Brian Lucas has been in love with his best friend Sam since they were teenagers. Growing up in a small Midwestern town, they knew they needed to keep their relationship a secret, especially once Brian became the reverend at the Nine Mile Methodist Church. Though Sam is supportive of Brian’s chosen profession, he also dreams of the two of them leaving the homophobic community they call home so that they don’t have to live a lie. Despite his love for Sam, Brian isn’t ready to leave his congregation, especially now that his dream of opening a summer camp for youths has come to fruition.
As the summer heats up, a murderer appears to have set his/her sights on killing the little old ladies in Brian’s flock. As Brian’s brother, Greene County Sheriff Boyd Lucas, investigates the murders, Brian is caught up in chasing down the murderer who likes to taunt them with riddles. As Brian begins to realize the killer is too close for home for comfort, it will take more than prayer to set it right.
Welcome to the small Midwestern town of Nine Mile, population 327… or it was 327 until a murderer began targeting the little old ladies of Reverend Brian Lucas’ flock. A rural Midwestern farm town, everyone’s lives revolve around farming and the church. Brian dreamed of being the minister of the local Methodist Church since he was young. Now that he’s attained that dream, he hesitates to relinquish the role, even though remaining in this town means he has to continue to live his life in secret and continuously hurt his best friend and lover, Sam.
This story is told from Brian’s POV point of view. Right off, we realize that despite being a minister, Brian has plenty of uncharitable thoughts about the members of his congregation that will leave you in stitches. As the story opens, Brian’s church is holding its annual basket luncheon when he receives a call from his brother, who is supposed to be on his honeymoon, advising him that there was a murder of one of his church members and there may be more to come. Gathering his flock, he tells them of the murder and advises them to be cautious as there is a murderer amongst them.
For Brian, he is happy that he and his loved ones will be heading out of town to the new youth camp he worked so hard founding. With Sam, Mrs. Shanagan (Sam’s aunt), Jesse (his nephew), and Kyle (his nephew’s best friend) in tow, they head out to Sunset Lake to ready the camp for the coming summer session — only to be disturbed when a note with a religious riddle is left in the sheriff’s car taunting them of a second murder. Then a third… and a fourth.
This book is primarily a suspense/mystery/thriller with a bit of romance thrown in. As a mystery, this book hits it out of the park. I was sitting on the edge of my seat from the very first chapters trying to figure out who the murderer was. The list of candidates was endless!
As for the romance, unlike many romance stories, Brian and Sam have been in a committed relationship for twelve years, all of which they have kept hidden from everyone except Mrs. Shanagan who figured it out all on her own. Despite knowing how much he is hurting Sam by insisting on remaining in Nine Mile, Brian isn’t ready to leave the town or his church. Meanwhile, Sam is beginning to realize that unless he starts to push Brian into leaving, they will never be able to come out of hiding. Readers, don’t despair; despite this book being primarily a suspense/mystery, there are plenty of intimate scenes between Brian and Sam to heat things up.
Overall, I loved this book and didn’t want it to end. It had everything: humor, mystery/suspense, and romance all rolled into one! As a new-to-me author, I will definitely be looking for more of his works to add to my collection. I highly recommend this book!
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.