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Signs of Struggle [Kindle Edition]

John Carenen
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $4.99
 
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Book Description

After losing his family in a tragic car accident, Thomas O’Shea finds himself driving around the Iowa countryside, trying to find peace on a quiet afternoon. But when he stops to admire a unique mailbox, he sees a beautiful, bloody woman racing down the country lane from her home, screaming for help. Not wanting to get involved, Thomas considers not helping. Eventually his heroic side wins out, one thing leads to another and he discovers an enormous plot to sell tens of millions of dollars’ worth of prime Iowa farmland.

As Thomas continues lifting up and peering under rocks in the beautiful river town of Rockbluff, Iowa, the more he learns…and the more he attracts those who will do anything to stop him. Attempts on his life are made, but O’Shea is a tough guy with nothing to lose as he struggles with the loss of his family, drinking, women, and his guilt for precipitating so much violence in this peaceful town filled with quirky and unforgettable characters.


Editorial Reviews

Review

Signs of Struggle is both a gripping murder mystery and a compelling study of one man s recovery from tragedy. John Carenen is a gifted writer and his novel is an impressive debut. ---- Ron Rash, author of Serena

About the Author

John Carenen, a native of Clinton, Iowa, graduated with an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from the prestigious University of Iowa Writers Workshop and has been writing ever since. His work has appeared numerous times in Reader’s Digest (including a First Person Award), McCall’s, Dynamic Years, and other periodicals. He has been a featured columnist in newspapers in Morganton, North Carolina and Clinton, South Carolina. His fiction has appeared in regional literary magazines. A novel, Son-up, Son-down, was published by the National Institute of Mental Health. He is happily married to (long-suffering) Elisabeth, and they have two grown daughters, Caitlin and Rowe. When he isn’t writing, he thinks about getting in shape, cheers for the Iowa Hawkeyes and Boston Red Sox, and takes frequent naps. He has traveled extensively, having visited 43 states and 23 countries. He is a USAF veteran, having served in the Philippines and Massachusetts. Currently an English professor at Newberry College in Newberry, South Carolina, he is hard at work on another novel.

Product Details

  • File Size: 713 KB
  • Print Length: 303 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0982697163
  • Publisher: Neverland Publishing Comapnay, LLC (November 29, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AFMJPI6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #608,918 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Action, Repartee, and Theodicy. What's not to like? December 25, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
John Carenen's crime fiction debut is a welcome addition to the field. He incorporates notes of Robert B. Parker's Spenser into an amateur sleuth novel, while offering a portrait of a man wrestling with the effort to reconstruct a life that has been destroyed.

Thomas O'Shea has returned to his home state of Iowa after his wife and daughters are killed in a car accident in Georgia. While driving near a small town, he finds himself first at the scene of a ghastly farm accident. He has questions about what he's seen, and those questions meet with resistance. What's interesting is that Carenen balances O'Shea's capacity for action (through a backstory that is hinted at, never explicitly revealed) with his status as an amateur. Meanwhile, the crime plot is sufficiently convoluted to keep the reader interested without pushing the "Oh, come on" switch.

One of the niftier elements of Carenen's work is his cast of supporting characters, including a Native American bar owner named Lunatic Mooning (sort of a Hawk to O'Shea's Spenser), a neighbor with a penchant for rehearsing his own death, and a number of other charming folks of greater and lesser nobility. Even O'Shea's bulldog (named Gotcha) has her own doggy appeal. There's plenty of personality here.

As the cover may suggest, the book also has religious aspects, and while those aren't common in crime fiction, they aren't heavy handed, and they work nicely here. O'Shea's struggles are moral and spiritual, as well as physical, and the book offers violence of the soul as well as the sorts to which crime readers are more accustomed.

In short, what we have here is a story where interesting things happen to people the reader cares about. Reportedly, Carenen is at work on a sequel. I look forward to it.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and darkly humerous October 15, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This novel delves deep into the psyche of a man who loses everything and decides to start over. A reluctant hero with a twisted since of humor, Thomas O'Shea immediately endears himself to the reader. After the loss of his wife and two daughters (not a spoiler), it is his devotion to Gloria, his English Bulldog, that allows the audience to see the true heart of the man despite his gruff and often sarcastic demeaner.

Even if you are not a fan of the murder mystery genre, Signs of Struggle delivers humor with heart and a variety of quirky characters (Lunatic Mooning and Bunza Steel, just to name two)that are sure to delight.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth it April 4, 2013
By Sarah K
Format:Paperback
Let me preface this by saying that I read roughly two books in the mystery/thriller genre per week. In other words, I go through a lot of books. Most end up with a three-star review. This book captured my interest immediately. It is very well written and has excellent character development. I was concerned that it would be too dramatic (the main character is recovering from the loss of his wife and two daughters), but was pleasantly surprised at the mix of emotion, action, and humor. I can't wait until Carenen's next book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining with Great Characters March 26, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book has many mysteries surrounding it, such as who is Thomas O'Shea, for he is not the mild mannered person he appears to be, and what is going on in this small town. One is answered the other is not but it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book.

