Home Fires

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Pub Date Apr 02 2024 | Archive Date Mar 31 2024

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Fans of Steven F. Havill's Posadas County and Lisa Regan's Josie Quinn series will enjoy this fascinating and complex story set in small-town Missouri.

"An outstanding police procedural that plunges readers into a community’s nightmare. Readers of Steven F. Havill and Bill Crider will appreciate the novel’s focus on small-town life and a local police force" Library Journal Starred Review

Branson Sheriff Hank Worth is one of the first on the scene of a mass casualty incident - a local fireworks warehouse has exploded, killing everyone inside. As over a dozen victims are pulled from the smoldering ruins, the painstaking identification process begins.

Chief Deputy Sheila Turley returns early from medical leave to assist in the office, while Hank delves deeper into the increasingly complicated situation at the morgue. He discovers that the previous forensic pathologist was hasty at best and negligent at worst. What starts as an offhand request to look into the errors turns into a discovery that shakes Hank's world off its axis . . .

With Hank secretly investigating his discovery at the morgue, his short-handed team is stretched to the brink as it investigates the cause of the explosion. Then a shocking revelation leaves Sheila and her fellow deputies scrambling for answers to an unexpected crime. Just what happened in the warehouse in the moments before the blast? Can they unravel the mysteries in time to save Branson from yet more heartbreak? And can Hank, adrift and alone, figure out what happened before it destroys everything he holds dear?

Fans of Steven F. Havill's Posadas County and Lisa Regan's Josie Quinn series will enjoy this fascinating and complex story set in small-town Missouri.

"An outstanding police procedural that plunges...

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Average rating from 16 members

Featured Reviews

Claire Booth’s sixth Sheriff Hank Worth mystery, Home Fires, is the best in the series, combining police procedural in a small community and a cold case. But, it’s the teamwork and humanity that stands out. Booth’s book does not resemble the mysteries by Bill Crider, Steven F. Havill or Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. But, they do share elements as each series involves a police department that works closely together, and focuses on individuals at times, not just the main character.

Hank’s second-in-command at the Branson County, Missouri, sheriff’s department, Sheila Turley, is out on medical leave, so he’s stuck representing the department at the funeral of the local medical examiner. Most of the funeral is over when Worth’s phone goes off, along with the phones of every other police chief and sheriff in attendance. They all speed to the scene where a fireworks warehouse has gone up in flames. It’s not difficult to guess that everyone inside has died. It will be several days before the fire department can get inside to examine the scene and bring out remains.

While Hank and his team cope with grieving families and the media, mutterings about a bomb and terrorism, Sheila Turley is stuck at home, frustrated at her isolation. The determined woman coerces off-duty deputies into assisting her so she can monitor the scene and assist the investigation by computer and phone calls.

It’s one of those phone calls that turns Hank’s world upside-down. The University of Missouri sends pathologists, interns and residents to Branson to assist with the identification of dead bodies at the fireworks factory. One of those residents uncovers the sloppy work of the recently deceased medical examiner. And, one of the cases he neglected hits close to home for Hank, who follows up on that crime instead of dealing with the warehouse. It’s Sheila and a young deputy who put their time and energy into that case, frustrated when Hank disappears from their scene.

Claire Booth’s excellent police procedural involves small town life and shared grief. It plunges the reader right into a community nightmare, tragic deaths, unidentified remains, and a search for answers. Home Fires, with its focus on several investigations and several people, is the best in the series.

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4 stars

It’s a quiet day in Branson County until a violent blast occurs. The fireworks business exploded and created a conflagration that lasted for days. Sheriff Hank Worth was one of the first responders to arrive. The owner’s wife miraculously survived, she was not at the business, but seems reluctant to offer information.

Other investigative agencies arrive, including the ATF. The woman from the ATF is stern and not willing to listen to any delays. Her interrogation technique is downright scary.

The county pathologist has recently died, so someone from another county arrives to perform the autopsies in the deceased. It is also discovered that there were more victims than just the employees. It is another puzzle to solve.

The temporary pathologist begins to notice that the previous one was either incompetent or just plain careless or sloppy. One of the botched autopsies was performed on one of Hank's family members. This throws him into a tailspin. He is compelled to solve that mystery as well as the explosion.

There is much going on in this novel. Hank’s second-in-command Sheila is still recovering from severe injuries. She can barely move, but is stubborn and determined to work the explosion case.

The writing and plotting in this novel is excellent. The timing is great. I really liked the characters and the way the team got along with one another. I will certainly read another of Ms. Booth’s books.

I want to thank NetGalley and Severn House for forwarding to me a copy of this very good book for me to read, enjoy and review. The opinions expressed in this review are solely my own.

