Reckoning and Ruin by Tina Whittle is the fifth book in the “Tai Randolph” mystery series. Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press, April 2016

Reckoning and RuinReckoning and Ruin. That’s what Savannah is to Tai Randolph who’s gladly rebooted her life in Atlanta and is celebrating several landmarks. A year running the Confederate-themed gun shop she inherited with its busy schedule of reenactments. A year with her sexy, ex-SWAT-team lover Trey, now working a corporate security gig, who’s having to reboot his own life and brain after a terrible auto accident. A year of confronting a checkered list of ruffians and outright villains, mostly now put behind bars. One of those convicted criminals is her cousin Jasper, whose disreputable family was a big part of Tai’s childhood in Savannah.

Tai is determined to keep her amateur sleuthing in the past, not just for her sake, but for Trey’s. But here comes Jasper again, complete with a fancy, high-priced new lawyer and a scheme that will surely ruin Tai and Trey financially. But is there more? Jasper, the leader of a white militia splinter group too violent for even the Klan, must be up to something worse than wrecking Tai’s life. When other witnesses against Jasper start turning up dead, she decides she has to take him down once and for all. And act on her own, a strategy that high-adrenaline Tai has been working to modify in her life with Trey.

Soon she’s back in Savannah and deep in familiar troubles―a missing ex-boyfriend, a creepily poetic stalker, a passel of stolen money. She’s forced to confront old memories and older ghosts, including an uncomfortable reunion with her Uncle Boone, who’s keeping secrets he’d rather die with than reveal. Worst of all, her relationship with Trey starts to fray, and she realizes that chasing the truth might cost her the man she loves.

All I can say is “wow, this book blew my mind, in a good way.” The author has created a brilliantly executed creation of an emotional dynamic mystery that pulled me in immediately and had me spellbound in every nuance in the telling of this tale. This was a thrilling read that I could not put down because I had to know how the issues facing Tai — a jailed cousin, a hospitalized uncle, missing money, a slick lawyer, an ex-girlfriend, a mistrustful cousin and a body or two — were all going to play out, and then that sneaky twist near the end, oh yeah! This fast-paced, action-packed drama had our heroine going back to her hometown, and getting pulled into dangerous situations that will eventually open up a can of worms that will test Tai’s self-worth. A riveting drama that had me mesmerized and rooting for Tai as she travel through the heartland of this up and down roller-coaster between family and friends. This is the best book thus far and I’m looking forward to more exciting exploits with Tai, Trey and their friends.

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