Member Reviews

Due to a sudden, unexpected passing in the family a few years ago and another more recently and my subsequent (mental) health issues stemming from that, I was unable to download this book in time to review it before it was archived as I did not visit this site for several years after the bereavements. This meant I didn't read or venture onto netgalley for years as not only did it remind me of that person as they shared my passion for reading, but I also struggled to maintain interest in anything due to overwhelming depression. I was therefore unable to download this title in time and so I couldn't give a review as it wasn't successfully acquired before it was archived. The second issue that has happened with some of my other books is that I had them downloaded to one particular device and said device is now defunct, so I have no access to those books anymore, sadly.

This means I can't leave an accurate reflection of my feelings towards the book as I am unable to read it now and so I am leaving a message of explanation instead. I am now back to reading and reviewing full time as once considerable time had passed I have found that books have been helping me significantly in terms of my mindset and mental health - this was after having no interest in anything for quite a number of years after the passings. Anything requested and approved will be read and a review written and posted to Amazon (where I am a Hall of Famer & Top Reviewer), Goodreads (where I have several thousand friends and the same amount who follow my reviews) and Waterstones (or Barnes & Noble if the publisher is American based). Thank you for the opportunity and apologies for the inconvenience.

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Butcher Pen Road is the third book in the Maytubby & Bond western murder mystery procedural series by Kris Lackey. Released 13th July 2021 by Blackstone, it's 200 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats (paperback due out in July 2022).

I came into the series with this book, the third, and as such, struggled to keep the characters and their interrelationships straight in my mind in the beginning. There's not much backstory given in this book and all the settings and personal characteristics have to be gleaned from context. The writing is good, but delivered in staccato bursts and sentence fragments which might take some getting used to on the reader's part. The setting (rural Oklahoma, including tribal land) is palpable and the author does a very good job with the background descriptions of setting and place.

This is a multi-agency investigation, and a fair bit of the bandwidth is taken up by inter-departmental jockeying and bickering. It's nice to see the interplay and cooperation and trust between the main characters tribal Sergeant Bill Maytubby and local county Deputy Hannah Bond. The character motivations and underlying plot elements are not relayed in a straightforward manner and are often a bit lost in the chaotic narrative. I had some difficulty winnowing out the salient points and even after the denouement and resolution I was unsure why the initial murder -"needed"- to happen at all.

There is a tried and true trope in modern fiction of the local police being treated as bumpkins and the feds sweeping in and taking over to the detriment of the crime investigation and justice, but that wasn't my biggest problem with the book. Although it's very well written, the non-linear plotting and scene-hopping were confusing to me and negatively impacted my enjoyment. This was, however, a good read for me and I enjoyed it, and I intend to carry on with the series.

I recommend it to fans of western (USA) police procedurals with indigenous characters, just don't expect it to be Hillerman or even Craig Johnson. Fans of both of those authors will find lots to enjoy here though.

Three and a half stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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This is the third book in the Oklahoma police procedural series featuring Johnston County Deputy Hannah Bond and Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Sergeant Bill Maytubby. It can be read as a standalone. I like both Bond and Maytubby and have enjoyed their pairing in all three books. In this book, a young deaf boy, living with his single mother, discovers a dead body. The crime scene has been inexpertly staged. The victim had both a drunken, vengeful wife and a married mistress.

Although the case isn’t really in their territory, Bond and Maytubby investigate. I didn’t really understand why this happened, but that was only one of the many things I didn’t understand about this book. By the end of the book, I still didn’t really know why the victim had to die. That is probably my fault, since I found myself losing the thread of the plot when I was bombarded by the introduction of way too many characters and plot tangents. That was also my problem with the last book, and I hadn’t intended to continue with the series. I should have stuck with that. The books are just too cluttered for me.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

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This rollick will have you from the start. It’s offbeat truly lovable characters will make you sorry to see the ends tied up. Sgt Bill Maytubby and Deputy Hannah Bond are working to solve the death of a man in expensive fly fishing gear in a place with without public access. As the trail heats up and the threads begin unraveling , the common sense underscores the complexity of death and its complications. So Fun.

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This book might have been better if I had read the first two in the series. Without that background I was put off by the writing style and the (to me) peculiar ways that people interact. I didn't finish.

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This is the first book I’ve read by this author. I enjoyed reading a book with a completely different setting than I’m used to. Bill Maytubby and Hannah Bond were an interesting team. It took me a while at the beginning to sort out all the characters. I didn’t realize this was the third book in the series until much later. I think that is why it took me a bit to get them straight.

