Cover Image: The Fields

The Fields

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Member Reviews


It all begins with a body in a corn field...

Before we get started, can I just say that I find corn fields to be terrifying. There's just something about them. I can't. Who knows what is lurking in there. Seeing one mentioned in the synopsis for The Fields, I knew that I wanted to read this debut Crime Thriller.

Sergeant Riley Fisher, the head of investigations for Black Hawk County Sheriff's office is shocked, upon arriving on scene, when she discovers she knows the victim. Even though Riley and Chloe went their separate ways in their teen years, Riley is still rattled to the core by her estranged friend's tragic death.

The corn field is owned by a local co-op, Zephyr Farms, one of the very few to survive the crushing presence of Big Agriculture. Does Chloe have a connection to this place? How did she end up here and who would have wanted to harm her?

Riley dives deep into this investigation. After all, it's personal and soon finds herself in a dangerous world of politics and very big business. Not a comfortable place to be by any means. As more bodies start dropping, the pressure increases, with Riley pushing herself to her limits in order to get to the bottom of these cases before more innocent lives are loss.

While parts of this intrigued me, mostly the murdery bits, I felt like the structure of the story lost me at times. There were certain aspects, or sections, ((I'm not quite sure how to best explain what I mean)) that felt out of place and it would kick me out of the story. Along a similar vein, for me the pace was off, with my interest coming and going in waves. There was a solid mystery here, but at times it felt overshadowed by other things; namely politics, which personally, I could have done without.

With all of this being said, please don't take this the wrong way. I did enjoy this book. I see a lot of promise in Young's writing and would pick up the next book in the Riley Fisher series. This is a good start to series. I liked Riley a lot and look forward to learning more about her in the next installment.

She has a dark cloud hanging over her, a bit of a secret history, and I really want to know what that's all about. I'm hoping in the next book she'll spill it. So yeah, this wasn't a perfect read for me, or the most memorable, but I did enjoy it enough to continue on with the series. I'm actually looking forward to it.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Flatiron Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it!!

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I’m a sucker for dark procedurals with a female protagonist—especially if they have a personal connection to the crime. From reading the description, I knew THE FIELDS would check a lot of my boxes. I am happy to say that I was correct and that I really enjoyed Erin Young’s debut thriller.

As many reviewers have pointed out, Young’s prose is gorgeous. I also loved the fact that the book was as much about unpacking Riley’s own psyche and past mistakes as it was the present day crime. And though I know some people have complained about there being too much detail about the agriculture business, I loved the insider knowledge that the book offered. I felt like I was getting a nuanced peek into a world I didn’t know much about.

Thanks to NetGalley for an ebook copy. I will definitely be checking out whatever Erin Young writes next!

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Quick checklist to determine if Erin Young’s debut crime thriller, The Fields, is the right book for you:

- Do you live in Iowa?

- Can you stomach extremely graphic depictions of postmortem bodies, like those found in Karin Slaughter novels… but taken up a notch?

- Are you interested in the political debate about Big Agriculture and GMOs?

If you answered yes to all three of these questions, then oh boy this is your holy grail piece of fiction right here! Bodies are turning up in cornfields and barns and such, decomposing and full of maggots, and the motivation behind the killer might just be related to agricultural espionage.

Now listen, I’m from Iowa. Author Erin Young is not. She sure took notes while visiting the state though and packed her novel with alllll the Iowa things: State Fair butter cow, Maid Rite, Hawkeye sweatshirts, and lest we forget… FARMS! Yes, we do in fact grow stuff here. And yes, there are little farms and big farms, and GMO companies have a very big presence. As referenced in the book, other countries like China have indeed been caught trying to steal seeds from our soil and replicate them. Gotta feed the world, amiright!

If that last paragraph bored you, The Fields is probably too immersed in the world of agricultural politics to hold your interest. But if you’re like, heck yes, I want to dig into that and see characters take it to such extremes that people are being mutilated as a result, get yourself to a bookstore and buy it! Then preorder the follow up, since this is part one of a series featuring Sergeant Riley Fisher.

3.5 stars

My thanks to Flatiron Books for the gifted review copy via NetGalley and the invitation to participate in the blog tour for this release. The Fields is now available.

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I wanted so badly to like this one. I love police procedurals, especially with female leads, AND this is set in the midwest, so it felt a little bit like home to me. However, it was so slow and so hard to read. I didn't feel like I cared much about the characters and I just felt confused more often than not. Thank you to Flatiron for the advanced copy!

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Thank you to Flatiron books for the early ARC of this one. It started off a little slow then once I got into it it flew through. I enjoyed the story line of this one. If you have a week stomach I do not recommend reading this one. It can be a little bit to much in the description of the bodies. I myself loved it but for people who do not like that they will not like this book.
This was my first 5 star Crime fiction of the year.

