Daily Review: The Cass Elliot Crime Series by Gae-Lynn Woods
December 29, 2017
The premise of each story could have come straight from almost any southern newspapers headlines.
As bestselling novelist Russell Blake wrote, this two-book series is “further proof that there are undiscovered novelists out there who can more than keep up with the big names. I expect we’ll be hearing more of Gae-Lynn Woods in the future.”
So do I.
The Devil of Light
A BIZARRE MURDER
When young Detective Cass Elliot responds to a 911 call at the home of a prominent businessman, she finds him violently murdered in the barnyard with his battered wife unconscious near the tool that killed him. Still raw from her own unsolved attack six years ago, Cass is stunned when confronted with graphic photographs scattered across their kitchen floor that lead to a shadowy sect called The Church of the True Believer.
A COVERT WEB OF LIES AND EXPLOITATION
Cass and her partner Mitch Stone delve into a cunning world of blackmail and violence – and find a cult concealed for nearly a century beneath the genteel, small town façade of Arcadia in East Texas. Their investigation triggers a brutal response from powerful men who will protect their identities at any cost. They unleash a ruthless killer whose actions create a media frenzy and destroy the fabric of trust within the police department.
A PERVASIVE EVIL
Cass and Mitch circle closer to the cult’s few members, following a slim lead into a night lit by fire. A night that begins with a blood ritual and ends with Cass holding a man’s life – or death – in her hands and struggling to walk the fine line between vengeance and justice.
The Devil of Light begins with a classic plot device of ‘a stranger comes into town.’ In this case, it’s the East Texas town of Arcadia, and the stranger is Hitch, an ex-con and a murderer.
His evil nature is recognized, at a glance, by the ‘Old Man,’ the leader of a religious cult that has been operating in this seemingly quiet rural community for generations. The Old Man offers Hitch employment. This act sparks the fire that will illuminate, to the general public, the activities of the secret society known as The Church of the True Believer.
Slowly uncovering all of their criminal activity is newly promoted, Cass Elliot, the first woman detective in Forney County. She has secrets of her own and a hidden agenda in pursuing law enforcement. Her secrets and those of the town collide in the stunning finale of this book.
Author Gae-Lynn Woods supplies a well-drawn cast of characters, supplying believable motivations that move the action forward. Her writing is lyrical and eloquent. You’ll be reluctant to put this book down, once you start reading it, and look forward to the next book in what promises to be an engrossing series.
Avengers of Blood
A deadly game of cat and mouse is playing out in Forney County…
Detective Cass Elliot is still on suspension after killing a fellow officer and Sheriff Hoffner refuses to sign her release papers. But when four people are murdered in one night, one with the exceptional brutality of a lynching, the Medical Examiner side-steps Hoffner to hire Cass and loan her to Forney County’s overstretched police department.
As Cass and her partner investigate, they realize that three of the murders were committed by the same person but find no connection between the victims. Their frustration intensifies when another victim survives and disappears instead of coming to the police.
Sheriff Hoffner is frantic about anonymous letters claiming one of his star officers is dirty, and Cass suspects a link to the current crimes. The pieces fall together when she uncovers the true identity of the man who was lynched, revealing connections between the victims, the killer, and an unpunished crime committed nearly fifty years ago.
By Dana Griffin
Avengers of Blood is the kind of books in a series I love. It has the same characters from The Devil of Light, the previous novel, who I had gotten to know and love; or hate. This one had a different engaging plot with aspects of the previous book’s unsolved mystery threading its way through the story. It also had a satisfying ending that left some questions unanswered telling me that soon I would be spending more time with my friends. It was written so that a reader who hadn’t read the first one wouldn’t feel lost.
Ms. Wood’s gift is creating small town characters that ring true. It’s apparent she’s spent some time observing people and storing their interactions for fodder for her stories. All of the characters in the story are flawed, some more than others, just like the people in our lives. Even the characters you root for you’ll wish could get over their insecurities and move on. But they would not seem realistic if they shrugged off what’s been a part of their life.
This story’s premise could have come straight from almost any southern newspapers headlines. There’s a gruesome murder in the first chapter discovered by a murderer denied the revenge they’ve been waiting all their life to seek. That engaged this reader as I knew the denied murderer would seek their revenge on those that stole it from them.
Maxine, a new character, was introduced in this story and made for smile evoking reading with her interactions with Cassie, the protagonist.
Please click HERE to find the Cass Elliott Crime series on Amazon.