Cover Image: The Sweet Goodbye

The Sweet Goodbye

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Member Reviews

I posted the below 3.5-star review to Hillbilly Highways, Amazon, and Goodreads on 5/4/22:

The mountains of North Carolina are my favorite country noir setting for the simple reason that they are home, and there is a rich tradition of country noir set in the Ozarks that we can probably credit to Daniel Woodrell, but it is always nice to get the chance to visit someplace new via fiction.  The Sweet Goodbye is set in the North Maine Woods in the vast, empty, northernmost reaches of the contiguous states.

“I tend to work in places past their best-before dates—mill towns that no longer have a mill; fishing ports where the fish are remembered like mythical beasts; town sand cities where the workforce is unemployed, working recall hours, or gone.  People having their financial security threatened is what a lot of crime depends upon.  From what I’ve seen, it might even be the straw that stirs the drink.”

Danny Barrett works undercover for the FBI.  He is on his current case for two reasons: he is very good at what he does, and he grew up around timber in northern Michigan.  The latter is vital to passing as a tree marker.  The investigation is focused on a local timber company that has way too much cash.  Not much money in timber anymore.  Not much money in anything legal in rural Maine anymore.  The investigation immediately goes bad when a cooperating banker is murdered.  It takes him into the orbit of the lush, co-owner of the timber company, Travis Lee, Lee’s girlfriend Pearl Lafontaine, and Pearl’s kin Beau, who is operating a smuggling and drug empire nestled up against the border with Canada.

I saw something that billed The Sweet Goodbye as something of a romance.  And it is, of a sort.  Romance is one literary tool seldom used in country noir.  The way the story gets set up early on reminded me a lot of The Tilted World.  But Corbett goes in a different direction with the story.  What he does isn’t unappreciated, but my basic gripe with the book is that the way things play out Barrett is mostly just an observer.  Watching a character lacking agency watch the story happen doesn’t tend to make for compelling storytelling.  (This is probably a more realistic than usual depiction of undercover work, but realism is only valuable to the extend it enhances the story.)

Disclosure: I received an advance copy of The Sweet Goodbye from the publisher.
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It’s been a minute since I’ve read a thriller mystery, and I enjoyed this break from my typical reads! It wasn’t too thrilling that it kept me up at night, and I enjoyed trying to figure out many of the character’s connections.

In the Sweet Goodbye by Ron Corbett, a first in the Danny Barrett series, the FBI is closing in on Beau LaFontaine, Travis and Tucker Lee- the owners of a small-town Maine lumber company. 

The story is told from multiple points of view, lots of cat and mouse events, as the story comes full circle and we learn more about Beau’s cousin Pearl, her background and how she connects to all three men.

For much of the story I sat perplexed on why it was titled as such…it’s a thing I do (find the connection to the title in a novel), and I will admit I was frustrated it took me so long to find it/figure it out…alas, it is there. :D 

If you enjoy mysterious, FBI thrillers (without a lot of scary thrills!), familial connections, poor decisions, aftermath and repercussions, then grab this one and let me know what you think.
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I thought the setting for this was perfect! The descriptions are vivid and detailed. This book somewhat played out like a movie and kept me turning the pages. Corbett does a nice job with the narrative and this one flowed smoothly. I am looking forward to the next one!
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The Sweet Goodbye by Ron Corbett felt like something straight out of a 40s or 50s detective show to me, and it probably helped that the main narrator of the audiobook Adam Gold had a voice that totally made it that way. The book actually has a reference to Perry Mason in it, and I was thinking about someone in my head as I read it, but now that I sat down to write my review, I can't think of who it is. I also never caught what time period this is set in, but it felt very old school to me from the phrases used all the way to how the characters spoke. There was a slower pace overall, but the story was layered, and it turned out a way I hadn't expected it to. It was also super interesting having it set in the North Maine Woods (a brilliant setting) and all the talk about trees and what a tree marker does which is a profession I was not familiar with.

