Cover Image: Pay Dirt Road

Pay Dirt Road

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Pay Dirt Road, Samantha Jayne Allen's debut mystery, has a strong sense of place. She excels at bringing small-town Texas to life. Unfortunately, I found the plot plodding and slow. The flashbacks felt jarring and it wasn't always clear what timeline we were in.
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Thank you NetGalley for this advance Ebook/ Audio in exchange for my honest review.

This is about Annie who comes home after college and not being able to find a job in her field so she comes home and starts waitressing and then starts working with her grandfather as a PI. when one of her fellow waitress is found dead. Annie wants to  help to get to the bottom of what happen to her friend.

This book follows her looking for clues and getting to the bottom of what happen.

I felt the pacing a little slow there was just a lot of random moments in the story that didn't help advance the story for me. I had a feeling it was 1 of 2 people and I was spot on with the 2nd choice. Once she had memories from old parties things starting clicking.

I wish the pacing was a little bit faster and the end once we go there was a over far to fast for me.

I would be interested in reading more from this author since this was her debut.
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Thank you Netgalley and Recorded Books for the gifted audiobook I read alongside the physical ARC I got from Minotaur.
 
A pitch perfect portrayal of small town Texas. Annie has ended up back in her hometown after college and is unsure what is next on her life trajectory. When her fellow waitress from the local diner goes missing, she finds herself working with her grandfather, the former sheriff turned PI, to figure out who is responsible. She stumbles into crime solving, clues, and actually the conclusion of this case. Which could be marked as detrimental to this book, but I think it is an excellent series opener because it gives her so much room to grow and develop as an investigator. Sometimes detectives are too on the nose and almost clairvoyant in their crime solving skills, but Annie has grit and I think she is going to have such a great character arc over this series.
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Annie McIntyre is treading water.  She graduated from college and is now back home, figuring out what's next.  Home is Garrett, Texas, a small town she thought she was leaving behind.  She didn't think she would be back and working as a waitress at the town's cafe.  She also didn't think she would still be attracted and torn between two men she dated in high school.
The McIntyre family is well known.  Annie's grandfather was the police chief and everyone knows him.  Her father was a policeman as well for a while.  They live in town now but still have the old homestead farm.

Annie's life becomes even more complicated when a tragedy occurs.  Another waitress at the diner, Victoria, has been murdered.  Annie saw her the night she disappeared at a party she went to.  Victoria was drunk and flirting with some men from outside town; workers of a pipe construction company that wants to buy the land Victoria just inherited from her grandmother.  Annie looked for Victoria before she left but couldn't find her.  The next thing she heard was that Victoria's body had been found.  Could Annie have saved her if she had looked for her harder?  Can she find the murderer now?

This is a debut novel from Samantha Jayne Allen.  She gets the small town relationships and sense of boredom and frustration right.  Annie is a sympathetic character, searching for the next chapter in her life and caring for those around her.  The book has interesting subordinate characters such as Annie's private investigator grandfather and his woman partner and various women and men Annie grew up with but realizes she doesn't really know.  This book won the Tony Hillerman Prize for Best First Mystery set in the Southwest and is recommended for mystery readers.
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After talking with some trusted reviewers who didn't like this one, I decided to sample but could not get into this book. Thanks for the consideration.
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Perfectly serviceable small town mystery. After college Annie returns to her hometown, Garnett, Texas. She is working as a waitress when two murders happen on the same day. Annie joins forces with her Grandpa at his private investigation firm to solve these murders. 

**I received an electronic ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review of this book.
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I read this book with special interest because it's set in Central Texas, just a bit north of where I live in San Antonio. Unlike many books set in Texas, the details that gave it a sense of place weren't gratuitous or stereotypical but authentic and added to an understanding of the place that made the book's heroine, who is evolving from a half-hearted interest in law school to finding her place as a private detective in a family business. The victim in the case that pulls her in is appealing (a single mother), and the heroine's interest in her, as a co-worker who was there the night she disappeared, seems legitimate. There are some well-sketched minor characters, and there is good series potential here. I will look forward to it.
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Thank you Netgalley and publishers for my e-book of Pay Dirt Road by Samantha Jayne Allen. 

Synopsis:
Recently graduated from college and home waitressing, lacking not in ambition but certainly in direction, Annie is lured into the family business — a private investigation firm — by her supposed-to-be-retired grandfather, Leroy, despite the rest of the clan’s misgivings.

When a waitress at the café goes missing, Annie and Leroy begin an investigation that leads them down rural routes and haunted byways, to noxious-smelling oil fields and to the glowing neon of local honky-tonks. As Annie works to uncover the truth she finds herself identifying with the victim in increasing, unsettling ways, and realizes she must confront her own past — failed romances, a disturbing experience she’d rather forget, and the trick mirror of nostalgia itself — if she wants to survive this homecoming.

