Book Review // A Killing at the Creek by Nancy Allen

A Killing at the Creek Book Cover A Killing at the Creek
Ozarks Mysteries
Nancy Allen
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
HarperCollins Publishers, Witness Impulse Imprint
February 17, 2015
Paperback, eBook

Prosecutor Elsie Arnold loves her small-town home in the Ozark hills, but she's been waiting for a murder to come along and make her career. So when a body is found under a bridge, throat cut, Elsie jumps at the chance to work on the case, even if it's alongside the brash new chief assistant, Chuck Harris--and her latest flame, Detective Bob Ashlock. But when the investigation reveals that the deceased woman was driving a school bus, and the police recover the vehicle, its interior covered in blood...the occupant and only suspect is a fifteen-year-old boy. Elsie's in for more than she bargained for. Win or lose, this case will haunt her. No one has successfully prosecuted a juvenile for first degree murder in McCown County. If she loses, it's her career on the line and a chilling murder unresolved; if she wins, a boy's liberty will be taken from him before he reaches his sixteenth birthday.


I jumped on the opportunity to read A Killing at the Creek by Nancy Allen when I discovered it among the many Edelweiss selections. I put my request in and kept my fingers crossed. Honestly, when I stumbled upon the latest from the Ozark Mysteries series, I had never heard of Nancy Allen, or read her previous novel, The Code of the Kills. I took the opportunity to read Nancy’s work because her novels are set in my neck of the woods.

One of my many goals for reading in 2015 – find local authors to support through reading their novels, writing reviews, and educating myself more about the individual author. A Killing in the Creek is my first local author read and review.

My likes:

Kept me involved: … which is the first word (involved) that comes to mind from reading Allen’s novel. The story of A Killing at the Creek allowed me to become easily involved in the story. There are many folds in the store, but two that stand out are of course the obvious, a murder, but also gives the underlying fold of a woman growing into her own. I think it is the underlying fold that kept me involved.

Elsie’s character: She is a young woman still developing not only into herself but into her position as a prosecutor. What grabs me about Elsie is that she is an everyday woman; she’s not beyond readers being able to relate to her character. Ups and downs, like boyfriend issues, feeling a bit on the outside, and still trying to figure out life, these are all things individuals are dealing with day in and day out.

The middle:

The murder: Not a like or dislike, but in the middle is the story that brings all of the characters together which is the murder. Murder is a tale that is used as a foundation for many novels, so I didn’t find it new or innovative. Not a bad thing at all; the murder is interesting because it dives into the fragile mind of a 15-year-old and what I gather to be a potential brain-washing into the teen he becomes.

My dislikes:

Elsie’s character: Yes, it’s a love/hate relationship I have with Elsie. In some ways, her character can also be what causes a kink in reading. Elsie’s relationship with her boyfriend (or is he just a benefit of the job?) causes her character to be a bit – whiny – which can be normal for a young woman still finding herself in life. Her boyfriend, Detective Bob Ashlock, also happens to be an older man in tune with who is and the lead detective on her murder case. There are two points in the story where I found myself wanting to take Elsie’s face in my hands and yell at her to “snap out of it!”

Chuck Harris’ character: He’s not the antagonist; he’s not the creating conflict, but he certainly is not a help in solving the crime. He’s a lazy prosecutor that in my opinion seems to want the glory, but does absolutely nothing to help achieve the glory. Chuck does help in the sense that he is bad to Elsie’s good, I at times wondered why he was there – I get it, but I don’t get it.

Final thought: I really liked this book. I didn’t get bored and I certainly didn’t find myself challenged reading it. I look forward to picking up The Code of the Hills (Allen’s first Ozark Mystery novel) and the continuing story of crimes that Elsie will prosecute.

Nancy Allen practiced law for 15 years as an Assistant Missouri Attorney General and Assistant Prosecutor in her native Ozarks. She has tried over 30 jury trials, including murder and sexual offenses, and is now a law instructor at Missouri State University. Her first novel, The Code of the Hills, was published by HarperCollins in 2014. A Killing at the Creek, the second book in the Ozarks mystery series, will be released on February 17, 2015.

Disclosure Review OWN