Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Negative Reaction by Lori Roberts Herbst

Posted April 24, 2023 by meezcarrie in contemporary, cozy mystery, giveaway, Lori Roberts Herbst, mystery/suspense / 41 Comments

NEGATIVE REACTION by Lori Roberts Herbst
Callie Cassidy Mysteries #5

GENRE: Cozy Mystery (Clean)
RELEASE DATE: April 25, 2023
PAGES: 301

Wedding bells are ringing in Rock Creek Village. But when a venomous villager crashes the nuptials, events take a toxic turn…

The long-awaited day has arrived—photographer Callie Cassidy’s best friend is tying the knot. With a gentle snow falling outside and family and friends gathered inside, the wedding couldn’t be more perfect. Even Callie’s golden retriever, Woody, and her tabby cat, Carl, have donned tuxes for the occasion. And the icing on the cake? Callie’s trainee, Braden, is acting as official photographer, with the assistance of his twin brother, Banner. Callie is as proud as if she were their mother.

But as the ceremony ends, an uninvited and apparently inebriated visitor barges in. The guests are shocked—and more than a little dismayed—to see Brian Ratliff, the twins’ absentee father, who slunk out of town two years prior, leaving his teenage boys to fend for themselves. Several volatile confrontations ensue, concluding with an angry altercation between Brian and Braden.

When Brian later winds up in a coma, the victim of poisoning, suspicion mounts against Braden. Callie is incensed, certain the boy isn’t capable of harming his father. Besides, plenty of villagers despised the man—any of them might have slipped him the toxin that rendered him unconscious.

As evidence accumulates against Braden, Callie fears he will end up taking the fall. With Detectives Raul Sanchez and Lynn Clarke stonewalling her, she turns to family and friends—including the town’s feisty new cub reporter—for help. Together, can they prove Braden’s innocence—and reveal the true culprit?

Other Books In This Series


One of my favorite things about the Callie Cassidy Mystery series is the characters, and two of my favorite characters are the Ratliff twins, Banner and Braden. With these two at the forefront of Negative Reaction, it’s no surprise that this is my favorite of the series to date. It’s also the most heartfelt, in my opinion, with an emphasis on friendship, romance, and family.

Banner and Braden have come a long way since Callie first met them, and their relationship with her is almost that of mother-son and older sister, all in one. I loved how much this is highlighted in Negative Reaction, and the sweetness of their friendship with her is so warmly on display in both directions. When their jerk of a father is poisoned, the twins lean on Callie for support, a place to stay, and also a champion in their corner. This case was full of suspects, including Banner and especially Braden, and Callie has her work cut out for her in proving their innocence. Lori Roberts Herbst skillfully weaves these suspects – as well as clues & red herrings galore – into a mystery that kept me stumped until just before the big reveal. But even then, after changing my mind several times about who i thought ‘done it’, I didn’t believe I was right until the suspect proved me so.

Mrs. Finney is in rare form in this installment, and I adored her as usual. She and her new beau were the source of some definite giggles on my part, and they stole several scenes in ways I didn’t see coming (and am still chuckling about). And, of course, since we’re talking about scene stealers, I would be remiss not to mention Callie’s creatures – her adorable dog Woody and specifically her cat Carl who stole his own share of scenes. I laughed out loud, picturing one of his save-the-day scenes, and I love the way the author writes the animals with personality and layers of their own. Rounding out the character love, a new intrepid reporter has joined the recurring cast, too, and she grew on me as the story – and her role – progressed. I ended up really liking her and look forward to her future interactions with Callie and crew.

Bottom Line: Once again, Lori Roberts Herbst has written a delightful & entertaining cozy mystery that I enjoyed from start to finish. The heart of this series really is the community of Rock Creek Village, and I loved them in Negative Reaction the best so far. A handful of mysterious events and suspicious people ensures a plot that is both layered and intriguing, and I enjoyed trying to figure out the culprit(s) along with Callie and her new journalism protegee Monika. They made a great investigative team, bolstered further by Callie’s inner circle and, of course, her creatures. Another fun visit to Rock Creek Village, murder notwithstanding.

(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 / loved it

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Lori Roberts Herbst, who writes the Callie Cassidy Mystery series, spent much of her life writing, editing, and psychoanalyzing. Through thirty years of teaching journalism, advising newspaper and yearbook staff, instructing budding photographers, and counseling teenagers, she still managed to hang on to a modicum of sanity. Her books have earned first-place CIBA awards in the Murder and Mayhem division. She currently serves as secretary of the Sisters in Crime North Dallas chapter and is a member of the Sisters in Crime Guppies and the Mystery Writers of America.

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Lori Roberts Herbst is offering a digital or print copy (winner’s choice) of Negative Reaction to one of my readers! (US only for print. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

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What about you? What makes you want to read Negative Reaction by Lori Roberts Herbst?

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41 responses to “Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Negative Reaction by Lori Roberts Herbst

  1. Nancy

    I would like to read NEGATIVE REACTION by Lori Roberts Herbst because I like to discover new to me cozy mystery authors and read their books.

  2. Anne

    This wonderful cozy mystery is captivating and unique. A dog added to this story makes it meaningful and special.

  3. Roxanne C.

    The cast of characters—people and pets—sounds fantastic. It has to be a super fun cozy when the reader is still laughing long after she is finished reading it.

  4. Dianne Casey

    Sounds like a fun book. I enjoy reading books featuring animals in the story. Looking forward to reading the book.

  5. Nadine

    Actually I’ll read it and pass it on to a friend who only reads books with a dog on the cover. Weird I know but at least he is reading!

  6. Kay Garrett

    Loves cozies! And I love being introduced to new to me authors! Both at met here. Add to it a great review and a fabulous sounding book have me adding this book to my TBR list. I would love the opportunity to read and review it.

  7. What makes me want to read this book is the book cover and book excerpt, also the fact this author is new to me so I’m interested seeing what her writing style and her books are like.

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