I immersed myself into Pay Dirt Road right away though it was more of a slow burn and often times I forgot what I had read.  I felt that this was a very character driven book which sometimes I do really enjoy. There were some interesting parts of the book and the premise was good. I do look forward to reading more by this author in the future.
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Pay Dirt Road is the debut novel by Samantha Jayne Allen.  It is a suspenseful book set in Garnett, TX.  Allen describes Garnett so vividly that it is easy for the reader to visualize this story coming to life.  This book is a quick read.
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This was supposed to be Friday Night Lights meets Mare of Easttown, but I didn't get that. 
Yes, this is set is the middle of nowhere, Texas. What I couldn't get was the fact that a group of 20+ year olds were partying out in the middle of nowhere with a keg like they were teens hiding out from their parents. Stuff I did as a teen growing up next door in New Mexico. These adults have jobs, don't they have places like houses or apartments they can party at? 
Annie came back home from college, but the only job she could get is as a waitress. Kind of a waste of her degree. Her grandfather, who is retired, is trying to get her to come work in the office of the private investigator's office. 
Right as all of this is happening, one of the waitresses goes missing, and there's a hit and run. Apparently it's too much for the police department, so Annie and her grandfather step up and help find the killer. 
So this sound like a very action packed story, but you would be wrong. The first quarter of the book was very slow. It picks up after that, so if you can get through that first quarter, you'll enjoy the story. It did take me longer than normal to read, and I had to read a couple of different books while reading this one, just until that slow period was over. 

**I received an ARC of this story of the publisher and Netgalley and this is my honest and voluntary review.
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This book had a lot of promise but ultimately fell flat for me. It was very atmospheric and exquisitely detailed, I could feel the Texas heat and the dust blowing in my face. The characters were kind of flat, I needed more emotion to feel invested. The mystery was perplexing but I couldn't understand some of the characters motives.
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This was marketed as Friday Night Lights meets Mare of Easttown. ehhh- not really, for me. This reminded me more of the Celeste Ng book "Everything We Didn't Say." Like this book, "Pay Dirt Road" took place in a small town and dealt with an investigation, but that's about where the similarities started and ended with M of E &FNL - but like "Everything We Didn't say," this had that murder vibe, environmental factors, and rifts in characters based on the crime. I must say that the author perfectly captured the essence of small town life with her colorful depictions: the dirt roads, the classic diner, the bonfires (which you could and hear the hiss and crackle off), the lights from Friday night football games; the cozy but wary feeling of a place that stands frozen in time and rarely ever changes. This was definitely a slow burn, but also held my attention all the way through. I loved the characters and the secrets they were all hiding. The ending was surprising and really well done. Crime fiction and murder mystery fans will enjoy this one. The entire book is very descriptive…the sights, the smells….while the case is slow to unfold. If you want to savor these, it is not a fast read. There really are two stories here. The primary seems to be more Annie’s family and her background history in her small town, with the murder almost secondary. Samantha Jayne Allen has written a terrific mystery and elevated the human dimensions and type of heroes available in the genre. Highly recommend.
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I had mixed feelings about Pay Dirt Road. There were things that I liked and others that didn't work for me. 

What worked:
o From the first pages, Samantha Jayne Allen gives the reader a vivid, descriptive picture of Garnett, Texas; there's a strong sense of place
o Great premise -- two murders rock a small town to its core
o Main character's Annie's backstory 

What didn't work:
o Slow pace of the novel; I read and listened to this book and preferred the audiobook as it kept me more engaged in the story
o While Annie is smart and determined to find her friend's killer, she constantly puts herself in unsafe situations as she investigates; she acts mostly as a solo investigator instead of an apprentice who has two experienced resources available to her
o Poor integration of the environmental aspect of the story (the handling was very superficial)

Overall, Pay Dirt Road is well written and had a lot of potential, but it didn't fully deliver for me. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Minotaur Books for a digital copy of this book.  All thoughts and opinions expressed in this voluntary review are my own.
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My husband and I listened to this audiobook on a long car ride. Unfortunately, we both felt that it was just okay. It mostly held our interest, but it felt slow and wasn’t all that engrossing. There was a fabulous sense of place, however, with the story taking taking place in a small town in Texas.

The main character, Annie, is a recent college graduate who is waitressing in her home town while she tries to figure out her next move. One of her coworkers goes missing and that forms the basis of the book’s main mystery. Her family has a tradition of law enforcement and her grandfather, a former sheriff, now has a small private investigation company with a female partner. Annie starts to work with her grandfather and partner, but she doesn’t have the experience to safely investigate and puts herself in danger over and over. One thing that I felt was realistic was how Annie felt about something that happened to her when she was in high school. (I can’t give more details without it being a spoiler.) A subtheme dealt with the effects of drilling for oil but its treatment of environmentalism was superficial at best. 

