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Blood Red Summer

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Member Reviews

I received an advance copy of this book for NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. This is the 2nd installment in the Jess Keeler series but I did not read book 1. I think there is a bit of background knowledge gap for me in this regard but I still enjoyed this book. Jess is a podcaster who has a shot at making her storytelling to the TV screens. While on the hunt for a new crime story to dive into with her audience, she stumbles upon a long buried crime that happened there in her own town that she never knew about. As she navigates the truth, lies and the in between, Jess finds that things are not as they appear. Details of the story start to unwind years of secrets and connections to other crimes that same fateful summer.

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Blood Red Summer is the follow-up to Eryk Pruitt’s first novel in the Jess Keeler series, Something Bad Wrong, featuring journalist/podcaster Keeler and her investigation into unsolved crime cases. Specific aspects of the plotlines will be purposely vague to avoid spoilers and to allow plot points to be revealed as the novel is read.

In Blood Red Summer, Keeler is still investigating unsolved murders, but this time, her next venture will include a small filming and researching crew for a documentary rather than a Podcast. The novel includes previously introduced characters, with writing and storytelling that surpasses the original novel in both flow and plot.

The novel picks up a short time after the conclusion of the first novel as the reader learns Keeler’s first podcast has become very popular and has led her to search for her next unsolved true-crime case. Keeler’s smal crew is being funded by two Germans. If she and her crew can find a suitable event, then the Germans will fund the entire documentary and promotion of the finished film.

After stopping in at a favored watering hole, Keeler is approached by a man who persuades her to look into a serial sniper case from the 1980s where his nephew confessed to killing numerous people, including a perceived gadfly reporter for a local tabloid newspaper.

The shootings occurred in 1984 in a Lake Castor, VA Black section of town known as the Back Back and ended with the confession of a Black man named Rickie Lee Patience. For his confession, Patience was sentenced to life in prison.

The more Jess investigates, the more skeptical she becomes regarding the confession. While gathering new information, she and her crew receive more and more resistance from almost all those present during this era. These people range from authorities, citizens, and witnesses and even include her close friend, retired sheriff Ennis Worthy. Worthy, like others, keeps urging it is best for everyone to just let the past lie. All of which only makes her resolve to get to the truth even firmer.

The novel then continues while Jess continues to struggle to unravel the truth from a time most just want to forget under declarations it is best for all involved.

Like so many other crime or mystery novels, to avoid spoilers often the less known one knows about plots, the better, and Blood Red Summer is one of those novels and other readers are encouraged to avoid the more detailed reviews.

Pruitt’s plot lines are complex, fluid, and with unsuspecting twists along the way. His characters are believably well-defined, with the flow of his writing remarkably fluid and flawless.

Blood Red Summer his highly recommended to crime genre readers and especially those fond of rural or country noir.

Netgalley provided an ARC for the return of a fair review and is available for purchase.

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I will preface that i had not read book #1 of the Keeler series, but i felt like I was able to follow along well enough. I really enjoyed this thriller! I enjoyed the reading topic of racial profiling and unjust police force as it just so prevalent in today's society. This still happens to this day. I would recommend this book.

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Many thanks to NetGalley and Thomas and Mercer for this eARC.
Jess Keeler, first introduced in Pruitt’s Something Bad Wrong as a novice podcaster, returns for a follow-up, an examination of how the true rime documentary is big bucks, loyalty to the badge works side by side with systemic police corruption and racial profiling and yet another marrying of the past with the present in her journey to find the truth.
While Jess is working hard to get the “story” of a black man who may or may not have been railroaded into a prison sentence for a shooting spree within the black community, she is directed to another unsolved murder scene from that same time forty years earlier involving old time bootleggers and an increasingly violent motorcycle gang subculture, and soon finds a connection. While attempting to unravel this and then piece it back together, she is maneuvering thru taking care of a parent with Alzheimer’s and the murky waters of true crime documentary and its sensationalism.
This story flowed easier than the first book in this series. The characters had developed a bit and I felt that the dialogue was more genuine. I really enjoyed this book and I really think that Pruitt really invokes the small Southern town noir well.
Highly recommend.

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"Blood Red Summer" is the perfect follow-up to Pruitt's first in the series and truly builds on the great characters and world from SOMETHING BAD WRONG. I loved the slow burn that the alternating POVs brought into the mix and ended up reading for hours longer than planned after some serious cliff hangers. This is a must read for anybody who loves southern fiction or mysteries in general.

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A true-crime podcaster is asked by a prisoner’s family to investigate a possible miscarriage of justice. When a shooter went on the rampage in a rundown community and killed five black people over the course of a summer, police weren’t overly concerned. When the sixth victim was a white journalist, they arrested the first young black man who fitted the profile. Although it’s a modern-day story featuring a podcaster and a TV documentary crew, the flashbacks to 1984 have a hardboiled edge to them. This socially aware story might also appeal to fans of traditional American noir.
With thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an early copy in exchange for an independent review.

