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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Double Book Review: Dead Before Dying: A Shadow Valley Manor Novel (Book 1) by Kerry Schafer

Dead Before Dying: A Shadow Valley Manor Novel (The Shadow Valley Manor Series Book 1) 
by Kerry Schafer
February 9th, 2016
by Diversion Publishing
Paperback, 236 pages

Twisting and eerie, sharp and unforgettable, DEAD BEFORE DYING brings a heroine worthy of Sue Grafton to a terror worthy of Dean Koontz.

In this supernatural thriller, shot through with biting wit, Maureen Keslyn checks herself in to Shadow Valley Manor to recuperate and rehabilitate from her last job. There, she runs afoul of the stern director and makes friends with some of the other residents, mostly older, all harboring either a secret or a grudge. With secrets of her own, like why she has her own Federal Agent checking up on her, and how she injured herself in the first place, Maureen fits right in, even as she sticks out like a thorn.

But Shadow Valley isn t just for rest. Maureen is working undercover, seeking to find and eradicate whatever forces are picking off the residents (and staff) at a grisly clip. With her resources dwindling one death at a time, and unnatural forces seething to rise up once more, Maureen s experience fighting the supernatural will be her only hope to destroy a clever and powerful evil and her only chance at surviving it. She'll need people as paranoid as she is from the sheriff, to the undertaker's daughter, to a cook whose knife skills in the kitchen could prove deadly out of it if she is going to bring rest to the weary, and peace to the dead...

Jeanie G's Review

I give this story 4 1/2 "kick ass Maxine" sheep!

I loved the title of this book but didn't really know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised when I found the main character, Maureen, was not a young hottie but an "almost" senior citizen. Don't misunderstand, she was still a kick-ass, die hard FBI investigative character and I loved the fact that she was closer to my age than 99% of the PNF heroines I am usually reading about.

Add to that fact that she was a "normal" telling the story and it was a refreshing take on the paranormal world. At first I thought it might be a little dull if there wasn't a little romance in the story but the storyline and suggestion of attraction between Maureen and Jake was just enough to fill that void.

Who knew that a Nursing Home would offer up the perfect place for malice and mayhem! Perhaps those that actually work in those facilities wouldn't be so surprised but the fact that the same nursing home used to be a home for unwed mothers with laboratories and cells hidden underneath the building gave it a whole new purpose. After being recruited by a long lost love who was previously in the FBI paranormal unit, she arrives at the nursing home only to find that someone or something caused the death of the only one who could help her determine what was going on, who to trust (or not trust) and why were there so many deaths happening in this one facility on a regular basis.

She is aided by individuals that she finds have "special" talents but you never know who really "dunnit" until close to the finish. And is there a hint of a new rogue PN investigative team on the horizon? I hope so. I really liked the characters and the story platform. Cozy mystery abounds!! A definite pick up and read when it comes out.

Bianca Greenwood's Review

5 Sheep

Middle-aged Maureen Keslyn is recovering from her most recent supernatural recovery operation for the FBI. With the intent to hide in plain sight, Maureen immediately relocates to Shadow Valley Manor for some convalescence and undercover surveillance. The Manor, currently under the ownership of fellow FBI phenom and former lover Phil Evers, is an independent living home for the aged and the site of some recent and disturbing incidents. Maureen is soon confronted with a menacing presence threatening the lives of everyone in the home. As the body count rises, a colourful cast of characters surrounding The Manor provide an interesting and perplexing list of suspects in this creepy whodunit. 

Dead Before Dying is an entertaining, thrilling read with some original twists. The book is very much a murder mystery with a theme of paranormal threat. One aspect of the book I enjoyed was Maureen as the heroine. I applaud Schafer’s bravery in providing her readers a middle-aged main. In a genre dominated by female characters in their twenties, Maureen is a stand out. Her age makes her smart, experienced, and interesting. She’s more than sex appeal, and I like that. She’s certainly past the point of caring about the opinion of others and isn’t plagued by the exhausting self-doubt common among heroines of this genre. “I can be rude to anybody with aplomb,” reflects Maureen; a quality this reviewer can certainly get behind.

This mystery is imaginative and clever. The paranormal aspect widens the playing field for the murder mystery-based text. It takes a genre prone to predictability and makes it considerably more perplexing. This book proves true to Maureen’s musing that “you never know which piece of the puzzle will be the key to solving a mystery.”

So if you’re looking for a paranormal read a bit off the beaten path, check out Dead Before Dying, the first of Schafer’s Shadow Valley Mysteries.

About the Author:
Kerry Schafer writes fantasy with its teeth sunk into reality, mystery that delves into the paranormal, and women’s fiction that embraces the dark and twisty realms of humanity. The first two books of her Between trilogy (Between and Wakeworld) were published through Ace Books/Penguin. Due to the ever-shifting landscape of publishing, the concluding book of the trilogy - The Nothing - was released as an Indie book, thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. The first book in Kerry's Paranormal Mystery series, Dead Before Dying, will be released by Diversion Books on Feb 9, 2016. She also writes Women's Fiction as Kerry Anne King.

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