Book Review: False Pretense

24 Oct

I loved, loved, loved Heather Day Gilbert‘s Murder in The Mountains series. Alas, I finished the last book, False Pretense, while on vacation a few weeks ago. I’ve been assured that Gilbert’s working on a new mystery series with a main character in the same vein as Tess Spenser. I sure hope so! I miss Tess already. šŸ˜‰ If you haven’t read this small town mystery series set in West Virginia, I urge you to do so NOW. LOL! It’s a 2022 Christy Award finalist for Short Form — I don’t need to say more.

Beloved amateur sleuth Tess Spencer returns in this fourth and finalĀ Murder in the MountainsĀ mystery.

Tess has her work cut out for herā€”from her day job at the police station to her nights on the campaign trail with her husband, she’s stretched thin. Her two young children also keep her busy, but thankfully she has a supportive mother-in-law who lives just next door.

When the legendary Mothman makes a terrifying appearance and a local librarian goes missing, Tess feels compelled to get involved, convinced something evil has been unleashed on her little town. Then another woman disappearsā€”this one bearing an eerie resemblance to Tessā€”and the police receive a cryptic message hinting that a serial killer is on the prowl.

After a nightmarish turn of events completely upends the Spencer family, Tess musters her courage to hunt for the monstrous murderer in the woods…even if she has to walk straight into the Mothman’s lair to do it.

False PretenseĀ brings a stunning and memorable conclusion to the award-winningĀ Murder in the MountainsĀ series.

Award-winning novelist Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing mysteries and Viking historicals. She brings authentic family relationships to the page, and she particularly delights in heroines who take a stand to protect those they love. Avid readers say Heather’s realistic characters–no matter what century–feel like best friends. When she’s not plotting stories, this native West Virginian can often be found hanging out with her husband and four children, playing video games, or reading Agatha Christie novels.

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My Impressions:

False Pretense takes the reader back to West Virginia and Tess Spenser for the last time. While I hate that I will no longer be able to join Tess in her sleuthing, I really did love the finale to the Murder in The Mountains series. Tess’ husband is running for District Attorney and facing a daunting opponent who won’t stop at anything. That, the reappearance of the mythical Moth Man, and two missing women adds additional stress to Tess’ life. The wife and mother who helps at the police station bears a striking resemblance to those missing. Could Tess be in danger too? The mystery is a puzzler keeping me on my reading toes. While False Pretense is a small-town mystery, I’m reluctant to call it a “cozy” — there are some darkish elements that add some creepy goodness to it. šŸ˜‰ One of its strengths is the exploration of family dynamics. Tess and her mother-in-law, in particular, have an envied relationship. Many characters from previous books in the series make an appearance, and the reader is given some closure with ongoing threads, plus a glimpse at the Spenser family in the years to come. One character, Axel, has intrigued me since I read book 1, Miranda Warning. While I was so wrong on just who Axel is, I loved his reveal.

Closing the cover on False Pretense was bittersweet. I am going to miss Tess, but Gilbert has many more stories and characters ready to go. If you haven’t read any of this series, be sure to get them all and enjoy the binge-reading ride!


Audience: Adults.

(I purchased the ebook from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

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