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A tale of justice delayed but not denied, Blood Red Summer elicits a bevy of emotions from heartbreak to inspiration, outrage to compassion, and frustration to satisfaction. Eryk Pruitt superbly crafts another fascinating novel featuring a relentless true crime protagonist.

After the success of her debut true crime podcast, Jess Keeler is now investigating the 1984 Lake Castor sniper case as a possible topic for a new documentary series. The sniper killed five people in the historically Black part of town with barely any attention from the police and hardly a mention in the local news. However, when a white journalist was killed in similar fashion, the wheels of justice spun quickly with a quick arrest and confession. But did this individual really do it? As Jess follows the evidence and looks for connections to another gruesome murder of three bootleggers, she will once again put herself in grave danger to uncover the truth. A truth many would prefer to stay dead and buried.

Blood Red Summer ambitiously and successfully tells a story spanning two timelines 40 years apart that tackles complex and challenging issues relevant to both eras. Racism, corruption, gang violence, the changing media landscape and impact on journalistic integrity all feature prominently. And by jumping back and forth between past and present, slowly dripping clues and critical information along the way, it cranks up the suspense to high levels before landing a crushing blow when the truth is finally revealed. All the while readers will be theorizing on what happened, who knew about it and how it impacted the communities on the different sides of the racial divide. Making it an engaging and thought-provoking reading experience. Another compelling and entertaining thriller from the pen of Eryk Pruitt.

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Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.

Blood Red Summer is a sequel and sees the return of true crime podcaster Jess Keeler as she investigates of the events of the summer of 1984 in Lake Castor, Virginia. A great thriller

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A few weeks ago, I scored an ARC (Advance Review Copy) of Blood Red Summer, the forthcoming Jess Keeler novel from Eryk Pruitt. I had very much enjoyed Something Bad Wrong, the first novel about true crime podcaster-turned-amateur-sleuth Keeler, and was glad to get a look at this one. The story begins with Keeler having a shot at moving from podcasting to major media, as a German production company is interested in using her as a host. This time, the story she pursues involves a 1984 series of sniper shootings in a nearby town's black neighborhood. While a mentally ill man confessed to the shootings and is imprisoned accordingly, Keeler's investigation and instincts lead her to doubt the official story. At the same time, a multiple slaying from the same period resurfaces, and it turns out that the sniper's final victim was a reporter investigating the mass killing. Unsurprisingly, the threads of the two cases intertwine.

Over the course of the novel, Pruitt handles multiple viewpoint characters and timelines gracefully, without ever losing momentum. In fact, the stories actually gain momentum as the book moves along. If I have any complaints, I would have liked to see more of Jess's family and personal life, but that's what sequels in a series are for, I guess.

In any case, Blood Red Summer is an entertaining read, and should make a lot of folks happy when it comes out on May 24. Check it out!

Warren Moore

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I really enjoyed this book! I did not initially know this was a sequel, but I do not think that impacted my overall enjoyment of the story. I enjoyed the way the author used dual timelines to tell the story, and how those timelines converged by the end. Overall, I think this is a very solid thriller and I would definitely recommend it! (long form review can be found in the links below)

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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

What a great novel. The storylines are fantastic, the characters are believable, and the twists are perfect.

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The story is struggling to overcome its flaws, which include an overly complex narrative, an excess of viewpoints, and a lackluster portrayal of Jess Keeler, despite its potential. It's loosely written and unrefined for a criminal thriller. Although it's an ambitious try, it's not as thrilling to read as it is mediocre.

2.75 stars rounded up

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This was a strong thriller novel, it had everything that I was hoping for from the description. The characters felt like they belonged in this world and I was so invested in what was going on. It had everything that I hoped for in a thriller novel and hope to read more from Eryk Pruitt.

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"Blood Red Summer" by Eryk Pruitt, the second installment in the Jess Keeler Thrillers series, takes readers on a moody and gripping journey through a former mill town's dark past. True crime podcaster Jess Keeler, hot on the heels of her successful debut, embarks on a new investigation with a documentary crew in tow, delving into the haunting events of the summer of 1984 in Lake Castor, Virginia.

The story unfolds as Jess encounters a handsome stranger with a compelling tale of wrongful conviction related to the Lake Castor sniper, who terrorized the historically Black part of the town, claiming five lives. As Jess investigates, she uncovers a web of motorcycle gangs, police corruption, and racism that marked the summer of '84. The narrative weaves dual timelines and three voices—Jess in the present, journalist Hal Broadstreet, and deputy Ennis Worthy in 1984.

Pruitt skillfully captures the atmospheric tension of a small town grappling with unsolved mysteries, police misconduct, and racial tensions. Jess's internal struggles, the complexities of her family life, and her determination to uncover the truth add depth to the narrative. The storytelling alternates between Jess's contemporary investigation and the accounts of Hal and Ennis during the blood-soaked summer of '84.