As mentioned, Adam Gold is one narrator for the audiobook but there is also a smaller role which is read by Catherine Ho. The majority of the novel is told from Danny's viewpoint but every so often there will be a chapter titled "The Sweet Goodbye" which is told from the POV of Pearl, who is the mistress of one of the characters in the book. I really liked the tone the narrators set for the story, and I enjoyed Ho's parts the most, but I did find Gold's narration to be stilted and jerky sounding for lack of a better term. I wish it would have flowed better because he really did have the perfect voice for the story, but alas, I don't think I would listen to the next book if he is the one who narrates it. That being said, I am definitely still interested in reading the next book in Danny's story and I think fans of old school detective shows will find The Sweet Goodbye appealing. I did tend to get a little lost in the story, but I still enjoyed it and was able to grasp the overall concept.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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The setting for this book is perfect, set in the dark woods of northern Maine. Danny Barrett, a determined FBI agent is an enigma as the protagonist. He wants justice no matter the cost, but he is also wounded from his past and is almost creepy in the way he goes about his assignment. His task in this first book in the series is to bring down the Lee Forestry owners, Travis and Tucker and their mob boss Beau LaFontaine. The money coming from the woods has to be more than just trees and Danny follows the leads and finds a trail of drugs and murder. This book is not for the faint-hearted and honestly, at times, it was not for me. It is hard-boiled, rough at the edges crime fiction with few redemptive qualities. I’m not sure I can say I really enjoyed the book because the plot meandered at times and I got lost in the details. The pace was slow, even though I kept expecting it to pick up because Danny was getting close to finding out the truth, but it never really did. I would have to call the pace one that plodded on inexorably to the ending. The book is filled with an intricate web of lies and a truckload of corruption that Danny has to sift through and he brings the reader along on this trip. The book is an okay read for those who like a lot of violence and expletives, but it was really not my cup of tea. I kept picturing a hard-nosed Dick Tracy who would stop at nothing to get the bad guy. This cat and mouse game of good versus evil did not hold my attention well and I was glad to get to the end.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Berkeley via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”
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I love crime dramas/thrillers, even more so when I get a series so I can get invested in the characters and their cases. It's kind of like visiting a friend every now and then. The Sweet Goodbye introduces undercover FBI agent Danny Barrett. Danny is certainly not a by the book man, but he does have a good sense of right and wrong - his idea of the line between the two may not jive with his fellow agents, and he may cross that line from time to time, but he has a sense of honor.
Ron Corbett knows how to paint a picture and draw you into the setting. His descriptions are vivid and detailed. That part kind of goes both ways for me. There's a line between just enough and too much, and I feel like Corbett crosses it a little too often. I found my mind wandering at times when some descriptions went on a little too long when what I wanted was more of Danny. I really enjoyed Danny's point of view. There's almost a melancholy feeling at times, and I liked him, flaws and all.
This first book in Corbett's Danny Barrett series turned out to be more crime drama than thriller, but it held my interest and I look forward to seeing what's next for Danny Barrett.
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Talk about a book that plays out like a movie in your head! I could picture just about every scene. Very much a show, not tell type of book. Great mystery about an undercover agent! Definitely won't be my last book by this author!
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I really enjoyed this one! I'll be honest - l was not expecting to... I was contacted by the publisher about it and asked if I was interested in running a review or spotlight on my blog. I agreed and downloaded it on a whim. While I enjoy detective stories and mysteries quite a bit, the underlying nature of this specific undercover job (involving forestry, rural Maine and a drug ring) didn't really appeal but I gave it a go anyway. I'm so glad I did because I thoroughly enjoyed the writing and am already looking forward to seeing where Danny Barrett (or whomever he'll be next time around) finds himself in future installments. The teasers in the form of the casual references to Seattle caught my imagination already. The construct of an expert undercover agent who travels the country infiltrating and uncovering crime is a great one and offers Corbett a panoply of options and settings and that, paired with strong plotting skills and a compelling protagonist, suggests a recipe for success that I look forward to following.
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I have mixed feelings about The Sweet Goodbye, which is the first book in the new Danny Barrett series.

Barrett’s character is interesting. He’s a little dark and brooding, a little edgy, a little dangerous. But he also has that inner nice guy thing going on. I enjoyed spending time with him.

The setting is well done, placing us in dense Maine woods that manage to be both claustrophobic and expansive.

The plot felt scattered to me, especially early on.  It took me a while to settle into the story.

Pacing is slow. While this is being marketed as a thriller series, it reads more like police procedural/crime fiction.

