hug and go out for coffee. In my head, we are totally besties, and our husbands should be besties too. They could go camping and do guy stuff while Tess and I do something girly and then…oh, right, she isn’t real! Heather has created a character that has lodged in my head like a real person, and that to me is a sign of her superb abilities as a writer.

Tess isn’t the only great thing about this novel. As someone who tends to shy away from the thriller/suspense genre, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about Miranda Warning, but since I already trusted Heather as an author, it seemed logical that I would enjoy it. The setting of Buckneck, West Virginia has a very realistic quality to it that seems specific to areas located in the Appalachian Mountains. I can’t put my finger on it specifically, but it’s the way that the characters related to each other, the way they look out for each other and just an overall mysterious quality to the sense of place. There is a particularly beautiful set of sentences where Tess describes walking through the mountainous woods, describing its magnetism like “gravity for my soul.” So true and so simple, yet it feels very profound and is very telling of who Tess is as a character.

The plot has a lot of twists and turns – just when I thought I knew what was coming, Heather adds another facet to the mystery – the story is compulsively readable.

The plot has a lot of twists and turns – just when I thought I knew what was coming, Heather adds another facet to the mystery – the story is compulsively readable, and while I’m a quick reader in general, I think I read this one in only a handful of sittings. I’m also a big fan of first-person narration, and Heather does it really well. Although the story follows Tess, there is another character that speaks throughout the story as well, and it was easy to differentiate between their two voices.

The secondary characters are all multi-faceted and have their individual idiosyncrasies that provide depth and extra layers to the mystery of the story. The friendship between Tess and Miranda was so endearing and humorous. It is obvious that they have been close for a long time, and that Tess won’t let anyone mess with Miranda. Throughout the story, it is revealed that Miranda took Tess under her wing when she was going through some things years before. I liked the way that Heather revealed things about Tess and the other characters, but still leaves some things to be revealed later in the series. Although I’m sure the revelations were purposeful and planned, they feel very natural and realistic within the story. Tess and Thomas are so refreshing as a couple; whether it was bantering, bickering or a more romantic moment, all of their interactions feel genuine. I really loved his family as well; I’m pretty sure they should really exist, too!

Though the spiritual aspect of the story is not obvious on the outset, it is woven throughout the story gradually, and propels to a hopeful ending.

Though the spiritual aspect of the story is not obvious on the outset, it is woven throughout the story gradually, and propels to a hopeful ending. Tess’s inner dialogue of her fears, frustrations and triumphs feel true and real, and I found myself relating to her many times (besides wanting to be her bestie and all that). I highly recommend Miranda Warning for readers that like a mystery with a psychological bend to them. It is one of my favorite reads of 2015, and I’m eager to read the continuation of Tess’s story, Trial by Twelve!

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