Cover Image: The Fields

The Fields

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This one didn’t really do it for me. It centers on newly minted police detective, Riley, whose first murder case is that of a childhood friend. Throughout the book, the reader learns more about Riley’s backstory while also figuring out the crime itself. 

The story is primarily a police procedural, which I wasn’t expecting but is a genre I enjoy. The part I didn’t love was the tie in the the politics around the agriculture industry- I’m just not interested in that sort of scandal, and it was more prominent than I anticipated.  Riley herself was a flawed but believable character. 

All in all, the resolution of the murder was sound and I found it to be a decent read, just didn’t really enjoy some of the subject matter. Thanks to Netgalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I would like to thank @Netgalley and @Flatiron Publishing for the opportunity to read and review this book.

The Fields  is a highly interesting police procedural set in the rural Corn Belt.  Riley Fisher, a recently promoted sergeant in the Black Hawk Sherrif’s Office, is confronted with the death of a woman who was once a close friend.  The death is violent and mysterious, as is dramatically portrayed in the opening scene, which follows the terrified young woman into a cornfield: 

“Her lungs were burning.  The thrumming in her ears was louder.  Something out there.  Coming closer.  She felt a fresh stab of terror as light smeared the shadows, the knotted canopy shimmering green above her….”

It’s a page-turning opening, which also hints at the level of writing to be expected from the rest of the book.  Without calling attention to themselves, the literary descriptions bring to life the bleak, opioid-ridden community which is increasingly dependent on Big Agriculture for its livelihood.  Trapped in this milieu, formerly independent farmers combine their family land into a co-op which serves as a testbed for a new strain of corn, designed to tolerate more extreme conditions.   

The insight into the problems of modern farming and the destruction wrought by Big Ag is one of the most interesting parts of the novel.  This passage will long remain in my mind:

 “She remembered when birds used to follow the plows in their hundreds, wheeling down to snatch up the worms that were unearthed.  These days, you hardly ever saw that.  Pesticides and synthetic fertilizers might help the corn grow fast and tall, but left no insects for the birds to eat.”

Unfortunately, the structure of the novel is not as well-controlled as the phrasing.  There are a great many characters, with puzzling point of view shifts away from Riley to unnamed minor characters.  Riley herself makes the expected number of stupid decisions that endanger herself and her job; and she has the expected traumatic backstory that somehow does little to illuminate her current life.  The plot expands too fast and too wide for reader credulity; and soon rural Iowan Riley is pursuing a serial killer linked to international agricultural espionage.  

Luckily, Riley’s relationships—especially with her brother Ethan, his daughter Maddie, and her grandfather Joe—are entirely believable and center the book in a compelling family struggle.  Riley herself is not particularly likable, but she is quite convincing; and her relationships with the other lawmen in her office seem similarly real.  

The realistic characterization and the vivid writing are, to me, the most accomplished parts of the book, but the mystery and the information about modern agriculture will keep you reading.  If it were possible, I would give this novel 3.5 stars and recommend it to readers who like to learn something through their addiction to thrillers.
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Oof, this was a crime thriller debut where we are introduced to a female sergeant. I'm so not a lover of police procedural books and I was not aware this was that kind of story. However, I pushed through and really did like the prose. 3 stars for the writing!
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Thank you to NetGalley and Flatiron Publishing for the ARC of The Fields by Erin Young. As a small town girl, I can attest to the allure of a small town mystery or thriller. The circle is small, and you don’t quit know anyone like you thought you did. I certainly did not guess who the killer was and didn’t anticipate the “twist.” This was a good read.
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This book is an exceptional debut. For the most part, it felt well developed and tied up its lose ends. There was a lot of different plots happening at once in this book, inevitably leaving some things to be rushed. The plot lines did feel quiet busy in some parts but I did like how it came together and answered almost all questions going on in the book. 

The beginning scene definitely was a strong way to draw readers in and build suspense that the author upheld extremely well throughout the book. The author was able to capture the true sinister feel of the grizzly crimes throughout the novel as well. The detail of the crimes and crime scenes were very disturbing and not for the faint of heart. 

