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The After School Murders: Book One in The War This Side of Heaven Paperback – October 5, 2012
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
From the Author
Here is suspense, mystery and true romance. If you're a fan of writers like Raymond Chandler and hard-boiled detective stories, and the style of humor that goes with it, here's a book and a trilogy for you. If you're a romance addict, you, too, will find happiness between the pages of The After School Murders and the books that will follow.
For mystery fans like myself, I've created a tough and very bright character in my teenage heroine, Janette West. She's seventeen going on forty, rides an Indian motorcycle, carries a snub-nose .38, and can hold her liquor. Being very attractive, she also has a few guys who pay her lots of attention. That's where the romance comes in.
Did I mention true romance? Yes, I did, and I meant it. For all who have fallen victim to the crushes of childhood or teen years, this book is for you. That which is so painfully common to us all, whether it is dreaming hopelessly about a movie idol, a fellow classmate or maybe even a teacher, is ever and always a hopeless situation. But not for Janette West. She finds her hero in David Conrad, the mysterious teacher with a dark and tragic past who joins her in catching the serial killer that lures young girls into a deadly trap.
There is no gratuitous sex or violence in The After School Murders or in any of the books in The War This Side of Heaven series. Just a lot of fun and suspense. One case is completely solved in the first book, but the romance--and the mystery that accompanies it--must by nature have more in the way of twists and turns with the development, due to the delicate nature of the situation between a young woman who is still a minor and an adult man who doesn't want to end up in jail just because he's in love.
So drift back in time to 1968 and come discover a delightful cast of characters that follow the trail of mystery and romance along Route 66. You'll be very glad you did.
From the Back Cover
School is back in session-and it's murder!
Janette West is a girl who takes murder seriously-especially if it's her own. Having once escaped the clutches of school teacher Jacob Noonan in junior high, she comes face to face again with the threat of his evil when she returns after a long absence to finish high school. Confident that she can stay out of danger, Janette determines to discover his method for seduction and murder of the girls who weren't as lucky as she. But she can't do it alone and stay alive. With the help of her classmates in the Amateur Detective's Guild and a particularly handsome and mysterious faculty member by the name of David Conrad, it looks like she's about to put Jacob Noonan out of business-until she finds herself in the trap he set for her.
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Top customer reviews
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Fashion-conscious and natty dresser, Janette West, a high school senior, has come back to school to complete her schooling after a year and a half of absence while she was living at a religious kibbutz.
She and her friends have formed an amateur detective group, and they work together to stop bullying or intimidation, whether committed by teachers or students. When they suspect one of the teachers is actually a serial killer, who has murdered several students, they formulate a plan to expose him.
Their plan includes co-opting handsome teacher, Mr. Conrad, to help. This teacher has been unable to hide his interest in Janette as a woman, and the spark of romantic interest is ignited when he and Janette find themselves together at her home.
The author's deep religious beliefs are expressed through Janette and this story has an excellent moral message. I would definitely recommend it, and endorse it for young adult readers.
For the reader who enjoys a good story of mystery or suspense, this is a fast and entertaining read. Though the theme makes it fine for young adults, the time period of the 1960s makes it great for older adults, and it has appeal for both sexes. The heroine packs a gun or two, rides an Indian motorcycle and is sort of the hard boiled detective type. It's also a safe read, since there isn't any heavy violence or gore or any details on the sexual aspects of the crimes. The romance, however, is a bit different than what some readers may be used to, because this isn't just a novel about boy meets girl while catching a killer and solving a mystery. Anyone who is more than an average reader will find that this book contains far more than the main plot. The author has added certain true to life social issues in the setup with her characters, who/what they are and their relationships. Age, race, religion, class, and culture clash are underlying themes that add a realistic color to the story. Personally, I find this refreshing because it does make the story more realistic, and I imagine the conflict will get even more interesting as it continues into the next two books. While some may find the religious aspects a little strong, they are not at all preachy, nor is the social commentary. Andrew Greeley, G. K. Chesterton (the Father Brown Mysteries), and some of the others (mostly Catholic, it seems), also put social and religious tones to their mysteries and thrillers that do not spoil the story for the reader with zealous over kill. This one, however, seems to lean more toward Judaism as it deals with the problems Janette West faces because her unique religion makes her not really fit anywhere, and she has to, in some circumstances, conceal what she believes. Once established, these themes are interwoven in a manner that helps to move the story along with more interest. The heroine's problem actually works in her favor when it comes to getting better acquainted with the handsome and rich Mr. Conrad who is her teacher and just happens to be a Jew in a place (New Mexico) that is predominantly Catholic/Christian. It puts them together in the same cozy little boat; and that boat is obviously headed toward romance and solving whatever mystery is behind this man. I honestly enjoyed this book, and I'm looking forward to seeing how that cozy little boat moves along.
I read "The After School Murders (The War This Side of Heaven)" by Sharon Evans, and was disappointed by how long it took to actually get to any murder.
The descriptions of Jeanette's background and life were good. I enjoyed the slice of history (story takes place during 'the 60s') Ms. Evans describes. But I felt she dwelt too long describing Jeanette's life. I was antsy after awhile, waiting for SOMETHING to happen, and this was frustrating. Definately start the murders sooner.
This book is definately for a Christian audience who might want to read a murder mystery relating to high school, and that has Christian values throughout. I am not so sure that non-Christian readers would appreciate it as much. But, ultimately, one never knows!