Cover Image: And There He Kept Her

And There He Kept Her

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When you explain the book out loud, the synopsis sounds great.  But once I started reading it fell flat for me. A lot of smaller details and un-needed information was thrown in there and made the story line drag out. I usually get a book done in a day or two but this took me so long. I didn’t look forward to picking it back up and had to push myself through it.
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And There He Kept Her by Joshua Moehling grabbed my attention from the first page and did not let go. Hard to believe this is a debut novel! As you can tell from the dark cover, its a thriller/suspense that is perfectly creepy. It begins with two teens breaking into a house in search of narcotics, little do they know the homeowner is there and he doesn’t take kindly to these kids invading his space…. and the story is off and running!

Here’s what you need to know:

When two teenagers break into a house on a remote lake in search of prescription drugs, what starts as a simple burglary turns into a nightmare for all involved. Emmett Burr has secrets he’s been keeping in his basement for more than two decades, and he’ll do anything to keep his past from being revealed. As he gets the upper hand on his tormentors, the lines blur between victim, abuser, and protector.

Personal tragedy has sent former police officer Ben Packard back to the small Minnesota town of Sandy Lake in search of a fresh start. Now a sheriff’s deputy, Packard is leading the investigation into the missing teens, motivated by a family connection. As clues dry up and time runs out to save them, Packard is forced to reveal his own secrets and dig deep to uncover the dark past of the place he now calls home.

Coming out in June.
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337 pages

5 stars

Emmett Burr is hiding a big secret. This book contains vignettes describing Emmett and his actions. Emmett also has a quasi friend or partner of sorts.

Acting sheriff of Sandy Lake Ben Packard catches the case of two missing teens. Alerted by his estranged cousin, Susan, she reports her daughter Jenny missing. Following up on leads, Ben knows that she and her boyfriend Jesse left together - and without their cell phones.

Meanwhile, Jenny and Jesse break into an old ramshackle house in search of prescription drugs. Tragedy strikes.

Ben’s investigation leads him to a conspiracy of sorts. There is a group of people who break into houses and take mostly opioid drugs. When they start getting killed, Ben and his fellow deputies are continuing their investigation. 

The plot of this book is complicated and fascinating. In between responding to the usual nuisance calls and auto accidents, the search for the killer intensifies. 

Digging deeper into the conspiracy reveals secrets long held. 

This book tells a story that is told on two levels. The investigation is one while on the other hand, we see what happens between Jenny, Emmett and his circle of acquaintances.  The tension is palpable and slowly increases as the pages fly by. The conclusion of the story is exciting and well told. 

There are bodies everywhere…

This is Mr. Moehling’s debut novel. It is absolutely great! It is very well written and plotted. The transitions are smooth and nearly flawless. I was very pleased at the well thought out and colorful descriptions of the characters and the scenery of the little town of Sandy Lake. I really liked Ben and hope to read more about him. I would have liked to know more about him, but that may come in future books. 

I want to thank NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for forwarding to me a copy of this remarkable debut novel for me to read, enjoy and review. The opinions expressed here are solely my own.
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I got this ebook from netgalley in exchange for a review! This book started out a bit slow for me but when I got to between 20-25% it picked up and it turned out to be such a good book ! A very fast paced book! The characters were great and storyline was too. I liked how the book ended , I'd definitely recommend this book even though it's not my usual genre.
When two teenagers break into a house on a remote lake in search of prescription drugs, what starts as a simple burglary turns into a nightmare for all involved. Emmett Burr has secrets he's been keeping in his basement for more than two decades, and he'll do anything to keep his past from being revealed. As he gets the upper hand on his tormentors, the lines blur between victim, abuser, and protector.

Personal tragedy has sent former police officer Ben Packard back to the small Minnesota town of Sandy Lake in search of a fresh start. Now a sheriff's deputy, Packard is leading the investigation into the missing teens, motivated by a family connection. As clues dry up and time runs out to save them, Packard is forced to reveal his own secrets and dig deep to uncover the dark past of the place he now calls home.

Unrelentingly suspenseful and written with a piercing gaze into the dark depths of the human soul, And There He Kept Her is a thrilling page-turner that introduces readers to a complicated new hero and forces us to consider the true nature of evil.
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A small lakeside town which suffered from the disappearance of two women 20 years earlier, now finds itself without the Chief of Police when they need him the most.  Newcomer to the squad, Packard becomes the acting Chief handling squabbles between neighbors, minor car accidents and general slow, small town crime.  Thrown into the investigation of the disappearance of his cousin's 16-year-old daughter, Packard discovers a narcotics ring run by the grandson of the current Chief of Police.  How the disappearance of Jenny is tied to drugs, murder and a secret kept for 30 years keeps the plot moving along.  A personal secret kept by Packard is sprinkled throughout the story but does not add anything to the investigation of the crime itself.  Various secondary characters are given minor rolls in the unraveling of the mystery.  Enjoyable reading for the crime itself, but could have been tightened up a bit.
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A dark twisty thriller set in the Northwoods of Minnesota. The book does take an unexpected turn at the end and your sympathies may waiver.
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This was a debut novel.  My usual complaints about debut novels was seen here, in that the author tried to include too much about what was going on socially at the time of the writing.. The plot was great, intense and very  visual.  Small town USA proves to have the same problems as large town metropolitan USA.  Multiple medical issues, drug abuse, depression, issues with sexuality, depression, over bearing parents, and narrow mindedness just to name a few.

