Stripped Bare by Shannon Baker is the first book in the NEW “Kate Fox” mystery series. Publisher: Forge, September 2016

stripped bareKate Fox is living the dream. She’s married to Grand County Sheriff Ted Conner, the heir to her beloved Nebraska Sandhills cattle ranch, where they live with Kate’s orphaned teenage niece, Carly. With the support of the well-connected Fox Clan, which includes Kate’s eight boisterous and interfering siblings, Ted’s reelection as Grand County Sheriff is virtually assured. That leaves Kate to the solitude and satisfaction of Frog Creek, her own slice of heaven.

One night Kate answers a shattering phone call from Roxy at the Bar J. Carly’s granddad Eldon, owner of the ranch, is dead and Ted has been shot and may never walk again. Kate vows to find the killer. She soon discovers Ted responded so quickly to the scene because he was already at the Bar J . . . in Roxy’s bed. And to add to her woes, Carly has gone missing.

Kate finds out that Eldon was considering selling his ranch to an obscenely rich environmentalist. Some in town hate the idea of an outsider buying up land, others are desperate to sell . . . and some might kill to get their way. As she becomes the victim of several “accidents,” Kate knows she must find the killer before it’s too late. . .

Shannon Baker does this to me every time I read one of her stories – and this one does not disappoint as it immediately grabbed my attention and nothing existed at that moment except what was happening in the Nebraska Sandhills. We meet Kate Fox who heads to the hospital when she learns her husband has been shot. Unbeknownst to her, she learns a secret that the whole town has known and it rocks her to the core. Connecting the dots between the shooting and the disappearance of her niece starts a journey that Kate must follow and what a wonderful ride this becomes.

A fast-paced and well-written drama that sets the tone in how this tale is told with the picturesque beauty of the land that takes center-stage in all that has transpired in this page-turning treatise. This mystery was fraught with danger here and there, especially not knowing who it was coming from, which increased the suspense factor up a notch and had me rooting for Kate. The author did a great job in dispensing clues throughout this book and when I first thought I had it figured out, the author changed directions with some surprising elements for the betterment in this intriguing tale. And that ending, pure heaven. Boasting an eclectic cast of characters led by strong-willed Kate, an engaging mystery and clever dialogue, this was an excellent read and I can’t wait to see where we go next with Kate and her friends in this exciting new debut series.

FTC Full Disclosure – I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) book from author.

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