THE HOUSE ON CROW MOUNTAIN
GENRE: Cozy Suspense
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
RELEASE DATE: July 14, 2021
When her aunt suffers a stroke, New York portrait artist Emory Austen returns home to the North Carolina mountains to mend fences and deal with the guilt over her husband’s senseless death. But that won’t be as easy as she hoped. Someone in the quirky little town doesn’t like Emory. Is it the sexy architect who needs the Austen land to redeem himself? The untrustworthy matriarch? The grudge-bearing local bad boy? Or the teenage bombshell who has raised snooping to an art form? Even the local evangelist has something to hide. Who wrote the cryptic note warning her to “Give it back or you’ll be dead? And what is ‘it’? As the clues pile up and secrets are exposed, Emory must discover what her family has that someone would kill for.
The first thing that caught my attention with The House on Crow Mountain by Rebecca Lee Smith was that gorgeous cover – those mountains call to me anytime I see them on the pages of fiction (because they also call to me in real life). The Smoky Mountains & Blue Ridge Mountains are my happy place, as y’all know, so of course I had to read this book.
There are a lot of elements in play here, and they all converge to create a gothic-romance feel to this story: a creepy old house with a mysterious legend, a small Appalachian mountain town with superstitions and grudges, a character haunted by flashbacks to her ex-husband’s brutal death & secret past, a couple of romantic possibilities you aren’t sure Emory (or you) can trust, and some overly-emotional characters. While it does have some elements of a cozy mystery, as the author has classified this novel, it’s less quirky and more suspenseful than most cozies – more along the lines of a Phyllis A. Whitney novel (which is a great thing in my book!).
I liked Emory a lot – she’s been through a lot but has a strong head on her shoulders and while, yes, she makes some stupid decisions (particularly at the end) she is both resilient & determined to protect her Aunt Pris and the house where Emory has fond memories. The only other character I really liked in The House on Crow Mountain is Mrs. Shipley, the sweet elderly woman who channels Jessica Fletcher on a couple of occasions and helps the pieces click together. She was a breath of fresh air in a town where you aren’t sure who else can be trusted. Don’t get me wrong, several other characters intrigued me but various aspects kept me from fully liking most of them until all is revealed in the end and I could more clearly see where to place my loyalties.
Bottom Line: A cozyish mystery with strong suspense elements, set amidst my favorite mountains in the world, with that cover? Yep, that means it was a no-brainer for me to be drawn to The House on Crow Mountain by Rebecca Lee Smith. Vivid characters, a complex plot, and an almost gothic atmosphere make it impossible to know exactly who can be trusted – and who can’t – and I stayed completely invested in the outcome from beginning to end. This works very well as a stand-alone but I bet the Blue Ridge Mountains have some other tales to tell, too!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / enjoyed it!
Reviewer’s Note: Readers may want to be aware that there is some stronger cursing & profanities scattered throughout this novel, as well as some adult (but not explicit) subject matter.
Rebecca lives with her husband and a dog named Wilbur in the beautiful misty mountains of East Tennessee, where the people are charming, soulful, and just a little bit crazy. She’s been everything from a tax collector to a stay-at-home-mom to an award-winning professional actress and director. When she’s not churning out small-town cozy-ish mysteries, she loves to travel the world, go to the Outer Banks for her ocean fix, watch old movies, and make her day complete by answering the Final Jeopardy! question. Her Southern roots and the affectionate appreciation she has for the rural towns she lives near inspire the settings and characters she writes about.
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What about you? What makes you want to read The House on Crow Mountain by Rebecca Lee Smith?