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A gripping and twisty crime thriller, action packed and fast paced. I thoroughly enjoyed it and appreciated the setting, the well rounded characters, and the solid mystery,
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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Home Fires by Claire Booth is the first book I have read both in this series and from this author. I was lured into it by people saying that if you like the Posadas County series you ought to like this and they are right. I still think that I prefer the books by Steven F. Havill but I will definitely read more in this series. I always like to read from the beginning and after reading about what happens with Hank Worth and his small town community in Missouri I wonder what happened since he and his wife moved there 2 years ago. It's a well written story and if you like me like small town mysteries and well plotted police procedurals this is something you should try. I must thank Severn House and Netgalley for letting me read this great book.

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As Home Fires: A Sheriff Hank Worth Mystery begins, Sheriff Hank Worth is sitting in church. He is attending the funeral of Dr. Michael Whittaker who very recently died as a result of a massive stroke. He had been in charge of the local morgue and was a rather odd person. Still local law enforcement for miles around is in attendance as that is what you do when somebody who spent four decades doing the work that often helped close cases.

That is until Hank’s and a lot of other cellphones, start going off with the news of an unspeakable tragedy.

Thirty-five miles outside of Springfield, sat one of Branson county’s biggest employers. The place made fireworks. Now it is a blazing crater of flames and smoke as at least some of the inventory exploded. At least a dozen folks worked there and the devastation clearly means nobody could have survived.

At least one of the owners was not there and has survived. Maybe Worth and the other investigators can get some answers from her. Maybe not as she is devasted and as the hours pass, not much help. Is she traumatized or hiding secrets?

Sheriff Worth isn’t much help either because he is soon distracted by another case. One that threatens to blow up his own life and family. A situation that can’t be discussed in this review without creating one heck of a spoiler.

This is the sixth book in a great series. Not only is it a great read, it also references earlier events. That serves as a reminder to read the series in order, starting from the beginning book, The Branson Beauty. If you are caught up, know that Home Fires: A Sheriff Hank Worth Mystery is a mighty good one and very much worth your time.

Amazon Associates Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3OO8b1N

My reading copy was a digital ARC from Severn House through NetGalley.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2024

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The sixth Sheriff Hank Worth book starts with a bang when he & other officials are called into a mass casualty incident at a local fireworks warehouse. The horrific task of identifying the dozen victims has only begun. His team is short-handed but Chief Deputy Sheila pig-headedly defies medical advice & assists in the investigation. Then Hank is delivered another bombshell about sloppy work by the recently deceased forensic pathologist Dr Whittaker. A tragic heart attack 2 years earlier is now looking like a homicide & this shocking news shakes Hank to the core.

While Hank is secretly investigating this death, his team discovers another victim in the warehouse, shot dead. Who was this person & were they responsible for the deadly blast?

This was another solid entry in the Hank Worth mystery series.

I received a digital ARC from Netgalley & Severn House. All opinions are my own.

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The warehouse explosion is jus the tip of the iceberg in this attention grabbing new mystery featuring Sheriff Hank Worth and his deputies Sheila Turley and Sam Karnes.

Efforts to identify the victims of the explosion uncover some questionable practices at the county morgue by the recently deceased medical examiner. Further investigation leads to the re-opening of some old cases, one of which hits close to home for Hank.

A funeral is an inauspicious way to start a story, but when it’s attended by most of the upper echelons of law enforcement in the county and their pagers all go off at once, it makes a splash and certainly captured my attention. While storylines quickly spun in different directions, the story remained cohesive and tight and the movement between the storylines created no confusion and actually brought me deeper into the story. There was a gritty realism to the descriptions of some of the explosion victims and the actions of both family and reporters that might remind readers of shots from the evening news. The exhaustion, frustration and all around despair caused by an incident like this waft from the page. As does the apprehension Hank experiences when he’s caught between family and duty.

This book had me hooked from the start and didn’t let go. There were so many moving parts the mystery kept me guessing through the final chapter. One of the things I liked best was the humanity didn’t get lost in favor of the mystery. Hank and Sheila and Sam, as well as many of the secondary characters were always people with feelings first and investigators second.

I hadn’t read the previous books in this series, but the book was easily read as a stand alone. One I highly recommend.

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Home Fires is the sixth Sheriff Hank Worth mystery. The setting is Branson, which is an actual tourist town in southwestern Missouri. This police procedural series has main characters you care about. Hank works really well with his second-in-command, Sheila Turley, and Deputy Sam Karnes. They are faced with a difficult case when a fireworks distribution warehouse catches fire and explodes, killing all the employees who were working. Other members of law enforcement arrive due to the nature of the case. This already difficult case gets even harder by an unexpected development. I wasn't sure about ATF agent Angela Alvarado at first, but I came to appreciate her intelligence and her no-nonsense manner in dealing with a potential suspect.