Overall, The Sweet Goodbye was a good but largely forgettable read for me.
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Are you an outdoorsy person? Do like hanging out deep in the forest? The Sweet Goodbye by Ron Corbett takes place in the rugged wilderness of Northern Maine.

"Danny Barrett works undercover for the FBI. He is in northern Maine because a logging company has unexplained millions in their bank accounts - and the last undercover agent was found hanged and shot."

Danny Barrett is an interesting character. He's more than just a tree marker and undercover agent. He askes questions about motive and history. And seems to have a little morally gray to him. "I need to arrest you but I respect you" Pearl is another character that will surprise you a lot. This book is more about the characters than the crime.

Corbett does a nice job with the narrative. It would have been easy to fill it full of cliches (only saw a couple) and caricatures of characters. But he writes a fast-paced story.

There's a scary bad guy - one I'd really like to see with his own book. 

A surprise ending that Corbett leaves a little open. Things are resolved but specifics are implied. 

Fans of C.J. Box  should enjoy this new novel from Corbett.
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3.5 Many Questions Stars
* * * 1/2 Spoiler Free
Ron Corbett asks a couple of questions that will make you wonder. When the FBI see a Maine Logging company that has an unusually high amount of money unaccounted for "just hanging out there", they decide to send in an undercover agent to figure out what is happening. When he is murdered the agency turns to Danny Barrett.

Danny Barrett's talents are what make him an amazing undercover agent. They also make him question his understanding and use of them. Lying for him is his secret power, bending rules to make ends meet, is easy for him, should they be...maybe they shouldn't, but in his world...getting the bad guys is all that truly matters. Ask his brother doing time in prison. 

We have a tale that weaves so much, the present, the past, family connections, and characters that have so many hidden agendas. A new series for the author and looking forward to more.
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The Sweet Goodbye by Ron Corbett is the beginning of a new series featuring FBI undercover agent Danny Barrett.  Danny is sent to Northern Maine to infiltrate/ investigate a small family run lumber company with an extremely large cash flow. This was my first time reading Ron Corbett and I’ll definitely be looking forward to the next in this series.
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This book is a great start to a new series! Danny Barrett is an amazing undercover agent. His newest assignment takes him into Maine and the logging business. A family run logging business is doing some hinky things so Danny is sent to figure things out. I enjoyed the characters and the twists and turns. I am looking forward to many more books in this series! I received an advanced readers copy and all opinions are my own.
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Rob Corbett's The Sweet Goodbye is an interesting start to a new thriller series, but unfortunately, in this reviewers opinion didn't really move beyond that. The thriller subgenre of rural-set thrillers is an increasingly crowded one and Corbett's latest just didn't stand out much. 

The first book in Corbett's new Danny Barrett series is a familar setting: Something illegal is crossing the border between Canada and the US and the FBI sent someone to take care of it and it didn't work. Now they are sending Danny, who has his own demons, specifically that he sent his own brother to prison. These are tried and true thriller elements but that's the problem. Most thriller writers have probably already seen these same elements in other series (notes of David Baldacci, William Kent Kreuger, and Lee Child were some of the elements that stood out to me) and they were done in much more noteworthy ways. 

There were some elements I really liked. I can definitely see myself spending another few evenings with future Danny Barrett books. He's an interesting character with just enough edges to him to make me feel that he has some great adventures ahead of him. I also really do like Corbett's writing especially the many scenes set in Maine. Maine is the focus of some really great writers (Stephen King and John Connolly come to mind) but Corbett held his own in his depictions of it and I look forward to seeing where Barrett's next book takes him. 

I think this book is an interesting new thriller by a newer writer. Just because this book didn't wow me doesn't mean that future installments won't. I kept thinking of Nick Petrie and his Peter Ash series as I read this book and I remember not being necessarily wowed by Petrie's The Drifter on first read either and now that series is one of my annual pre-orders. I think the same could be some day said for Corbett and the Danny Barrett series.
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The Sweet Goodbye by Ron Corbett

When Danny Barrett is told what a great undercover agent he is, he's not sure he should consider it a compliment. He's good because he's good at lying, deceiving, blending with lowlife so well that he becomes one of them. He's good because he doesn't care who he arrests. He arrested his own brother and never felt a day of guilt about it. Now the FBI's best undercover man has been murdered and the FBI wants Barrett to take his place. 