Two seemingly good high school kids disappear and newly moved to the area Ben Packard, acting Sheriff, must solve the crime.  He is an intense thought provoking character who easily could become a series maker.

Highly recommend
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3.5 stars 

This is a good one, I enjoyed it. It's well-written and what I loved most about this book is the amazing and fair portrayal of the protagonist. And it's not just about the main character, each of the character has their own unique element that makes them interesting, I'd love to know more about Gary Bushwright, about Emmett and what happened earlier in his life, and Susan's unnatural quirks. 

Looking forward to reading more from you Mr. Moehling. 

Thank you NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for the ARC of this book. 
To be published: 14th June, 2022.
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4.5 stars
This had a bit of a slow start for me but once it got going I was HOOKED. This is a mostly detective POV thriller which is usually not something I gravitate towards, but I really liked the detective we were following and the small town vibes were perfect - it reminded me a lot of Karin Slaughter’s procedural series
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I really loved the cover.  First 25% of the book kept me involved in the plot, but as the story progresses I started losing interest.  I felt the story was dragging a bit.   There were some graphic moments/triggers that kind of remind me of true crime stories.  It is a edgy genre but may not be suitable for people who has trigger points.
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Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC of this book for honest review. This book started off strong but about a third of the way through it felt a little disjointed and honestly bored me. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters and I didn’t understand how some parts of the story made sense or they weren’t believable. For example, the detective talking about adopting a dog in the middle of an intense high profile investigation just didn’t make sense to me. This book was just not for me. Interesting concept but failed on delivery.
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Wow! I can’t believe that “And There He Kept Her” was a debut. I read this in about a day, couldn’t put it down. New to town, Sheriff’s Deputy Benjamin Packard is investigating the disappearance of a teen couple in the small lake town of Sandy Lake that triggers a deeply sinister series of events. What a well rounded and likable protagonist! I look forward to more of Joshua Moeling’s books.
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And There He Kept Her is the debut novel of Joshua Moehling. Ben Packard is the acting sheriff of a small town, dealing with normal everyday issues until two of the town's teenagers disappear. I really enjoyed Ben and some of the other town characters. I'm hoping that this is the start of a new series. I want to thank NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for an early copy to review.
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I really enjoyed this book!  It had kidnapping, murder, mystery, small town relationships, and a gay police detective/acting sherrif who is not quite out of the closet.  

A couple of teenagers sneak into a house to steal drugs, and encounter the homeowner who takes the law into his own hands. 

The story is not only about trying to find the missing teens, but it is about small town relationships.  And the acting sherrif has a family mystery as well as some growth to do about his sexuality -and small town politics.  And it all meshes really well.  

Emmett, the homeowner is revolting.   But the writer does such a good job that you feel horror, you feel repulsed, and yet at times you feel sympathy for him.  And I loved some of the townspeople.    There is a pair of feuding neighbors that reminds me of people I know and it made me laugh.  

I could 100% see this as a movie. 

Thank you to the author, the publisher and to #netgalley for the ARC which did not impact my review.   A solid 4- almost a 5, but it was missing that "wow" - that book hangover.
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Thank you for the ARC and privilege of reviewing it. 

