Broken Rhodes by Kimber Silver

“Good Lord, I am back in redneck hell,” realizes Kinsley Rhodes, when she first returns to her hometown of Harlow, Kansas to attend her grandfather’s funeral. The author perfectly captures small town life from Pearl’s Diner to the local liquor store – busy before noon. Kinsley is a tough-minded, young professional woman in her mid-20s. She soon meets Lincoln, the town sheriff and “Marlboro Man lookalike.” We discover her grandfather, Henry, had been murdered. Also, something bad had happened to Kinsley as a teen, which has resulted in her being standoffish – particularly with men. While readers find out in doses what Kinsley had endured, Silver deftly manages to keep the mystery of her grandfather’s murder throughout.

Silver’s characterizations of the various locals are amazing, as depicted in their conversations, as well as in her vivid descriptions of their dress and behavior. In discussing the murder, Jack Levine, a farmer, typifies the colorful colloquial speech of the locals: “S’pose there’ll be lotsa talk. The lady folk are nervous as cats on a hot tin roof.”

It’s not easy for Kinsley to adjust to being back in Harlow. She snipes at Lincoln who expects her to cook for him (or so she thinks): “Oh, I do apologize! I forgot I’m back in good ol’ boy country.” Despite her coolness, Lincoln’s wildly attracted to Kinsley and can’t help but show it. At first, she’s put off by his “brazen familiarity.” Her anger toward him keeps her sadness over the loss of her grandfather at bay, but Kinsley soon realizes her attraction. It isn’t long before she looks forward to spending time with him – even cooking for him. While Lincoln has a macho side, he’s so much more; while Kinsley’s a cool badass – she’s so much more. Her inner strength and determination (fostered from the love of her grandfather and Leon, popular musician and dear family friend) helped get her through a particularly troubled past.

Kimber Silver’s ability to express the complexity of the two major characters makes this book a thoroughly compelling one. Her writing is magical: she causes the electrical charge between Kinsley and Lincoln to jump right off the page! Propelled by their original anger over the killer on the loose, as well as their attraction for each other, they work together on the case like two well-suited detectives.

The town is curiously silent; no one seems to know who could have committed the crime. It isn’t long before we realize that Kinsley is in danger. She had made more than one enemy before she originally moved away. How is it even possible—given what she’s experienced—to wind up having both grit and compassion?

Minor characters—both good and evil—add much to the tale-telling. While not all are suspects, the author gives us just enough for us to come up with a list of possible ones. The ending was a total surprise. In fact, there’s more than one surprise in store. Not wanting to give any spoilers, suffice to say, this page-turner was one of the best I’ve ever read! BROKEN RHODES is both beautifully written and engaging. I can’t wait for Kimber Silver’s next title!