Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Monday, mystery on December 23, 2013

This week I’m welcoming author Susan Holmes to StoreyBook Reviews.  Susan found me on Goodreads when when she said that her book involved dogs, well how could I say no to reading the book?!  April and Gracie would never forgive me for passing on a dog story!  So I had a little time during the holidays to pick up this book…and well my review is below!

Deadly Ties Cover


Deadly Ties has been described as “a cozy with an edge.” It is a tale of family, friendship, and betrayal in a mountain community where ties run deep and grudges can linger for a lifetime.

Come to the hills of Arkansas and meet Maggie Porter and her dogs—a champion Labrador Retriever, an aging Cocker Spaniel, and a Beagle retired from federal service. When Maggie returns home to reopen the family dog kennel business, she’s greeted by anonymous threats and break-ins. Serious trouble arises when a gossip-loving employee turns up dead holding an heirloom locket belonging to Maggie’s mother. The violence soon escalates and when a security crisis puts everything she loves at risk, she realizes somebody doesn’t want Waterside Kennels back in business.

As the region sizzles in record heat and drought, a “Treasures of the Ozarks” advertising campaign disrupts her quest for answers even as it breathes new life into old tales and brings out tourists and treasure hunters alike. With her loyal dogs at her side, Maggie must dig for the truth. Along the way she learns everyone has something to hide. And some secrets are worth killing for.


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Excerpt (Prologue)

Doreen Crowley wasn’t the smart type. She’d known that since the fourth grade, which she repeated three times. Doreen’s teachers pronounced her hopeless. She left school at fifteen and pushed a broom through her uncle’s grocery store for eight years, and then she drifted from one job to the next, waiting for Lady Luck to deliver a Prince Charming who would declare her beautiful and smart. Somebody who wanted her for more than one night, more than a casual good time.

And now that she’d found one, she meant for him to stay.

Doreen paced nervously about the room, the necklace dangling from her hand as she considered her options. She’d broken her own rule, the one about not taking anything expensive, or something that might be missed right away.

To keep it would be stealing, and she wasn’t a thief. Souvenirs, that’s what she took, something she could pull out when she needed to lose herself in memories.

This was no souvenir.

She could put it back, pretend she hadn’t seen it, didn’t know whose it was, but she wouldn’t forget. Defiant, she shoved the jewelry in the small front pocket of her jeans. When the time was right she’d confront him, demand an explanation. And an apology. Let him say the woman means nothing to him.

And if she won’t back off, Doreen thought, she’d have to get in her face. This was her man, her future, and nobody’s going to say different.

She’d die before she let him go.


What an interesting book! Mysteries to be solved in the past and present. An eclectic group of characters. Maggie has some issues tied to her past and her mother leaving, which still affect her as an adult.  But perhaps with how the book ends she is able to start to move forward with her life and perhaps even have a love interest!

I will say that I figured it out relatively early.  There wasn’t anything that stood out to lead me to figure out it out.  Just this strong hunch on who the “bad guy/girl” was and something else which I do not want to spoil for anyone. However, I didn’t know how it all tied together so that was fun to find out how it all happened. There were a few twists I didn’t see coming and I did think that other characters were more sinister than they appeared.

We give it 4 paws and can’t wait to see what Susan has in store for the next installment!


About the Author

susan holmesSusan Holmes penned her first story at the age of four. Despite the brevity (three pages of crayoned text) and the title (“Three Bears Visit New York City”) her father gave it the same careful consideration he gave to C. F. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower series. When he finished the story he announced, “You are going to be a writer.”

To be a writer, of course, one must also be a reader. In the pre-digital world that meant a trip to the local library (a very long walk across town, requiring an escort/bodyguard in the form of her older brother) where a new world awaited. By the fifth grade she’d progressed to Shakespeare, an experience that came in handy when she was stationed in England at the start of her military career. For the next twenty years, she wrote stories about the lands and the people she met around the world.

She spent much of her military years writing and editing all sorts of materials, tailoring the voice and content to the target audience. She produced the books Quality Approach and the Process Improvement Guide as part of the Air Force’s Total Quality initiatives. That proved great training when she moved into academic publishing and then into poetry and fiction. Today, she lives in northwest Arkansas where she works as a writer, editor, and college professor.

Her third book, Deadly Ties is the first in the Waterside Kennels mystery series. The series is set in northwest Arkansas using both real and fictional settings. In pursuit of authentic material for the series, she joined Search and Rescue exercises, ventured deep into caves, and followed the trail of Ozark legends. Technical details came from experts in the fields of bioarcheology, forensic anthropology, and even fire sciences. She worked closely with dog trainers, kennel owners, and veterinarians to create an environment that dog lovers are sure to recognize and appreciate.

Susan is a member of Sisters in Crime and leads a local mystery writers & readers group.

Website * Goodreads


I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.