Main character Sergeant Riley’s traumatic past was told in parts that kept me guessing and was important to the plot as the sight of her old friend as a victim to an unknown killer brings decades of trauma to the surface. There was definitely a level of subplot about how exactly trauma can ruin your life and the lives around you which was, at times, extremely raw. Even still, I don’t know if the book fully handled that but it was an interesting dynamic as things in Riley’s smallish town just kept getting more and more bizarre.

All of that said, this book was very thrilling and did a good job of executing the multiple POVs. I wouldn’t say all of the twists/ how it came together was necessarily extremely hard to guess but the plot felt unique up until I realized a lot of the key points of the final solution were similar to the movie "Zootopia." While obviously this book has a lot more adult themes and storyline, there were obvious similarities and it made the plot feel less unique once I realized it.

Overall, I would still recommend this book as a pretty decent thriller/mystery. This book will obviously be continued and I would be very interested to read the next one as well.
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Erin Young has written a murder mystery that is complicated and at the same time easy to follow. In fact, it is so easy to follow it kept me up half the night so I could find out "who dun it". If this is book #1 of a series, I will definitely be reading more of them. 

Riley is a fractured, if not broken, woman who becomes a police detective. Her skills come under scrutiny when her first case is a murder that becomes more of a set of murders. She gets "help" from her boss, and even the governor, which raises the hair at the back of her neck, and the reader's also. Her family dynamics come into play when her brother is arrested by one of the detectives under her for drugs and her niece is having problems with all the emotions.

The Fields grabs your attention from the beginning and keeps it throughout. Highly recommended if you enjoy suspense and intrigue.
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A must read!  A roller coaster ride of suspense and red herrings with corporate/political corruption and murder in the heartland.    Interesting insight in Big Ag versus the small farmers which added to the intrigue.  What's going on is more than you think, and things tie together nicely.  Hope this is the beginning of a new series!
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My thanks to Flatiron Publishing, as well as to NetGalley, for the opportunity to read and review an early copy of The Fields!

This book tells the story of the newly-promoted head of investigations for Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office, Riley Fisher, and how she deals with the bizarre case of a lifetime! As the investigation grows more and more complicated, each victim is found with more harrowing injuries than the last.

There was a lot I liked about Riley, especially when she was in her bad-ass cop mode! She was definitely unpredictable and for the most part, she dealt with the rather gruesome crimes like a pro. Unfortunately, her personal life was a mess, and her dealings with THAT led to some foolish decisions. At times she was trying to protect family members and at others, it was because she didn't feel ready to share her suspicions with the other investigators.

Some other issues I had were 1) Holy moly, there were a lot of characters in the book!! My head was spinning, especially when I was trying to keep track of people who had similar names i.e., Logan and Larson. (Speaking of Logan, I reeeally liked him!) 2) It drove me a little crazy when Riley would sometimes go off on her own "behind-the-scenes" investigations, without telling anyone where she was going, or why. 3) My biggest issue was with an episode, which happened when Riley was a teenager, and it was told in tiny dribbles here and there throughout the book. I so dislike when authors do that. By the time it had all been told, I wondered why it had even been included in the book. I found it to be very distracting and, in my opinion, felt it might have made for a cleaner and smoother plot if it had been left out.

One unintentional editing error left me laughing out loud. A character named Jason was described as "slim and tanned with wavy brown hair and blue eyes. His plaid shirt bulged at his heart with a carton of cigarettes." That would be quite a bulge.😂 It makes me a little sad to know that will undoubtedly be corrected in the final book.

Anyway! I consider The Fields to be a promising debut. I very much enjoyed the parts where Riley and Logan were working together on the case. They worked like a well-oiled machine, rather than two people who had just started working together.
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The Fields by Erin Young—A gritty but flawed heroine propels this dark, imaginative thriller.

The Fields by Erin Young, who also writes historical fiction as Robyn Young, is the author’s debut crime thriller. The book, featuring Sergeant Riley Fisher of Black Hawk County (Iowa) Sheriff’s Office, is the latest in a series of entertaining thrillers I’ve read recently.

I was worried this book might be a bit predictable, from the title and knowing the genre. The premise seemed obvious. I expected the cops would discover the body of a murder victim in a remote field somewhere and then set about trying to solve the crime and identifying the killer. As someone who reads many crime thrillers, it wasn’t like I haven’t been there before. But, as I read the publisher’s synopsis, I found an interesting twist.