There were a lot of unusual or quirky characters from the deaf boy who witnessed a crime, to LeeRoy, a shotgun wielding man who may just turn out to be helpful. I enjoyed the mystery. There was more swearing in this book than I prefer. That was the main drawback for me.

Thank you to Blackstone Publishing for providing me with a free e-copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

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When a body is found dressed in expensive fishing gear two sizes too big, fly-fishing gear and trout to hand, in a creek too small for that kind of fishing, Lighthorse policeman Bill Maytubby and county deputy Hannah Bond know something’s hinky. It’s not their jurisdiction, though, because although the dead man was found on Chickasaw land, he’s not from the tribe nor does it appear he was killed there.

To be honest, even by the end of the book, I still didn’t understand what was going on, or why even the victim had been killed. It’s incredibly opaque and confusing, with multiple side plots which only appear to relate tangentially to the actual case. Bill and Hannah are both interesting, but we don’t get much backstory for either of them - I understand this is the third book in a series, but you really do need to give your characters something of an introduction, so new readers to the series aren’t completely lost, as I was.

I really struggled to finish this. I didn’t really care about the victim, and even though the case was eventually solved as to who did the crime, the why was never satisfactorily explained, for me. And this was disappointing, because I wanted to like it; it deviates from the standard mystery thrillers by having two protagonists of colour, one Native in Bill and a Black woman in Hannah. It just fails in several of the primary requirements for a mystery thriller; keeping me engaged and invested throughout and answering most of not all of the questions raised by the end. I can’t give it more than two stars.

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Hmm. I think those who have not read at least one of the two earlier books will find this a somewhat frustrating read, which is hard to write because it has so much potential. Maytubby and Bond are law enforcement officers faced with a puzzle when they investigate the death of a man who is found with fish in his creel that don't swim in the creek. This runs around the dark side of Oklahoma and into Texas but it's a short novel and the situations aren't really given the chance to evolve. Thanks to netgalley for the ARC.

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Honestly, I wanted to like this one; it's got the major ingredients I love, like being a series with a couple of intriguing-sounding characters, here in the form of Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Sergeant Bill Maytubby and his friend, Johnston County Deputy Hanna Bond. This book is the third in the series and my first) - and therein, perhaps, lies my problem. By the end of the first handful of chapters, I was totally lost - in part, I suspect, because I had no background from which to draw.

Character after character came into play, many of whom go by different names and nicknames depending on the chapter and who's mentioning them - some I suspect made appearances in previous books and some probably are new to this one. Interspersed often in the conversations were words and phrases I've never heard of before, with no explanation as to what they meant nor context to provide a way to figure it out. Add to that jumbled sentences here and there - Kindle formatting errors, I suppose - and by the halfway point I really wanted to call it quits. But I persevered, mostly because the book came as a pre-release review copy courtesy of the publisher (via NetGalley) - and with these, I've always pledged to finish what I start.

What I gleaned is this: Maytubby and Bond are called to a local creek to examine the dead body of a man who was found by a young deaf boy who lives with his mother. At first, it looks to be some kind of fishing accident, but clues like finding fish in the dead guy's creel that don't live in the creek suggest it's more likely murder. Later, it appears someone wants to permanently silence the boy, and it's up to Maytubby - who has ties to the local Native American tribes (and may be one himself - never did find that out, nor how he ended up in this relatively desolate place) and Bond to keep him and his mother safe. When he gets a spare minute, Maytubby makes nice with his fiancee, Jill, who I think may be some kind of health food expert (or alternatively, a total nutcase on the subject). He also buys tons of food for friends and rents airplanes with his own money; I have no idea where or how he got it, but I find it hard to believe he has that much to spare on a backwoods Oklahoma sheriff's salary.

I will concede that the final chapter cleared up some of my confusion, mostly done in a conversational summary of everything that happened from beginning to end. And ttttthat's all I've got. The crimes pretty much get solved in the end (there's more than one here, but I never understood the others nor was able to connect the dots among them, if any), mostly by Maytubby's sleuthing around, sometimes barefoot (okay, so what's up with that)? My conclusion and recommendation? Reading the first two books is a requirement before tackling this one. Sorry I can't be more positive, but it is what it is.

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Kris Lackey's Bill Maytubby and Hannah Bond books just keep getting better and better. Crazy characters and a good mystery make this a great read.

