“I can’t wait for my thirtieth reunion” — said nobody ever
On a recent post about reunions, Kassandra Lamb commented,
The last reunion I attended was my thirtieth. (We won’t get into how many years ago that was.) The fat girl everybody had made fun of was a famous medical doctor and the guy voted most likely to succeed was an ex DJ who tried to sell me life insurance. I figured that was as good as it gets so I haven’t gone to one since.
Lucky for us, that didn’t stop Kassandra Lamb from torturing her characters with everything from thirtieth reunions, to visits with in-laws, to murder.
BlurbTown secrets, an old nemesis, a corpse–what else will show up at Skip’s high school reunion in Texas?When Kate and her husband arrive in his hometown for the event, they discover that new disputes have been heaped on top of old animosities. Tempers flare, fists fly, and before the evening is out, Skip stumbles upon a dead body.Fortunately the town’s sheriff is an old buddy of his, but will that keep him from becoming a prime suspect? Trying to uncover the real murderer leads Kate and Skip to uncover long-buried secrets instead, and their names just might end up on the killer’s must-die list.
- Book Title: Ten-Gallon Tensions in Texas
- Author: Kassandra Lamb
- Genre: Cozy Mystery
Length: 363 pages
Publisher: Misterio Press LLC (March 24, 2015)
- Purchase Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU
We used to try to go on vacation with friends. That was until we went three years in a row with couples who divorced immediately after they got back. Year three, in fact, he actually disappeared in the middle of the trip, leaving her, the kids, and his mother in our (shared) beach house for another week of vacation fun. But even that couldn’t stack up to vacationing with Kate Huntington, the heroine of Kassandra Lamb’s mystery series. Poor Kate hardly ever even gets unpacked before stumbling over bodies.
Ten-Gallon Tensions in Texas is the latest release in Kassandra Lamb’s Kate on Vacation series, add-ons to the Kate Huntington mysteries. This time, Kate talks her husband Skip into combining two of the most emotional vacation landmines out there–visiting the in-laws, and attending the thirtieth reunion of his high school class. Despite Skip’s noticeably unenthusiastic response – “Why would I want to do that? I hated high school” – three months later the family arrives in his small Texas hometown. Skip knows he’s returning as the owner of a successful business, with his beautiful and also successful wife and their children. But even after thirty years, the bullies who made Skip’s high school years so miserable haven’t changed. And as psychotherapist Kate observes, “Some bullies outgrew the need to tear down others in order to build themselves up. Others did not. The latter made dangerous foes.”
One of the things I love about Kassandra Lamb’s writing is that she seems to subscribe to the geodes theory. At least, she doesn’t hesitate to break her characters open and see what’s inside. As Kate discovered when her first husband was murdered, and as Skip discovers when he faces the tormentors from his youth, what’s inside each of them is very fine indeed. But when the shells are cracked among former classmates and family, Kate and Skip find themselves navigating the emotional quicksand of family members dealing with business and personal disaster, former classmates’ attempted intimidation, and oh yeah, that dead body.
Kate doesn’t fit neatly into the main trope of a cozy mystery. She’s not an old lady who knits, runs a bookstore, or has cats. But, as Agatha Christie tells us, “
Policemen asking questions are being policemen, but little old ladies asking questions are just being little old ladies.— Miss Marple
What’s particularly fun is that as a trained psychotherapist, Kate not only knows how to ask the questions, she knows what questions to ask. This keeps the story moving at a brisk pace, but allows plenty of time for us to get to know the small town cast, and get a feel for resentments and rivalries that have festered for decades, producing motives that range from petty to universal.
Kassandra Lamb’s knowledge of what motivates and drives people brings credibility and weight to her stories. As always, her ongoing themes of the importance of family – the ones we’re born into, the ones we choose, and the ones we accept without blood or legal ties – provide both the foundation for every book and the negative illustration of their power when those ties are abused.
But what really struck me as I read this latest release, is the way Kassandra Lamb’s confidence and power as a writer have grown with each addition to the series. Sure, I enjoyed the first book in the series, but I can honestly say that each new book showcases a writer whose command of her genre is remarkable.
Want a cozy mystery? Grab your knitting needles and Miss Marple. Want a clever, action-packed mystery that will challenge you to identify an unlikely killer while navigating the emotional shoals of family and friendship? Grab the sides of your chair and hang on. But don’t worry – Kate Huntington is there to help.
But if she asks you to go on vacation with her, I’d go back to the knitting. And don’t worry—I won’t ask you to vacation with me.
*I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*