I learned that the story is set in rural Iowa and that a farmer discovered the expected murder victim in the cornfield of a family farm struggling to exist against the competition with the giant corporate farms of Big Agriculture. I found this compelling since most crime thrillers today are set in large, well-known cities with huge law enforcement agencies investigating the crimes. Finding a novel set in the rural heartland of America with a small county law enforcement agency investigating a horrific murder was a welcome change of pace.

I like that Young sets the stage quickly. When Sergeant Fisher, newly promoted head of the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Department investigations division, arrives on the scene of a gruesome murder, she discovers the victim is an old friend she grew up with. We soon learn that it complicates things for Fisher since it dredges up troubling memories of events from her past, memories of the worst thing that ever happened to her and nearly destroyed her life.

Young provides us the details of the past and present gradually in such a way that kept me riveted. I really liked this book because, though we’re kept in suspense about exactly what’s going to happen in the future, it highlights how the events of the past impact the way the story unfolds.

The Fields is a thriller as much about human nature and behavior and relationships as about unraveling secrets and mysteries and the eventual outcome of a criminal investigation. Here there’s a strong sense of grief and guilt as Young takes us into the mind of Riley Fisher, and we learn more about her childhood, adolescence, and her relationship with her family. Riley is a flawed and tortured heroine for reasons not all of her own making. But, she earned my empathy as she doggedly and courageously works to suppress the horrific memories of her past to lead her team in the investigation of what turns out a string of seemingly related murders.

Young kept me engaged as the story unfolded and often surprised me with intricate and compelling twists along the way. I also liked the support characters, including Riley’s partner Logan Wood, her brother, Ethan, a troubled addict, and her niece Maddie. Riley’s interactions with Ethan allow the reader insight into how the baggage they both carry from the past informs how they relate to each other.

Young paces the story well and keeps the twists coming, ultimately taking the reader in unexpected directions. While dark and at times devastating, the book is at the same time touching and uplifting. This novel, a strong debut in a planned series, is perfect for anyone who enjoys a suspenseful crime thriller with a strong female lead.

The Fields by Erin Young will be published in the United States by Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan Publishing, and goes on sale on January 25, 2022.

I received a copy of the book used for this review from the publisher via Net Galley, representing my honest and unbiased opinions.
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The Fields will grab you from the beginning and won't let go! The turn of events at every corner will keep you guessing who killed the lady in the cornfield in such a horrific cannibalizism way.
Political corruption that could cause an international threat to public.
A fabulous debut to a new series!
Thank you Net Galley and the author for a digital copy. Read and reviewed voluntarily and the opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
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This was so good, I had a pretty crappy read prior to reading this and was kind of like her we go again but this pleasantly surprised me! And I would consider purchasing this and adding to my collection. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me a copy of this fo read.
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Thank you Flatiron Books and Netgalley for providing me an eARC in exchange for an honest review

I really enjoyed this book. It was fast paced and compelling. It starts out with a brutal murder of a young woman who the main character has a past friendship with. It then follows the main character Sargent Riley Fisher as she works on solving the ever growing case as more victims turn up. I thought the plot was really interesting. I don’t want to say too much or else it will spoil the mystery but the foreign interests, government corruption, big agriculture and the growing complexity of the investigation kept me on my toes the entire time. I felt like I was reading a criminal minds episode. The details of the murders are graphic and intense and the nature of the murders are disturbing. So if you have a squeamish stomach I would definitely check the trigger warnings. My one critique is that I did find that the story had a lot of characters which I personally struggled with keeping straight. Also when the POV would switch I would find myself sometimes confused trying to keep track of who was who and what was happening. But overall I enjoyed this murder mystery.
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This was promising debut with blood freezing and intense opening: a brutally killed young woman lying in the corn field, discovered by drones flying around the area like vultures sniffing the smell of their preys. 

 It’s good combination of political thriller meets slow burn mystery takes place in small town where the farmers slowly lose their jobs to Big Agriculture: an industrial giant company taking over their farms from their hands. 

After the murders start to occur, some of the politicians try to benefit them for upcoming elections. 

  Two things about the book didn’t work so well for me: third narration storytelling and lots of characters I barely keep their names on my mind. 

