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The Heat of the Moon: A Rachel Goddard Mystery (Rachel Goddard Mysteries) Paperback – January 1, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Parshall's strong debut, a frightening psychological mystery, veterinarian Rachel Goddard is happy with her job at an animal hospital in McLean, Va., until the rainy day one of her favorite patients, a basset hound named Maude, is hit by a car. During the frantic moments when Maude's owner, Mrs. Coleman, delivers the injured dog to the hospital, Rachel finds herself trying to comfort the woman's three-year-old daughter, Kristin, who's upset because she's temporarily separated from her mother. This traumatic incident reminds Rachel of her younger sister as a child, provoking flashbacks that begin to haunt and torment her. The hospital's attractive new head doctor, Luke Campbell, can't quell her anguish as she searches for answers about her past, against the wishes of her own controlling mother and sister. Luke's behavior at a dinner party in one scene is unconvincing, but otherwise the characters are believable and natural. The fresh, mesmerizing plot will keep readers turning the pages to the very end. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Parshall's debut is a captivating tale of suspense and romance with gothic twists. Set in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., the story focuses on Rachel Goddard, a young veterinarian who, with her younger sister, Michelle, still lives in her mother's house. The sisters' father died in a car accident when Rachel was a child, but her mother remains reluctant to discuss any of the details--and is downright hostile when Rachel starts asking more difficult questions prompted by a repressed childhood memory that pops into her head. Complicating matters is Rachel's new boss, the handsome vet Dr. Luke Campbell, with whom Rachel experiences much more than puppy love. When Luke encourages Rachel to keep probing into her childhood, her mother insists that Rachel end the relationship. Readers will root for Rachel as she fights her cold mother and weak sister for the truth about what happened to her father--and discovers some disturbing things about herself. A standout debut that effectively crosses subgenres--more psychologically astute than many romantic-suspense tales, yet more romantic than high-end psychological thrillers. Jenny McLarin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Rachel Goddard Mysteries
  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; Reprint edition (January 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1464201129
  • ISBN-13: 978-1464201127
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #764,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sandra Parshall is the Agatha Award-winning author of the Rachel Goddard Mysteries. Although her series features a young female veterinarian and animals abound in the stories, the books aren't cozies. They've been called thrillers, suspense novels, and dark mysteries, and the author considers them a blend of all three subgenres. Sandra and her journalist husband share their home in the Washington, DC, area with two unbelievably spoiled cats, Emma and Gabriel, who have acquired their own fan base on Facebook and never let Mom forget it for a second.

Sandra is a past member of the national board of Sisters in Crime and a member of Mystery Writers of America. She interviews other writers regularly for the The Big Thrill, newsletter of International Thriller Writers, and she reviews crime fiction for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Her latest Rachel Goddard novel, POISONED GROUND (March 2014)), is a fast-paced story of the repercussions when a huge corporation invades the small mountain community of Mason County with the intention of building a sprawling resort for the wealthy. Their plans involve taking land from people who don't want to sell. No one is more vocally opposed to the company's predatory tactics than Rachel, and her outspokenness complicates the work of her new husband, Sheriff Tom Bridger. The jobless poor ally themselves with the money-hungry rich, and a small-scale civil war erupts. When a beloved husband and wife are gunned down on the farm they refused to sell, it seems supporters will stop at nothing to ensure the success of the resort. As the violence escalates, Tom and Rachel discover the attacks are more sinister than they appear, rooted deep in the poisoned ground beneath their county's bucolic surface.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on September 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
At 23, veterinarian Rachel Goddard has mixed emotions about life--satisfied with her job and life in general, she harbors regrets about her relationship with her mother, Judith and younger sister, Michelle. Although they live together in Judith's well-appointed home, they're not as close as Rachel would like; she's always felt that her mother favored Michelle over her.

She had chalked her negative feelings up to petty jealousy until the opening scene of this debut novel when she becomes convinced that there's another explanation for her distress. Certain it has something to do with her father, who died when she was a toddler, Rachel begins asking uncomfortable questions of her mother; this further poisons her family relationship, as Judith refuses to answer, and Michelle, ever the dutiful daughter, chastises her sister for the impertinent queries. Driven by impulses she doesn't fully understand, Rachel persists, forcing revelations that are as shocking as they are painful.

