Starting off our April #cjsreads reads with an incredible murder mystery by Robin Yocum! A Welcome Murder was completely different than what I had been reading lately and what a welcome change it was!
Keep reading for a synopsis of this book and to see what we all thought of this one!
Synopsis from Goodreads
After his unspectacular professional baseball career ends with a knee injury in Toledo, Ohio, Johnny Earl gets busted for selling cocaine. After serving seven years in prison, all he wants to do is return to his hometown of Steubenville, retrieve the drug money he stashed before he went to jail, and start a new life where no one has ever heard of Johnny Earl.
However, before he can leave town with his money, Johnny is picked up for questioning in the murder of Rayce Daubner, the FBI informant who had set him up on drug charges in the first place. Then his former prison cellmate shows up–a white supremacist who wants the drug money to help fund an Aryan nation in the wilds of Idaho.
Five memorable characters, each with a separate agenda, come together in this layered tale of murder, deceit, and political intrigue.
WHAT CHANDRA THOUGHT
Vincent “Smoochie” Xenakis is married to Dena Marie Xenakis, who is having affairs with Johnny Earl and Sheriff Francis Roberson (who is married to Allison) and we get a glimpse into the world through each of these five points of view. Confusing? Not really. Robin Yocum does a great job with these multiple POVs. Set in a small town where everyone grew up together and have checkered pasts, this story is set around the murder of Rayce Daubner. No one really cares that he’s been murdered. He’s not well liked. But no one wants to be convicted either and they all have reasons to have wanted him dead.
Mostly this is centered around Johnny Earl – a high school sports hero who couldn’t make it in the big leagues and turned to drug dealing instead. Set up by Rayce and sent to prison, he emerges seven years later and is suspect number one when Rayce is murdered.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about this book when I first started reading it but as the pages turned, the more invested I became and wow are each of these characters screwed up in one way or the other. I love it! The author layers each of their stories in an easy to read way and I ended up reading the whole book in one sitting, staying up later than I had intended. It reminded me of Clue – “Mrs. So-and-So, in the basement, with her steel thighs.” Haha. Quite the fun read and at less than 300 pages, perfect for that interim book if you want something not so hefty.
I really enjoyed this book! I give this 5/5 stars! I’ve been overloaded with police procedurals lately, and this book approaches solving a murder in a much different way. It doesn’t focus on the investigation, instead, it focuses on the characters and their potential involvement, or how they’re connected to the victim. It was definitely something that I enjoyed and not nearly as heavy in the investigation like most crime thrillers can be.
We follow the perspective of 5 different characters: Johnny Earl, Sheriff Francis Roberson, his wife Allison Roberson, Vincent “Smoochie” Xenakis, and his wife Dena Marie Xenakis. When Rayce Daubner turns up murdered the small Ohio town of Steubenville is trying to solve who did it. Rayce wasn’t known for having many friends and had plenty of enemies that could have done it. With the information coming out that he was an FBI informant, Sheriff Roberson must work hard to find out who the killer was before the FBI takes control of the investigation. Not wanting to be upstaged because of his aspirations to become a Congressman, and one day the President of the United States.
I’ve said it before, I always love the thrillers where the stories bounce from character to character. We get questions answered as we go and clarification on events. I definitely wasn’t expecting the end – I had a few guesses throughout as to who the killer was but I was wrong! Robin Yocum did a great job building and developing the characters. Since they were all from the same small town growing up, there were some deep connections and history between them all. Johnny, the all-star athlete turned drug dealer. Dena Marie, the prom queen turned mother of two, divorced once, and married to the band geek. Vincent “Smoochie”, the band geek that married the prom queen. Sheriff Roberson, football player that left for FBI training just to return home to become the sheriff, and his wife, Allison, who will stop at nothing to be sure her husband becomes a Congressman.
This was a quick read and kept me guessing. Who doesn’t love drugs, murder, deceit, and political intrigue in a crime thriller?
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Set in the small town of Steubenville, Ohio and focusing on five very different characters, with five very different agendas, A Welcome Murder by Robin Yocum explores a layered tale of murder and deceit. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of this highly developed story.
I loved the narrative style of this book. Each character in this book has a fully elaborated back-story explaining their individual motivations and motives; no stone is left unturned as their POV is explored throughout the chapters. These perspectives gave a completely unique perspective and flow to the crime fiction genre and your regular run-of-the-mill police procedural style novel.
This one kind of reminded me a little bit of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night; all the characters are fully immersed and wrapped up in each other with their criminal involvement and their romantic relationships. This one was as juicy as any fiction novel and as equally suspense filled.
I also loved the secondary layer to the plot that followed the issues Johnny Earl faced with the added stress of his Aryan brotherhood hunting him down for their money.
My absolute favourite part in the novel was the development of Smoochie. It was absolutely hilarious to watch and I loved how Yocum let this seemingly secondary character take on a complete mind of his own.
Overall, I loved this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for something completely different; I think you’ll love to find yourself sucked into Steubenville!