Im afraid for me, this was a middle of the road book. Readable, but nothing special. It’s not a thriller. It’s not really handing you major twists and turns.  The title had tempted me but for me, it didn’t deliver.
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This book was just okay for me, the story line was okay but a little all over the place. The main character acting sherif packard was likeable enough and his determination to find Jenny and Jesse was good even when the rest do the town wasn’t really willing to help or believe anything had happen to them. I thought some times the story was crude when it didn’t have to be, it just didn’t have anything to do with the story line and made me cringe a little bit. Jenny’s character seemed to be lacking depth, I would of just like to see a little more out of her. Emmet was creepy but at the same time you half felt for him, and he really just wanted a companionship but went about it wrong away. I guess I just wished the story was better thought out, and not so much all over the place and focused more on the thriller part.
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I couldn’t put this book down. Reminiscent of Steve Hamilton’s Alex McKnight series, the author brought us with him to Sandy Lake, Minnesota with evocative descriptions of the seasons, landscape and small town citizenry. As Detective Ben Packard  searches for 2 missing teenagers, his professional journey coincides with a personal one which highlights the question most of us come to at some point in our lives, what do we need to make ourselves happy? As Ben resolves this case, the undercurrent of an older, highly personal, defining moment still runs strong and sets Ben and the rest of the Sandy Lakers up perfectly for another book in this series that I hope the author writes soon. Loved this book.
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Ok, I just finished giving my dog an extra long tummy rub.   That's the sort of thing you need to do after you go this deep into the evils of man which is what you will get with "And There He Kept Her"  This is a debut novel by Joshua Moehling and starts with a bang literally.   Two teenagers sneak into what they think is an old man's house to steal prescription meds when they get more then they bargained for as they walk right into a shotgun blast.  So begins a dark and disturbing journey as they go missing.  

The officer soon assigned to find them is acting sheriff Ben Packard.  He just moved to the small town of Sandy Lake running from his past as a officer in a big town.   As this small town police procedural takes place soon we learn much more about Ben and his past.    One of the strengths of this books is his character development.   It is handled so well as he is a take no crap kind of guy.   There is one scene where he is interrogating a young crying teenage girl which is almost lol funny.  

This book started SLOOOWWWW.   In fact after that WTF moment it's almost 50 pages until we find out what happened.  But this book soon finds it's pacing as it's expertly paced and written.   After that first hump it charges forward relentlessly and I finished it in a day.   Definitely some great Alfred Hitchcock scenes where we know what is going on but the characters don't and it's literally so suspenseful to read.    There is one part towards the end where I knew what was going to happen and even after it did I still jumped,   I think some of the negative reviews are from people giving up so early on the book.  

Some Cons:   Like mentioned above the characters of Ben Packard (And bad guy Emmet Burr) are expertly written and developed.   But as much as they are you can't say the same for the supporting characters.   There are several one dimensional characters.  Like I think Moehling was trying to make one of the female officers a likable badass but it didn't come across that way?   To be fair either Ben Packard or Emmet Burr are in every scene as it's told in third person POV from those two characters.   That and the slow start keep it from a perfect rating.  

All in all it's a great read although the subject matter is very disturbing and you will be shocked at some of the scenes.   But such a great read to have the book take off as the officers and citizens of Sand Lake try and find those two kids.   And also kudos for the non cliffhanger / cliffhanger.   Joshua Moehling literally spends the last two pages randomly setting up a sequel.   Just have a spouse or puppy to hug after reading this one.  

Book given free for honest review.
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“And There He Kept Her” is the start of a new series featuring Acting Sheriff Ben Packard, a gay cop from the Twin Cities in Minnesota who moves to Sandy Lake, a rural community in the far reaches of northern Minnesota, where he has gone to escape his grief after his secret boyfriend, Marcus died.  Packard spent the summers of his youth at a family cabin at Sandy Lake until his brother Nick disappeared without a trace, his fate still unknown almost two decades later.  

The novel starts with two teenagers, Jenny and her boyfriend Jesse, who are breaking into a house in the early hours of the morning for some unknown reason.  While searching through the basement, Jesse opens the door to a cement block room, where a single cot sits beneath a metal ring with chains attached.  It quickly becomes apparent that the two chose the wrong “victim” as the house’s resident, Emmett Burr, soon takes matters into his own hands.  Emmett kills Jesse and locks Jenny into the room with no clear plan as to how or when he will dispose of her.

Packard receives a call from his cousin Susan asking for his help in finding her missing daughter, Jenny.  As he investigates her disappearance, an interesting cast of quirky inhabitants are revealed. The book alternates between Packard’s investigation and Emmett’s interactions with his captive, Jenny.  

The novel is not a mystery in the traditional sense of the words, as the reader knows the current fate of the victims early on as well as the identity of the perpetrator.  The mystery is whether or not Jenny will be discovered before Emmett decides her fate.  This structure maintains a tension which keeps the reader invested in the story.  

But the real strengths of this book are the multi-faceted characters and a glimpse into the personal dynamics involved in small town rural living.  In particular, the main character, Ben Packard, is an intriguing personality who keeps his sexual preferences a secret and maintains an emotional distance between himself and his co-workers and his cousin. 

Moehling has a somewhat laconic writing style, which took awhile to get used to, but once I did, I came to appreciate the way he described characters and situations with a few well-chosen words.  As mentioned previously in this review, the book is the first in a series about Sandy Lake and Ben Packard. I look forward to reading the next installment.
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I devoured this book. I read it in almost a day. I enjoyed this greatly and I am so freaking thankful I got the opportunity to read this arc.
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