If there’s a sequel, we’ll be skipping it. “Too many books, too little time.”

The audiobook was narrated beautifully by Sandy Rustin, who did a wonderful job with all the voices and accents.

Thank you to Recorded Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to listen to an advance copy of this audiobook and to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advance reader copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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Pay Dirt Road tells the story of Annie, a recent college graduate feeling adrift who suddenly becomes involved in the family business when a waitress from her diner job goes missing. 

Nothing stood out or really wowed me about the story or the case they were solving. It felt like something was missing or wasn’t share about those involved and the ending wrapped up quickly.  

This book is on the shorter side so it didn’t take too long to read. I would recommend this to someone looking for a lighter mystery set in a small town. 


Thank you @minotaur_books and @netgalley for this eARC in exchange for my honest feedback.
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Wow, what descriptive writing!  I can smell the fields and almost taste the dust swirling up from country roads in rural Texas, where this story takes place.
Samantha Jayne Allen has such a way with words - the dialogue is so authentic, you hear the different inflections in each character's voice.  I have never lived in Texas, but she has made this small town so relatable and compelling, I practically stopped everything and just read for the rest of the day.

This book is what I always hope the reading experience will be, especially when I start a murder mystery.  I want to feel that I am living and working to solve the crime along with the protagonist. 
I want to feel that I care about the victim and know the back story for all the characters and situations leading up the main events.

Highly recommended for an engaging read.

This digital copy was given to me by Netgalley and Macmillan in exchange for an honest review.
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Friday Night Lights meets Mare of Eastown? YES PLEASE. 

However, I would not compare this book to either of those shows so I felt a little misled.  Sure it took place in a small town and dealt with an investigation, but that's about where the similarities started and ended.

The premise of this novel is great - a young waitress goes missing and her body turns up a couple weeks later.  Coinciding with the horrific murder was a hit and run that took place the same night the woman went missing.  A town is rocked to its core.  The local police department is in way over its head and everyone is a suspect.  Meanwhile, the town is under siege by huge corporations looking to build a pipeline through the county.  Is everything connected or is their little town just not so sleepy after all?

This novel reminded me quite a bit of Everything We Didn't Say with the small town murder and environmental aspects.  I didn't enjoy Everything We Didn't Say though so maybe books with the environmental premise just aren't for me.

The first 25% of this book was incredibly slow.  There seemed to be a lot of unnecessary character building and I wasn't very invested in the characters so even with the in depth details about them, I had a hard time keeping everyone straight.  Once we got to the meat of the story, the pacing improved, but I still struggled to maintain interest.  

It took me a minute to catch on to the killer but once I did, it felt glaringly obvious.  There were some small twists I wasn't expecting but they were just kind of thrown in at the end in a cleanup chapter which I generally dislike.

All in all this was an okay read but not one that will likely stick with me.  However, the writing was well done and the plot had a lot of potential so I will definitely read more from this author.

Thank you to Minotaur and NetGalley for a copy of this novel.
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Pay Dirt Road is a small town detective novel set in the southwest.  College grad Annie McIntyre returns home from college to ponder her next step and wait tables when a coworker is found murdered.  While not close to the victim, Annie feels a sense of responsibility to figure out what happened.  

Usually one of my favorite components of  small town mysteries is the eclectic cast of supporting characters that help give the story uniqueness - unfortunately in this one, the supporting characters felt one dimensional and just thrown in as more of a distraction.   Their backstories were not critical in shaping the story and actually made the plot a bit muddled.  I did like the character of Annie herself and would not be opposed to trying the next  book, if this becomes a series.  Thank you to NetGalley for a chance to read and review this book.
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Annie moves back to small town Texas after college. She works in a diner and seems to have no ambition. When an acquaintance turns up dead, she helps her PI grandfather and his partner investigate her murder. 
I wanted to like this book. It was slow but not so slow that I stopped reading it. The main character, Annie, just did not connect with me. She seemed promising but then made every poor decision and was just blah. She was just too nothing for me. Combine this with a very obvious mystery and nothing very exciting happening, and all my hopes for a memorable and outstanding book faded. OK book, but nothing to brag about here.
Thank you to Netgalley for the advance copy for review. 2.5 stars
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I really enjoyed this debut novel by a new to me author. I loved the characters and how they interact with each other. I hope there’s going to be more to this story and can’t wait to see what happens next!


I received a free copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving a review.
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