Thomas is a man struggling. His entire family is killed in a horrific car accident leaving him reeling. He is trying to make his way back into life with the help of his bulldog "Gotcha". He moves to the small town of Rockbluff and with the help of bar tender and owner of the Grain of Truth Bar, Lunatic Mooning, he tries to immerse himself in the community. In the process he meets a host of other quirky and fabulous characters, such as Horace a dying man who is living every day as if it was his last, Bunza Steele another bar tender at a biker bar on the outskirts of town and many others that leave you laughing and some that make you want to run them over with your car.

My biggest complaint about this book was the ending. It felt rushed and I was left sort of dangling and wanting more closure. Who knows maybe the author is writing a sequel, maybe not, either way this was a highly entertaining book that kept you guessing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent January 6, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This was a very well written book and kept my interest. Look forward to read more from John Carehen. Thank you
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really Good Read January 4, 2013
Format:Paperback
I am an avid reader. a lot of books I read are what I call "fluff" because for over 30 years I was a school librarian and *had* to keep up with certain types of books for young people. That limited me from reading a lot of really good books. Not that I didn't want to , but just didn't have the extra time. John Carenen's book is certainly not "fluff"! I love a good mystery and this is one. I'm in the habit of "scanning" pages when I read, because a lot of authors just "fill" the pages with nonessentials. I don't happen to like that. I found that Mr. Carenen's writing does not allow that. I *loved* having to read every word!! His characters are well delineated. The relationships of all the characters are so believeable. So easy to lose one's self in this book. If you like a good mystery and good writing, try this one. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A very good story and it becomes quite a page turner half way through!
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars great story
Hard to put down with so many twists and turns plus the humor in the descriptions. Now I've fallen in love with Gotcha!
Published 2 months ago by Mamie
4.0 out of 5 stars A good first novel
John did a very good job with plot, story line and characters. I look forward to the next one. Very interesting.
Published 8 months ago by Mike Mead
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!!
I hope this author writes more books like this. Excellent writing, great main character, and interesting story. Hope to read more!!
Published 11 months ago by LOVETOREAD
4.0 out of 5 stars Who Done It?
A complicated murder series unwinds in the farmland of small town Iowa. The main character returns to his roots to escape his personal tragedy only to thrust into danger and... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Janelle Hatcher
5.0 out of 5 stars Signs of Struggle is a wonderful read!!
This story caught me from the get-go! The characters are well-defines, with quirky personalities, and a great deal of humor. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Susan Hawkins
5.0 out of 5 stars A brutal, funny, and heartfelt murder mystery.
Signs of Struggle is the kind of debut novel that mystery fans dream about: the narrator is likable and funny, the plot is complex-yet-not-overworked, and the cast of characters is... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Josiah D. Shoup
5.0 out of 5 stars Say Yes.
John Carenen's Signs of Struggle only pretends to be a murder mystery. In actuality, it is a romance. A bona fide love story between Thomas O'Shea and his own life. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Ramlerland
5.0 out of 5 stars Action, Romance, Humor, what more do you want?
I don't know what genre this book would be in because it has so many different facets. There's definitely a good amount of action, accompanied by a thick layer of sarcasm and wit,... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Norie Mueller
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping mystery
This book definitely takes you on a roller coaster ride with all its twists and turns. I loved the characters and the action was non stop. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Ann E.
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More About the Author

John Carenen, a native of Clinton, Iowa, graduated with an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from the prestigious University of Iowa Writers Workshop and has been writing ever since. His work has appeared numerous times in Reader's Digest (including a First Person Award), McCall's, Dynamic Years, and other periodicals. He has been a featured columnist in newspapers in Morganton, North Carolina and Clinton, South Carolina. His fiction has appeared in regional literary magazines. A novel, Son-up, Son-down, was published by the National Institute of Mental Health.

He is happily married to (long-suffering) Elisabeth, and they have two grown daughters, Caitlin and Rowe. When he isn't writing, he thinks about getting in shape, cheers for the Iowa Hawkeyes and Boston Red Sox, and takes frequent naps. He has traveled extensively, having visited 43 states and 23 countries. He is a USAF veteran, having served in the Philippines and Massachusetts.

Currently an English professor at Newberry College in Newberry, South Carolina, he is hard at work on another novel.

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