“I would love to hear readers’ comments concerning this book, both positive and negative. It was my first attempt...”

So writes John W Long, author of Red Blood on White Cotton at the end of this incredible novel, and right off the bat I’d like to tell him that I could only wish my first book had been half as good as this one! Not only is the plot superbly developed, but the characters and what happens to them are unforgettable.

Long has chosen to move back and forth between the present and the past to tell this story. In the hands of a less-skilled writer, this can be a quick way to lose readers. But in Red Blood on White Cotton it is necessary, since what happened to the protagonist, John Reynolds, as a child, has everything to do with who he is when we meet him at his father’s funeral: Calvin Reynolds, a wealthy plantation owner, was one cruel father.

It is finding out why John grew up hating his father that is the most memorable part of this story, even more engaging, perhaps, than the investigation on which John embarks in the present. This investigation is to solve the mystery of his beloved brother’s death 30 years earlier. What he finally uncovers about what was going on in his father’s life when John was just a youngster would have ruined his family’s standing in the community. It exposes corruption and criminal activities at all levels of society and politics, and makes for exciting reading as we wait for the crooks to get caught.

Red Blood on White Cotton is rich in historic detail re the hardshipsl endured by farming families and their workers. Long’s descriptions are eye-opening, graphic, never boring and definitely  unforgettable. Dialogue is realistic and expertly handled, and thankfully, the author knows the value of more showing and less telling, allowing readers to draw their own conclusions about all characters and their motivations. This is great writinI am really looking forward to what John W Long has in store for us next. Red Blood on White Cotton might be a tough act to follow! really looking forward to what John W Long has in store for us next. Red Blood on White Cotton might be a tough act to follow!

Book Review: TOUGH BLOOD by Susan Tuttle

OK all of you female private eyes out there! Move over. There’s a new P.I. on the block with an unusual first name, Skylark, and an even more unusual personality. She’s feisty, funny, snarky, and somewhat psychic. She’s also a thorn in the side of the lead detective on the trail of an especially horrific killer in Tough Blood, the first book of a new series by Susan Tuttle.

Now tracking down serial killers isn’t what Skylark normally does, but when this Neanderthal detective gets it in his head that Skylark is the killer, what’s a girl supposed to do but find a way to defend herself. She needs to find this brutal killer and prove to both him and the cop that she doesn’t take second place to any man. 

Like a dog with a bone between its teeth, despite the advice of her  devoted lawyer, Skylark won’t let this pursuit go. As horribly mutilated bodies keep surfacing and Skylark’s efforts land her in hospital more than once, Tough Blood moves forward at breakneck speed that leaves readers with only one thought: give us some more Skylark!

I can’t remember when I have enjoyed suspense fiction more. Enjoy is the best word for this novel: it has such a fascinating cast of well-developed and contrasting characters, not to mention the subtle irony of having a lead detective mirror many of the traits of the killer. There’s blood and gore, graphic and frightening, but there’s also so much humor, especially in the character of Skylark. What a wonderful blend Susan Tuttle has put together here. I, for one, can’t wait to read whatTuttle is cooking up for us  and Skylark in book 2. Grab this one and keep your eyes open for the next one!