Death Rides Again Review
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Summer is a time for family reunions—for getting together with crazy uncles and long-lost cousins for some grilled food and awkward conversation. Now throw in murder—as in Janice Hamrick’s latest Jocelyn Shore mystery, Death Rides Again—and you’ve got the perfect formula for some serious family dysfunction.

When Jocelyn and her cousin, Kyla, travel to their family’s ranch in small-town Texas, they expect a fun weekend of food and family. But what they get is murder, mayhem, and some tricky romantic entanglements.

It all begins when Jocelyn walks in on her uncle, Kel, aiming a gun at his no-good son-in-law, Eddy. When Eddy turns up dead that night, Kel is the main suspect. And it’s all downhill from there.

As Jocelyn digs for clues that will clear her uncle’s name—unearthing some dark secrets in the process—she’s also forced to face her feelings for the handsome cop who’s joined her on the trip and the boyfriend in Dallas who’s waiting for her to make a choice.

Hamrick’s third Jocelyn Shore mystery (after Death on Tour and Death Makes the Cut) once again finds the characters in a new location—this time, out on the ranch. The down-home setting—complete with visiting relatives of all ages and personalities—gives the story a kind of folksy, family charm. But instead of sticking with the family—and developing more of these often eccentric characters—Hamrick tends to stick more to the mystery.

The story, then, is a twisting maze of mysteries. What starts out as just one investigation soon turns into more as characters go missing and others turn up dead. And Jocelyn finds herself in the middle of the action as her family is implicated and her would-be boyfriend, Colin, sets out to help the local sheriff investigate. As mystery builds on top of mystery, it turns into a multi-layered story. It becomes a little thorny toward the end—especially during the final explanation—but there are more than enough pieces at play to keep readers guessing.

The characters, meanwhile, still leave a bit to be desired. Jocelyn’s strength and determination are often undermined by her inability to make a decision about her love life—though that could change in upcoming installments, now that she’s finally made up her mind. Still, Jocelyn is a breath of fresh air when compared with her cousin, Kyla, a vain, self-centered character who tends to meddle in other people’s business. Three books into the series, I’m still not sure why Jocelyn would keep her around.

With its unusual mix of characters and its sometimes tricky layers of murder and mayhem, Death Rides Again definitely isn’t a must-read, but it’s still an enjoyably light adventure. So if you find yourself stuck at your own family reunion this summer, you might want to pack the latest Jocelyn Shore mystery in your bag. If nothing else, it’ll make an entertaining escape from your own crazy family.

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