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The Fields

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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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Release Date: January 25, 2022 (thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review!)

Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis: Riley Fisher, newly promoted police sergeant in a rural Iowa county, becomes embroiled in a murder investigation when her childhood friend is found dead in a corn field, bringing up memories of dark secrets in Riley’s past. But things aren’t what they seem and soon one brutal murder turns into what may well be a serial killer on the hunt…

My Thoughts: I’m a big fan of police procedurals and an even bigger fan of Criminal Minds/anything involving behavioral analysis or serial killers. Because of this, for the first half of THE FIELDS I was completely engrossed and already contemplating the four-to-five-star review I would give, with minor dings for writing that occasionally came off as cheesy and a pretty painful lack of diversity (to be honest, this book was so white it actually felt like Young was TRYING not to have a single character of color and I strongly encourage her not to repeat that mistake when the series continues).

But then, the ending. I’m usually very willing to suspend my belief for a somewhat bizarre storyline, but this one went a couple bridges (or cornfields) too far. I don’t believe in spoilers in reviews, but I found the entire thing unbelievable, in the literal sense, and it made the entire book feel like science fiction (and not in a good way). This is the first entry in a planned series and I’ll still be giving the second one a try because I really enjoyed the characters and the setting, but I badly hope Young irons out the debut thriller issues (and crafts a more believable resolution) for her next installment.

Recommended if you like: gritty police procedurals; serial killer stories; rural farm drama.

CW: Gore/death/mutilation; rape/sexual assault; drugs, including addiction; mentions of suicide.
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The Fields is a solid crime thriller set against the backdrop of the Iowa agricultural industry. This combination of police procedural and local politics made for a compelling and bingeable read that was also supported by Erin Young’s fantastic writing and character development. As the clues come together about Chloe’s death, we also see how layered Riley’s character is and that she may have some long-held secrets of her own. 

This book is the first in a new series and I’m excited to see where it goes from here. 

Many thanks to Flatiron/MacMillan, NetGalley and the author for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This book should have some trigger warnings on it for rape, gore, cannibalism. It was a slow start and went into a lot of detail about agriculture , which the author clearly well-researched. However, it did make for a full start to the story. There’s a bit too much of information regarding agriculture, farming, and seed. I liked Riley as a character and I’m excited to see where the author takes her in the next book. If you have a weak stomach, this is not the book for you. The author goes into great detail about the murders of the women as well as what the murdered are going through. It did seem a bit conspiracy to me with the governor and the seed. I was able to overlook some of the more boring parts and make it through. It was a good read, but would have been better without all the extra unnecessary information. 
3. 5 stars rounded up to 4
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There is a lot going on in this book -  A lot of elements to the story, a lot of character names to retain, and a lot of graphic details to digest. For some, this will keep things interesting all the way through. I, however, did not find this to be overly thrilling and my investment in it wavered from time to time. 

Let me clear - it’s a solid mystery with complexities the author developed well. Police procedural seems to be the perfect place for her writing talent and I could see this working well - perhaps even better - as a movie. Plus, the reveals were intriguing, unique, and frightening. It was simply that the winding road travelled to get there was sometimes inundated with scenery and, other times, bland to look at. 

I did enjoy that there was some added social commentary, although it wasn’t as mentally stimulating all the way through as I first believed it would be. 

As the beginning of a series, I do think too much may have been packed into the first book, but that could mean I’ll find future installments more enjoyable, if I continue on. 

I am immensely grateful to Flatiron Books for my digital review copy through NetGalley. All opinions are my own. 

The Fields will be out on January 25!
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The summary of this book captured my interest and I enjoy stories with strong female lead characters, especially those involved with the military or law enforcement. That said, the beginning was confusing to me and unfortunately the remainder of the book was as well. A woman was savagely murdered in a corn field, a woman that Sergeant Riley Fisher recognized as someone that she had once known in college. When Riley questioned the husband, he seemed distraught, but admitted that he thought his wife was having an affair. Throughout the story, Riley had a difficult time getting answers as the story seemed to flounder back and forth from the murdered woman, to Riley’s own family situation, the production of corn seeds and big agriculture trying to take over the smaller farms. When another body is found (the condition of the body was especially graphic) does this have anything to do with her case? I received an advance review copy at no cost and without obligation for an honest review. (by paytonpuppy)
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Unfortunately, this one was not for me...this was unexpectedly graphic and overly political, which really took away from the overall story for me. The writing itself? It's clear that Ms. Young is a talented writer, but the subject matter wasn't my jam.
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Super creepy and atmospheric with lots of suspense and build up. It was a decent thriller. Easy to read too.
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The Fields by Erin Young is a dark and compelling police procedural set in Black Hawk County, Iowa and centres around the investigation into a series of brutal murders. The deaths are curious, with the first woman being found with a number of curious and puzzling wounds, deep in a cornfield. The person in charge of the investigation is recently promoted Sergeant Riley Fisher, a woman born and bred in Black Hawk County.

Set against a backdrop of acres of cornfields, agricultural businesses competing over corn and seeds , there is much more to The Fields than a murder mystery. Riley is the grandaughter of a well respected former Chief of Black Hawk County Police and the first woman to be promoted to Sergeant. Some colleagues are unhappy with her promotion and she feels the pressure of her position daily. Throw in the fact that the murdered woman is a childhood friend of hers and things are a little messy for Riley.

Young explores the weight of responsibility upon Riley. In her personal life she is tasked with keeping her erstwhile brother on the straight and narrow and she seems to be the only person making sure that her niece is happy and healthy in the midst of a messy divorce. Professionally, she knows that all eyes are upon her and she is being pressured for quick results from her superiors. Her life is complex and ticking away in the background, is the weight of a terrible secret which she has kept locked away in a box inside her head for many years.

The book does go to some dark and macabre places which I suspect some readers won’t enjoy, and I have to admit that it did make blanch on occasion but I didn’t feel it was unnecessary. There are a number of malevolent forces at play which interweave building a pressure cooker of tension and threat. It’s really well plotted and the overall feel reminded me of early Grisham in some ways. The depictions of a hot and sultry Iowa seep from the pages and provide a contrast against the dark deeds at play.

I’m not usually a fan of police procedurals as they can be a little too heavy on the procedural side for my liking, but this has a sufficient balance between the minutiae of a murder investigation and an intriguing plot to support it. It just feels like a good old fashioned crime novel. There’s big business, a political agenda, a small town, secrets, intrigue and at its centre a great protagonist. If dark crime books with a lot of layers are your thing, then The Fields could be for you.
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