For a first novel, this book is surprisingly polished and accomplished--Parshall knows her stuff, and it shows. Readers will thrill to Rachel's journey of discovery, which leads to the book's first "ending." But it's the part of the book that follows that crescendo that makes this novel stand out, as Rachel is forced to react to her discoveries. It's here that she, and Parshall, prove themselves worthy of readers' attention and admiration; the book's true climax is touching and memorable.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on September 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Veterinarian Rachel Goddard is comforting a young girl whose dog was injured by a car, when a vivid memory of comforting her own younger sister resurfaces. They were very young, alone and frightened in the rain. Where did this memory come from? Why had she never remembered it before?

Rachel's mother has always been unwilling to speak of Rachel's father who died when Rachel was about the age of her new memory. What is her mother afraid of? Why is there only one photo of him still in existence? Rachel wants to know what other memories she may have buried from that time yet she is afraid of what she might find. And she doesn't know who can be trusted to help her uncover the truth.

This is an exquisite psychological mystery. Parshall peels away the layers of the world as Rachel has always known it to uncover the truth she isn't certain she wants to know. The story drew me in and held me enthralled straight through to the end. It will haunt me for a long time.

I highly recommend it.

Armchair Interviews agrees.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By J. S. BROWN on May 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
I read the second book first by mistake, then this one, this being the first book. But didn't matter..they were both great! I just finished this one..couldn't put it down. I am ready to begin the third one and have pre-ordered the fourth one to be out in September of this year.

This is such a great writer..her descriptions and words just take you there..when the phone rings you will jump since you have been so engrossed in a different time and place where the characters in the book are so real that you are a part of the scenary and action.

I spoke with the author via email. She will have another out next year, 2012. I can hardly wait!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ed Lynskey, on December 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Rachel Goddard is a likeable protagonist -- she's a young veterinarian who cares for cats and dogs as well as wild hawks and possums. She lives with her younger sister Michelle, a psychology student, and her mother Judith, a renowned psychologist, in a stately, large house in McLean, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C.

Life is good. Romance blossoms in Rachel's life. She loves her profession. Co-workers and friends like her. Then Rachel begins to experience disturbing memories. She lost her father at an early age and has difficulty remembering much about him. A desperate need soon arises in her to know more and she begins to investigate. Her mother Judith does her best to forestall Rachel's curiosity, but just why. . .?

This well-written, tightly-plotted debut novel moves at a jaunty clip. The mystery about Rachel's dark past unravels with satisfying twists and turns. Her work as a veterinarian adds considerable depth to the main character while the Washington, D.C. setting is vivid.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
The Heart of the Moon is a compelling debut by Sandra Parshall which hooks the reader from the first page. Rachel Goddard, a young veterinarian, has overwhelming yet confusing reaction after watching a toddler in her office, crying and screaming for her mommy. This scene seems like it is reminiscent of one she experienced in her childhood but it is nothing she can place in her concrete memory. Rachel remembers bits and pieces of such a scene, but a feeling tell her there is more. And the feeling will not go away. As Rachel keeps digging trying to remember her childhood more questions than answers arise.

Rachel wants answers from her mom about what happened but her mother doesn't want to discuss the past. As a psychologist, Rachel's mother has always been the controller, the perfect parent who expects nothing less of those around her. Rachel enlists the help of a friend of her mother's from the past but he doesn't want to betray Rachel's mother's trust or friendship. He also isn't sure he knows exactly what transpired himself. Her boss, fellow veterinarian Luke Campbell , encourages her to delve into the mystery of what might of occurred to cause her feelings. But Rachel is up against the desire of her mother and her beloved sister to leave the past alone. To make matters worse, the mutual attraction between Rachel and Luke is not appreciated by her mother who has taken an active dislike to him. Her sister, whom she has been close to all her life, is becoming distant and distinctly unsupportive of her quest for answers.

The Heart of The Moon is a page turning mystery as one tries to figure out what secrets Rachel's mother is hiding from her and her sister. In this psychological thriller Sandra Parshall has created characters that sizzle and steam, not women easily forgotten.
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