  The story centered around Riley Fisher who recently becomes sergeant at her young age, investigating the dead girl’s murder who is found at the cornfield. Actually the girl was her childhood friend. But the murders don’t stop and she starts suspecting there’s a serial killer out there with ulterior motives and if she really wants to catch him, she needs to face her own skeletons in the closet. She has to dig more the biggest and ugliest secrets of townies against raising political threats and intimidating manners of her own folks. 

  The identity of the culprit was a little obvious. There was no big surprise or earth shattering revelation. 

I liked the characterization of heroine and her traumatic past story but I wish the book was told from her perspective with less characters more action scenes.

 I’m still rounding up my 3.5 stars to 4 town politics, agricultural rivalry, secrets, lies, brutal murders stars for promising start of it.
Special thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.
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*DNFed* Imma be honest here, i could tell that this book isnt for me. I dont love the writing style with all these unnecessary adjectives. The author also kept mentioning a “big ag,” vs a “little ag,” (agriculture), and being as I live in the midwest, i dont want to here about more cornfields. I didnt realize how centered this book would be around the “midwest lifestyle.”
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#TheFields #NetGalley 
Awesome novel. 
A young woman found dead in an Iowa cornfield, on one of the few family farms still managing to compete with the giants of Big Agriculture.
When Sergeant Riley Fisher, newly promoted to head of investigations for the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office, arrives on the scene, an already horrific crime becomes personal when she discovers the victim was a childhood friend, connected to a dark past she thought she’d left behind.
The investigation grows complicated as more victims are found. Drawn deeper in, Riley soon discovers implications far beyond her Midwest town. 
Go for this novel. 
Thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for giving me an advanced copy of this book.
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Thank you to Flatiron Books and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

The Fields by Erin Young is a gripping procedural thriller that is unputdownable from start to finish. The plot is told from a close 3rd person point of view and revolves around Riley Fisher, who was recently promoted to Sergeant at her small-town police department.  When a young murder victim turns out to be Riley's childhood friend, Riley will have to confront ghosts of her past while trying to find the killer in the present.  More bodies turn up, and it turns out she should be looking for a serial killer, not a one-off murderer.  Will Riley be able to discover the serial killer's identity, or will the ghosts of her past catch up to her?

Here is an excerpt from the chilling opening chapter when the first murder victim is running through an Iowa cornfield:

"She ran without thinking, without direction, desperation driving her deep into the fields. The endless rows of corn were an oppressive labyrinth, ripe heads bowing above her, snagging her hair. Blades whipped her palms as she thrashed through the towering stalks, not looking back.
...
Her lungs were burning. The thrumming in her ears was louder. Something out there. Coming closer. She felt a fresh stab of terror as light smeared the shadows, the knotted canopy shimmering green above her. She threw herself down, curling around the brace roots, eyes squeezed shut."

One of the highlights of this thriller is the excellent setting.  The Fields is set in a small town where farmers are losing their jobs due to an industrial company / Big Agriculture taking over.  It reminded me of the first 2 seasons of the hit procedural drama The Killing in that it focuses on one murder and then backs away from the scene to reveal connections to politicians, mercenaries, and Big Agriculture that involves the entire community.  
 If you like thrillers that involve an entire community, from the homeless man on the street to the state governor, then you definitely need to check out this book.  

If I had to nitpick about one thing, I would say that I only really enjoyed the chapters that focused on Riley..  Sometimes, the chapters would be from a 3rd person point of view that focused on other characters, and I had a hard time keeping the large cast of characters straight.  That's just a minor thing though, since most chapters were from Riley's perspective, and I enjoyed reading the mystery from her point of view.  If you're intrigued by the excerpt above, or if you're a fan of thrillers in general, I highly recommend that you check out this book when it comes out in January!
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This is author's debut crime thriller set in Iowa. It is a compelling story starting with the brutal killing of a young woman in a corn field having been tracked by a drone. We are introduced to the young female sergeant of investigations assigned to the case who also knew the murder victim during her teen years. This will not turn out to be a murder case that is easy to solve. As the investigation proceeds it grows in complexity accompanied by personal threats to safety of anyone working the case.
Big agriculture, foreign interests and corrupt politics all play their roles in defining the small town case as an international threat to the public.

NetGalley Advanced Reader Copy- Thank you! Will be published in 2022
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