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Sent to me by Netgalley for review…this book is a dark mystery with much intrigue…the story moves slowly but comes to a satisfying conclusion, although not easily discerned…

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This book is a procedural crime drama. When a body is found in the corn fields of Iowa, what’s at stake? Is there a serial killer on the loose or is there a political conspiracy? The book is paced well, with the stories and the development of character moving forward while keeping you interested. You are often left guessing as to what is going on and who’s responsible for all the deaths. If you liked Long Bright River or you like crime drama, this book may be right up your alley. I’m not the biggest fan of this genre but I found myself intrigued and curious and that’s important when you are reading a book.

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I have two admit, The Fields was not a top read for me. The books features a storyline of corruption within the agricultural industry and murder. The novel is somewhat graphic and there are a lot of characters to keep track of. Overall, the ending is not predictable and is worth a read by anyone looking for a police procedural-style book.

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Riley Fisher is a police-protégé. Following in her grandfather's footsteps, Riley was recently promoted to the Head of Investigations for the Black Hawk County Sherriff's Office. While her county of Iowa is typically sleepy, Riley is called to a crime scene one morning that is anything but. Arriving at a local farm, Riley is informed that there's been a brutal murder in the farm's sprawling field, and the victim is Riley's childhood friend. Riley is determined to stay objective and prove to her superiors that she was the right choice for Sergeant, but she quickly realizes this case is more complicated than it appears and her own past starts to creep in to the investigation. And just as Riley begins to explore leads, more victims are found. And just as more victims are found, larger forces come into play - including a competitive Gubernatorial election and big agricultural giant, Agri-Co. When all the pieces of the puzzle start to come together, Riley realizes that she might become the next victim if she doesn't solve this case quickly.

When I first read The Fields description, I was pumped because it's advertised as procedural series starring a badass woman fighting the system and solving crime. I went into this book thinking it could be my next favorite procedural series as I am the biggest Morgan Dane fan ever, but The Fields did not live up to my expectations. To begin, The Fields was long. Basically there are three major things happening in this book: finding a cannibalistic murderer; a heated election surrounding environmental policy (and secret deals with China??); and the influence of Agri-Co's power on small Iowa farmers. Needless to say, that is a lot of ground to cover in one book that's advertised as a simple thriller. In the author's effort to bring some extra drama to a standard murder-procedure plot, Riley's story became drowned in sub-plots and sub-characters that really didn't add much to the plot for me as a reader. By the end of the book, I did not feel any connection to Riley as a character nor was I excited to see what she will do next, which is not how a reader should feel after reading the first book of a series. I can't say the writing was bad, the book just dragged on so much that I was bored while reading it and, in the end, I didn't even care who the cannibalistic murderer was! All this to say, I don't recommend reading The Fields.


Thank you, Flatiron Books, for an advanced copy of The Fields in exchange for an honest review.

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Great characters. An intriguing story full of mystery and suspense. My first from this author and certainly won't be the last.

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I love police procedurals, especially those featuring female detectives and written by female authors. A couple of my favorite recent books in this vein have included Long Bright River by Liz Moore, and And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall.

So I was very excited to try The Fields by Erin Young. This book, about Riley Fisher, the new head of investigations in the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s office, also reminded me a bit of Mare of Easttown, a recent HBO show about a female detective in small Pennsylvania town.

I loved Riley. I was instantly gripped when the discovery of a body of a childhood friend sent her spiraling back to a traumatic event from her past. Another plus for me? The small town Midwestern setting (most of my family hails from the Midwest). I found the mystery suspenseful and the writing well-done and evocative.

Two things to keep in mind if you’re deciding whether to try this. First, it’s pretty high on the graphic violence and also high on the blood and gore. (I’m a little squeamish, so this was a bit of a sticking point for me, but I did okay.)

Second, the book had a strong political bent, looking at things like the far reach of big agriculture and the sinister side of genetic engineering. This was interesting to me … to a point. But for me, this aspect of the story cast too large a shadow over the entire book.

The overall vibe of the book was definitely a bit Long Bright River, for the small town procedural vibe and excellent writing. The Fields also reminded me of another favorite female crime fiction writer, Karin Slaughter. Her books are often tough reads and tackle difficult topics (like violence against women) with a political slant.

If you’re good with gore and are interested in the geopolitical side of farming, you should definitely give The Fields a try!

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This novel is about corruption and murder set against the backdrop of Iowa’s agricultural industry.

What I loved:
Riley’s POV was by far my favorite, especially as we got the learn more about her ties to the missing/murdered women. Hints were added to entice the reader to await the next case to challenge. Who doesn't love a thriller that they can't predict the ending? I loved the ending.

What I didn't love:
There is a large cast of characters and I had problems keeping track of who is who and how they fit into the plot. I feel like I was not really into any of the characters or feel personally connected to them. The death scenes are very graphic.

All things considered, unfortunately this was not one of my favorites. My full review and picture/post can be seen on my blog @homebodyreads

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THE FILEDS (Riley Fisher Book #1) by Erin Young is a gritty, dark, and intense start to a new police procedural crime thriller series featuring a rural American female police sergeant as the protagonist. This is a hunt for a serial killer and the author does not shy away from explicit crime scene descriptions which is fine for an ID and true crime lover as myself, but may be too graphic for some.

