Book Review: Guilt by Association

18 Dec

Tess Spencer hadn’t planned on returning to her hometown, but when her ex-prisoner mom puts in a special request, Tess overcomes her hesitance to help her turn over a new leaf. Pearletta Vee’s drug-dealing past is resurrected when the body of an overdosed teen shows up — right next to her trailer. Tess decides to stick around and investigate, yet the evidence is stacked against Pearletta. Tess suspects a setup — but why? Never one to back down from a challenge, Tess takes on a wayward teen, an abusive grandma, and more than one drug dealer in her quest for the truth. But it’s going to take a miracle to keep her from becoming a casualty in her own personal war on drugs. Plunging into the shadowy reality of the drug epidemic in West Virginia, Guilt by Association is the third book in the award-winning Murder in the Mountains mystery series.


Heather Day Gilbert, a Grace Award winner and bestselling author, writes novels that capture life in all its messy, bittersweet, hope-filled glory. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, generational story-telling runs in her blood. Heather writes Viking historicals and contemporary mystery/suspense. Publisher’s Weekly gave Heather’s Viking historical Forest Child a starred review, saying it is “an engaging story depicting timeless human struggles with faith, love, loyalty, and leadership”.

Find Heather on Pinterest (heatherdgilbert), Instagram (@heatherdaygilbert), Twitter (@heatherdgilbert), and Facebook (heatherdaygilbert). You can find all her books at


My Impressions:

Heather Day Gilbert has got another winner on her hands with her newest Murder in The Mountains novel, Guilt by Association. Gilbert tackles the very timely subject of opioid addiction and drug overdoses as Tess returns to her roots. Smart, witty, and insightful, this novel is perfect for fans of a good mystery. Highly recommended!

Wife and mother, Tess Spencer finds trouble wherever she goes, and when she returns to her hometown, a dead body shows up on her mother’s doorstep. Due to her stint in jail for drug dealing, all evidence points to Tess’ mother Pearletta Vee. But Tess refuses to believe her mother would resort to murder, and sets out to find the real perpetrator.

Tess’ return to her mother’s trailer and the town in which she grew up, causes her to confront the past — her mother’s drug-dealing, her father’s abandonment, and her own determination to end the cycle of of broken lives and relationships. Tess is a complex character, and in Guilt by Association the reader sees the influences that make Tess who she is. Never one to shy away from a dangerous situation, Tess finds herself in more than a few in this novel. Her mama-bear instincts kick in as well. I loved the sub-plot introduced in which she intervenes in a child’s abusive home life. Tess’ investigation progresses slowly (not a bad thing) with lots of suspects and plot twists. I was surprised by whodunit, and the uncovering of the murderer is filled with suspense and danger — wonderful page-turning action. Gilbert handles the subject matter of the drug epidemic in an honest and thoughtful manner, and she sheds light on the heartbreak that accompanies the snare of drugs. The only negative I found is the limited involvement of Tess’ stalker/florist. Axel is a great character and was on the spot when Tess needed him. But I just have to know more about this mysterious German giant! 😉

Guilt by Association is the third in the series and can be read as a standalone. But you don’t want to miss any of Tess’ adventures, so start at the beginning with Miranda Warning. You may want to consider binge-reading all three novels during your Christmas break — just saying. 😉

Highly Recommended.

Audience: older teens and adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to the author for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

3 Responses to “Book Review: Guilt by Association”

  1. Heather Day Gilbert (@heatherdgilbert) December 18, 2017 at 9:11 am #

    Thanks so much for reading and reviewing, Beckie! I’m thrilled that you enjoyed it! And yes, Axel will have a starring role in the final book in this series! 🙂

    • rbclibrary December 18, 2017 at 3:58 pm #

      I’m suspicious about his assistant now as well. 😉


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