Hank's world is shattered by another investigation that hits close to home, and he eventually relies on Sheila and Sam's friendship to deal with the aftermath. Both investigations in this book kept my interest throughout the book. This is one of my favorites of the series because of the plots, but also because of the way Hank, Sheila, and Sam have come together over the series as supportive colleagues and friends. The cases are resolved, but the ending doesn't tie everything up in a bow for Hank in his personal life, so he may need more of Sheila's support in the future. If you're new to the series, the book also works as a standalone. 4.5 stars

I received an advance copy of this ebook at no cost from NetGalley and Severn House. My review is voluntary and unbiased.

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Home Fires by Claire Booth (Sheriff Hank Worth 6)

Plenty of action and multiple mysteries!

A catastrophic fire and explosion at a fireworks warehouse open this 6th entry in the Sheriff Hank Worth Mystery series. ATF is investigating the explosion. Hank’s department is working with the pathologist to assist in identifying victims. The Branson County Sheriff’s Department is short-handed due to a stingy funding budget.

Chief Deputy Sheila Turley, Hank’s 2nd in command, is still recovering from the horrific beating she endured in the last book. She can’t stay out of the investigations even if she still hurts. The new stand-in medical examiner discovers problems with the previous examiner’s work. This calls the death of one of Hank’s family members into question. With Hank’s attention diverted, Deputy Sam Karnes and Sheila must pick up more of the load. They assist with the fireworks victim identification. This leads them to investigate the mysterious robberies of the victims’ homes. When a surprise turns up in the victims' remains Sam and Sheila have a whole new investigation.

Claire Booth blends Hank’s professional and complicated home life in this story. Although it would help to have read the other books in the series, you can read it as a stand-alone. There is a wonderful cast of characters in this series, and it is a pleasure to revisit their lives. I found myself rooting for Sheila to recover and be able to return to full duties. The Pup, Deputy Sam Karnes, is developing into an intuitive and dogged investigator. I also enjoyed the glimpses of the families of Sheila and Hank, making you feel like you know them. I recommend this series if you like your mysteries spiked with humour.

Thanks to Severn House for access to a digital advance review copy on NetGalley.

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"Home Fires" by Claire Booth is a gripping police procedural set in Branson, Missouri, featuring Sheriff Hank Worth and his dedicated team. The story kicks off with a devastating explosion at a fireworks warehouse, leading to a complex investigation that uncovers shocking truths. What I loved most about this book is the authenticity of the characters and their relationships, particularly the camaraderie between Hank, Sheila Turley, and Sam Karnes. The intricate plot kept me hooked from start to finish, with unexpected twists and turns that kept me guessing. While it's part of a series, I found it easy to follow as a standalone read, although I was intrigued to learn more about the characters' pasts.
Overall, "Home Fires" is a compelling read that blends suspense, drama, and heartfelt moments seamlessly. Highly recommended for fans of police procedurals.

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The lasts in a well done procedural series featuring Sheriff Hank Worth and Deputy Sheila Turley that will be fine as a standalone. There are two plot lines running through this fairly slim volume that starts with an explosion at a fireworks factory but trust that they will come together. Good characters and a plot that's just twisty enough make this a good read. Thanks to netgalley for the ARC. Fans will be pleased with this one and new readers will head off to look for the back list.

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I would like to thank Netgalley and Severn House Publishers for an advance copy of Homes Fires, the sixth novel to feature Sheriff Hank Worth of Branson County, Missouri.

Hank is one of the first on scene after a local fireworks warehouse explodes, killing everyone inside. Fourteen bodies are retrieved but identification is difficult. Chief Deputy Sheila Turley returns from injury leave to help a stretched department, which is stretched further when Hank discovers something at the morgue that takes him away from the explosion investigation to make unofficial enquiries into what he has discovered. Then another discovery at the explosion site makes Sheila wonder about what happened there.

I thoroughly enjoyed Home Fires, which is an excellent procedural with a few twists to keep it interesting, not that it really needs them as the storylines are enough to keep the reader turning the pages. Still, a surprise or two keeps the reader on their toes.

Apart from the explosive start (pun intended) the novel generally has a quiet, even tone that both disguises the bombshells it drops and at the same time gives them a bigger impact due to their unexpectedness. As usual with this series there are a couple of plot lines and surprisingly it is not the explosion that has the biggest emotions, that goes to what Hank found at the morgue. Both, however, offer more questions than answers initially until the investigations tease out the detail of which there is a wealth. It is a meaty read with both investigations having more repercussions and associated crimes than a standard crime novel. It makes for an absorbing read.

The novel is set in rural Missouri but I don’t think that the setting is overly obvious, apart from the lack of money in public services, but I’m British and understand that scenario all too well.

Home Fires is a good read that I have no hesitation in recommending.

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A twisty murder mystery that had me turning pages till the end. I have not read any Hank Ford mysteries before so I did feel like I had come in mid story. There was little information about the characters as they showed up in the story so I was a little confused in the beginning. I did pick up some background on each character as the story progressed. But the police procedurals were fascinating as the teams uncover the truths behind the 2 separate murders, one of which was especially close to Hank’s family.

The previous books are being added to my TBR list!

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