The plot is driven by layers of corruption, false confessions, and a relentless quest for justice. The dual timelines offer a nuanced perspective on the events, with Hal's on-the-ground reporting providing a particularly fascinating insight into the era.

As the TV crew's plans clash with Jess's vision for the podcast, Pruitt explores the delicate balance between storytelling, journalistic ethics, and the pursuit of justice. The interconnected tales of the sniper and the bootlegger massacre create a compelling narrative that keeps readers engaged until the final revelation.

"Blood Red Summer" stands out as a powerful and unforgettable Southern Noir thriller. Eryk Pruitt's storytelling prowess shines through as he seamlessly blends mystery, true crime, and social commentary, making this a must-read for fans of the genre. The novel is a testament to Pruitt's ability to craft intricate narratives that leave a lasting impact on readers.

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Second in the Jess Keeler Thrillers series, this moody installment follows the podcaster’s investigation of one brutal, bloody summer in a former mill town and the shocking truths brought to light.

This was really good. I didn't know what to expect going into it, but I was pleasantly surprised. A well-written mystery with interesting characters and plot twists.

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In the sequel to Something Bad Wrong, true crime podcaster Jess Keeler learns what can go wrong when you lose control of everything, the story you want to tell, and even your family life. Blood Red Summer is the story of the events of the summer of 1984 in Lake Castor, Virginia. It’s a story of motorcycle gangs, police corruption, and racism, and several people who tried to tell the truth.

After the success of her podcast, “Something Bad Wrong”, a TV crew is eager to work with Jess Keeler to tell her next true crime story. But, Jess is used to doing her own research, and finding her own story, and the team’s plans make her uneasy. They start out to tell the story of a sniper who targeted the Black community in 1984 because Ricky Lee Patience’s family says he’s been falsely incarcerated for forty years for the five deaths. But, while Jess is eager to free Ricky Lee, the show’s producer wants to focus on him as a killer who pleaded guilty.

That story is sidetracked when two former sheriffs won’t cooperate, but they do want to tell the story of the massacre of a bootlegger and two other men that same summer. Jess learns she’s following in the footsteps of Hal Broadstreet, a journalist who covered both stories in 1984. But, Hal, who considered himself closer to the criminals than the cops, took an unusual direction in the stories that appeared in a newspaper that was already on its last legs.

Blood Red Summer is told in dual timelines, and three voices. Jess gets to tell her story as she researches the cold cases, but Hal Broadstreet and a deputy, Ennis Worthy, relate their accounts of that bloody summer of 1984. To be honest, it was Hal’s account, on the streets and at the time, that I found most interesting. But, the final results of the podcast and Jess’ story won’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone who reads Southern Noir. It’s a powerful, unforgettable story.

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Starred Review:

Jess Keeler returns this time with a film crew hoping to continue her success in finding a true crime for a streamer to buy. The crew doesn’t see eye to eye on multiple possibilities and again Jess is left on her own to seek the truth.

Pruitt is a master at multiple story lines and connecting all the dots. Into a true suspense novel. Very gifted. Great sophomore novel with Jess back.

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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this eARC.

Wonderful police procedural, a crime tale that spans decades, with justice elusive and buried beneath layer of racism, the brutality of biker gangs and vigilantism.

This novel has something for everyone, as a amateur true crime investigator (podcasts, etc.) innocently and painstakingly begins to peel back the years of lies, coverups, regret, fear and trauma that have grown over the unalterable truth of a series of murders in the "back back".

A five-star mystery that will appeal to a wide range of fans, ranging from those who enjoy modern novels (such as Elle Marr releases) to those who enjoy a more classic detective mystery where the solid slow burning flame of the truth is finally unveiled.

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After reading Something Bad Wrong I knew I had to dive into Blood Red Summer by Eryk Pruitt.
Book two in the Jess Keeler Series was just as great as the first.
A well crafted book with some interesting characters and scenes that really kept my attention and interest.
The writing is wonderfully descriptive and the character descriptions were so realistic.
Suspenseful and finely crafted its well written, thrilling and impossible to put down.
The well-developed characters, fast-paced plot, and the exploration of complex themes make it a book that's insanely entertaining.

Thank You NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing eARC!

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Blood Red Summer by E. Pruitt, published by Thomas & Mercer is the second stand alone in the Jess Keeler Series.
For best reading experience I recommend to read the books in order. The previous book is Something Bad Wrong.
Reading this second book was an absolute delight.
Jess is in for another wild ride. The true crime podcaster of Something Bad Wrong gets accosted and asked to investigate the case of Ricky Lee, being in prison for murdering 5 people many years ago.
She's intrigued and together with an old friend she' stirring up old ghosts and trouble too.
Welcome back to Lake Castor where everything started and where she's about to stirr a hornets nest.
A complex, complicated read with a great storyline and fantastic characters.

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