Lee Forestry Products and the two brothers who own it, Tucker and Travis, are involved in some very dirty business. Beau Lafontaine is the monster that has them under his thumb now. His sister and Travis go way back and Beau saved Lee Forestry Products from going under. Now the Lee's will owe him big time for the rest of their lives. But the FBI is on to this dirty dealing triangle and are gunning for Lafontaine and they plan to get him by going through the Lees. 

Barrett is all business and he knows the logging business having been taught by his grandfather so he's perfect for this undercover job. He's undercover as a tree marker but he also worms his way into a drinking friendship with Travis. The job's a little harder when he realizes that he likes Travis. But this is life and death and people have already died and Barrett doesn't let feelings get in the way of doing his job. 

It's a cat and lots of big mice game as the FBI is hampered in their goal of bringing the Lee's and Lafontaine down so Barrett does things his way, doesn't follow an order, meets up with folks he shouldn't be meeting up with. We get to know a few players pretty well, Travis, and Beau's cousin who is Travis's mistress. It's a tangled web of deceit and corruption that goes way back and I was caught of in a story that I didn't often understand. I look forward to Barrett's next case which will take place in Seattle. 

Thank you to Elisha at Berkley and NetGalley for this ARC.
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THE SWEET GOODBYE was an entertaining beginning to a new series. Danny Barrett has been an undercover agent for twelve years and successful. But his new case, which takes him to a dying town in Maine and the deep, uncharted Maine woods, is going to test him in many ways.

Lee Forestry Products has too much money on its books - what accountants call "funds without provenance" - which makes the FBI think something illegal is going on. The first undercover agent they sent to investigate was found murdered. 

Now, it's Danny time to try to find out what is going on. He was a Detroit cop but grew up in the forestry business in Upper Michigan. His cover as a tree marker gives him a chance to investigate. 

As Danny gets to know the players - the two Lee brothers who own the business, Beau Lafontaine who has a reputation in the Maine woods, and Pearl Lafontaine who's a diner waitress, cousin of Beau, and Travis Lee's long-time lover - he gets tangled up in a twisted situation.

The story is part mystery, part twisted romance, and all-around compelling read. The story is told from multiple viewpoints and sometimes in flashbacks. I enjoyed the story very much and look forward to more in the series.
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At first I was a bit confused but the more I read the more I began to understand what was going on. Kind of slow at least it felt that way to me but I still enjoyed reading  it, I loved how the author used the woods as part of the setting,  and how he told the story
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This book met my expectations and more! Set in rural Maine, I could picture every scene in my head thanks to the  gritty descriptions of towns, forests, characters, and their interactions. I loved every minute of it as it unfolded and we went deeper and deeper into the story. It's one of those books that you don't want to finish because you're enjoying it so much. I absolutely loved the characters and hope to meet them again. Great writing, great plot, and real pleasure to read.
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The Sweet Goodbye is a wonderfully well-written and engaging story emphasizing the capability of humans to cross all sorts of moral lines for love.  Ron Corbett impresses and dazzles with a grounded crime thriller that leaves a lasting impression.
Danny Barrett is an undercover cop sent to North Maine Woods to investigate and uncover a small family-run lumber company dabbling in illegal activities with a high payday. As soon as Barrett steps foot in the town, bodies start piling up and leads start getting buried. Danny Barrett must work quickly to expose the culprits in a crooked family while preserving his cover before he is exposed.
Ron Corbett creates a captivating whodunnit narrative where you can’t be too sure who is the real mastermind. Clues point to one explanation while the truth is a lot less straightforward. There is a hint of danger emanating through the pages almost immediately from the beginning, with Corbett’s masterful descriptions of tense moods and characters that feel quite real and lend credence to the plausibility of the events in the story. Danny Barrett is a mix of brains and brawns with a fascinating offset in his characterization; he excels at undercover work because he finds it easy to deceive and betray, adding a psychological angle to his foundation that makes him all the more interesting to read as the events considerably shake him up.
The Sweet Goodbye is an excellent pick for readers who like their thrillers with a sprinkle of unpredictable drama and a lot of suspense with captivating heroes and villains at the heart of the story.

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