Newly promoted Sergeant Riley Fisher is to lead the Black Hawk, Iowa Sheriff’s Office Field Investigations Unit. A young woman is horrifically murdered and is found in a cornfield. When Riley arrives to investigate, she is shocked to discover the victim was a childhood friend.

As the investigation continues, so does the body count and the connection to Riley’s own dark past.

I really loved Riley and am very glad this is a series because there is still so much more I want to know about her. All the secondary characters are interesting and fully fleshed. I felt the police procedural plot was made more realistic with the missteps along the way instead of the usual step-by-step perfect investigation. The inclusion of government corruption and Big Ag interwoven throughout sometimes slowed the pace for me, but it was thought provoking. I will be interested to see where the author takes these characters in the future.

Overall, a strong start to a new police procedural crime thriller series with an intriguing new protagonist.

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The Fields started out strong; however, as the book went on it seemed to lose direction a bit by trying to cover too much ground plot wise. I did feel like the writing was good and look forward to seeing what this author puts out in the future. Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review.

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This one wasn’t for me but I did share a spotlight as part of the blog tour and appreciate the chance to do that!

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Sergeant Riley Fisher is the recently promoted head of the Field Investigations unit of the Sheriff’s Office in Black Hawk County, Iowa. When she’s called to the scene of a murder victim in the corn fields of one of the families who are part of the Zephyr cooperative, she was completely unprepared for knowing the woman’s identity. She was Chloe Miller, one of her two best friends when she was a young teen. It brings back a flood of wonderful and terrible memories of a time that changed her destiny.

One of the things that worked about this story was the fallibility of Riley and the small town department of deputies. This wasn’t a simple murder and there were lots of tentacles that led to complex issues and circumstances. Riley had good instincts but her inexperience as a leader led to some crucial mistakes. It felt realistic, no matter how frustrated I got with her because these were explosive issues well above the skill set of her team. Yes, they made mistakes but they were methodical and competent in their approach.

There was a lot of focus on agricultural issues related to big corporations and their dominance over small farmers who have family legacies and histories. I learned a lot about those issues and am grateful my hubby, who spent twenty years supporting them, was able to help on background. While the author may have shown some bias, she got the issues right. It was an education I didn’t know I wanted. Riley was also hampered by her own personal baggage that threatened to negatively interfere with the investigation but it just reflected her humanity. The story also has a strong sense of place, almost overly so as the descriptions often bogged down the mystery elements. But, it still made for an intriguing story that kept me interested. This is the first of a new series and while some things about Riley’s past were resolved, there was quite a bit more that left me hanging. It’s a strong start to promising series and I’m committed to the next book. 3.5 stars

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I enjoyed The Fields as a whole, but at times it felt like there was too much going on. Agricultural science, murder, theft of ideas, and you were flashing between character views. I found it a little hard to follow and couldn't remember what had happened earlier in the book. I did love the ending and appreciated that everything was wrapped up in one book, rather than having some questions left unanswered.

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If you love Tana French’s detective duos or Jane Harpers THE DRY but are looking for something with less expository prose, you will enjoy this crafty, atmospheric read.

Set in Iowa, somehow making corn 🌽 a thrilling proposition, it will remind readers of THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and leave you saying…

“This would make a great series”

Guess what, it is!!

A splashing of autopsy jargon, a deep, dark atmosphere, a sprinkling of small town, big politics, all contribute to this wonderful little nugget of a book that no one is talking about.

So many of the elements of this book were really good. There were a couple times where I felt a bit confused maybe more bogged downed by tying all of the elements together.

Overall, this was a solid debut and I am looking forward to the follow-up!


Thanks to Flatiron Books and Netgalley for the advanced copies!

Out 1.25.22

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Who knew corn could be so thrilling? THE FIELDS starts with a grisly bang and doesn't take its foot off of the gas from then until the heart-pounding conclusion. Sergeant Riley Fisher is surprised when a woman's brutalized corpse is found in a local cornfield--she's even more startled when the victim turns out to be her teenage best friend and again when other bodies begin piling up. What unravels is a thrilling mystery with an ever-expanding cast of suspects and ever-increasing stakes. A taught domestic thriller and tense political thriller rolled into one, THE FIELDS is the very promising start to a possible series of Riley Fisher novels. I'm sure I'm not the only one excited to see Riley tackle the darkness of her past!

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Sergeant Riley Fisher finds herself facing an old secret when her childhood friend Chloe is murdered. This procedural set in the corn fields is also a look at Big Ag and know that Young has strong feelings about it. Focus instead on the bones of the novel- Riley, Chloe, and the next woman murdered. Know also that this is graphic and grotesque in spots (more than I would have liked). It's told from multiple points of view, with Riley's voice being the strongest and most compelling. The atmospherics of a small town, a farming community, struggling with economic pressures come through loud and clear. No spoilers from me. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. I'm looking forward to more from Riley (and Young).

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