Title: Time of Death by Lucy Kerr
Stillwater General Mystery Series Book One
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
It’s been twelve years since ER nurse Frankie Stapleton fled the quiet banks of Stillwater, but with her sister’s pregnancy taking a dangerous turn and a string of failed relationships in Chicago hanging over her, Frankie is back–and hoping to put the past behind her. Within minutes of arriving at Stillwater General Hospital however, she ends up saving a man’s life, only to have him turn up dead hours later – and the hospital blames Frankie.
Her instincts say Clem Jensen didn’t die of natural causes, but the more she digs, the more she discovers too many suspects, a few surprising allies, and some hard truths about the first man she ever loved–and left. Now the boy she once knew is a skeptical sheriff’s deputy, her family’s hardware store is in jeopardy, and the rift between Frankie and her loved ones is deeper than ever.
With her career–and future–on life support, Frankie must catch a killer, clear her name, and heal the wounds of the past in Lucy Kerr’s enthralling mystery debut, Time of Death.
Time of Death by Lucy Kerr is a perplexing mystery with a refreshing and unexpected setting and a multi-layered protagonist. This first installment in the Stillwater General Mystery series is a fast-paced and engrossing novel that fans of the genre do not want to miss!
Emergency room nurse Frankie Stapleton’s return to her small hometown is already fraught with tension as she deals with her complicated relationship with her family. The last thing she needs after her sister, Charlie, delivers her baby six weeks early is a threat to her career. However, after heart attack victim, Clem Jensen, dies, the man’s estranged son-in-law Jimmy Madigan threatens to sue the hospital. In an effort to deflect attention away from the hospital, slimy hospital vice president Walter Strack is determined to ensure Frankie takes the blame for his death. Certain Clem’s death was murder, Frankie starts poking around into his life to try to figure out who would want to kill the devoted grandfather and well-liked handyman.
Frankie’s relationship with her mom and Charlie has been strained since she chose to move away twelve years earlier instead of remaining in town to work in the family owned hardware store. She loves the diversity of working in the ER and in her downtime, she enjoys traveling. Despite the slight estrangement with her family, Frankie does not hesitate to return to help out while Charlie is in the hospital. However, her interactions with her sister and mother are quite tense and quickly deteriorate into bitter exchanges over her decision to pursue her career in nursing instead of working in the hardware store.
Frankie’s investigation into Clem’s death is another source of friction with her family and her former fiancé, Noah McLean, who is now a sheriff’s deputy. With little evidence to back up her theory that Clem was murdered, she has no choice but to try to find proof his death was not from natural causes. She finds very troubling information about the current medications he was taking but she is stonewalled by Strack every time she tries to convince him Clem’s death was the result of foul play. Frankie makes progress in gaining help from McLean but when the person she is convinced killed Clem is murdered, suspicion falls on her. Frankie then completely loses Noah’s support after her wild accusations are disproven so she becomes more determined than ever to unmask the killer.
An absolutely phenomenal beginning to the Stillwater General Mystery series, Time of Death is a well-written and riveting debut by Lucy Kerr. Frankie is a fascinating and well-developed heroine who is finally forced to take a hard look at the choices she has made over the years. The mystery surrounding Clem’s death is quite interesting and although it takes time to make sense of the incongruous clues, Frankie tenaciously follows every lead she unearths. Will Frankie uncover the truth about the murders before it is too late? Or will she fall victim to a murderer who is willing to kill anyone who gets in their way?