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Butcher Pen Road: running wild in the backwoods
A dead body found in a sleepy creek in rural Oklahoma – at first glance, this is a city-slicker fisherman, sneaking some fly-time out of season, who’s slipped on the rocks. But tribal policeman Bill Maytubby and country deputy Hannah Bond aren’t so easily fooled. The fish in dead man’s keep-net are all wrong for his bait. His gear is too new to be credible. The tracks on the trail suggest different footwear worn by someone taller, with a longer stride. And why is the boy who found the body quite so scared?

Fair warning: this review might get a bit gushing. There are a few crime writers who can expertly evoke a sense of place and of genuine people; who can transfer those authentic voices to the printed page. Kris Lackey is one of those authors. It’s no mean feat and it’s punishingly tough to accomplish in minimal prose. James Lee Burke transports his readers to the Deep South and has a wicked ear for cadence and conflict but… let’s face it, JLB uses a thousand words to tie a shoelace.

Similarly, John Sandford’s dialogue simply sparkles but both of his charismatic protagonists tend to wander off piste these days. With the Bond and Maytubby series, Lackey has created characters every bit as witty and engaging as Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers.

But Lackey’s investigators aren’t Hollywood-style superheroes who get shot in every engagement and can call in an air-strike if the going gets tough. You can believe in Hannah Bond and Bill Maytubby: they live in the same world that we do. They’re methodical, competent and experienced officers… who put themselves in harm’s way to protect the people of their community.

We’re with Bill all the way as he nibbles a veggie health snack, kicks off his shoes to better track his suspects, and details a crime scene with meticulous conscience. You can’t help but admire Hannah as she sweats the day away, sweeping the dirt to secure a vital piece of evidence (and then devours dripping red meat for her supper.) And if they have to sidestep a few regulations – and run rings around a rookie state investigator – well, they take their share of punches, too.

The two earlier books in this series sensitively illuminated some delicate societal issues. This time there’s not so much emphasis on the cultural intricacies of the Chickasaw nation but instead the spotlight falls on a profoundly deaf young man. He’s the key witness who has seen more than he understands and can easily express – but he’s no token victim and nor is the author playing the sympathy card. The lad is a fully-fledged personality with all the grubby grey ambiguities of adolescence – and the determined courage to stand up to the murderers who stalk him.

As Bond and Maytubby follow their evidence they encounter bitter rivalry between bad neighbours, a strange set-up at a healthcare centre, and the bizarre sight of a Roman amphitheatre being hewn from limestone by an aggressive born-again. The initial killing, it seems, is more than an isolated incident. These men have secrets and they’re prepared to kill again to protect them…

I should come clean and admit that at times I couldn’t quite see where the disparate threads of this story were heading. The plot gallops along at a cracking pace over a few short days, and you have to run alongside Bill, through the brush and dry river-beds, just to keep up. At times, I was too swept up by the chase to understand what was actually happening. The final two chapters explain it all, but I would’ve appreciated a little bit more of a recap in the middle.

And yes, I appreciate the irony that I’m actually asking for a little bit more exposition when I admire the pared-back simplicity of the author’s style so much. Even so, it would’ve helped me if Bill’s conversations with his nutritionist partner provided a little more illumination on the progress of the plot. (And rutabaga – or ‘swede’ as we call them in the UK – are cattle food in any country!) However, I wouldn’t want to miss any of the affectionate double-entendre between this pair in their mature, loving relationship.

By the time the final page rolled around I was fully caught up with exactly what had happened, and thoroughly delighted with Maytubby’s deft manipulation of the multi-agency debrief. This is a crime series which wears its humanity firmly on its sleeve. There may be moments of outright aggression and blunt force, but the negative effects are kept in check by the likeable characters and their affable good humour. There’s none of the bleak nihilism which so frequently permeates crime fiction set in backwoods America. The result is ultimately uplifting and affirming, and I can’t wait for the next one.

Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason /

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Sorry! I just could not finish this book. It seemed to be haphazardly written and difficult to follow. The plot seemed to go all over the place. I don't want to rain on the author's parade, so I will not be posting this review to any of the sites I use.

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Thank you to NetGalley, Kris Lackey (author) and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read and review Butcher Pen Road.

Unfortunately I found this book too difficult for me to follow. The main plot was fine, but there were too many sub plots or distractions that were unnecessary. I had to go back and read previous pages several times to try to find out what I had missed, but that didn't work either.

There were the two or three main characters in the book, but then there were a lot of minor people who made it a bit too confusing.

I did read the book and the last chapter finally described what the book was about and most of it made sense then. If some of this was detailed more earlier on it would have made the book more easy to follow and therefore more enjoyable.

It wasn't a total disaster and could have been a good book.

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