Fiction, Mystery

Bitter Pill

Cover image for Bitter Pill by Stacey Kadeby Stacey Kade

ISBN 9780988585942

Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book through CLP Blog Tours.

It’s just that whenever bodies started floating, swinging or, in this case, dropping, I happened to be there. Bad luck, maybe. Still, worse luck for them than for me. This time, it was some very poor fortune for Doc Hallacy, the pharmacist.

After getting married young and divorced not much older, Rennie Harlow moved from Chicago, back to the small town of Morrisville where she grew up. She lives in an apartment above her mother’s garage, and scrapes together a living by freelancing for the local paper, and doing any other kind of writing work she can find. She’s only been home for a year, but she’s already found two bodies, giving her something of a reputation with the local Sheriff’s office. So when she goes to the pharmacy early one morning to pick up a prescription for her mother, and finds the elderly pharmacist, Doc Hallacy, beaten to death with a cane, she gets to look forward to topping their suspect list once again. Fortunately, Rennie is both observant and persistent, so she knows that given half a chance, she can track the murderer down herself. And she might just get to spend a bit of time with Sheriff Jake Bristol in the bargain, even if she has to keep reminding herself that he’s married.

Bitter Pill is a page-turning small-town mystery, of the sort where everyone thinks they know each other’s business, but as Rennie delves into the mystery of Doc Hallacy’s death, she stumbles over more Morrisville secrets than she can shake a cane at. When everyone is keeping a secret of some kind, it’s hard to tell who might be keeping the secret of a murder. And this time around, Rennie is keeping a little secret of her own; her early morning visit to Doc Hallacy was to pick a “narcolepsy” prescription for her mother, a known hypochondriac. Doctor Murphy, Doc Hallacy, and Rennie have been conspiring to mislabel her bottles and dose her with anti-anxiety medications instead, but with Doc Hallacy dead, Rennie will also have to contend with the difficulties in her relationship with her mother, and grapple with whether or not to reveal Doc’s highly illegal practices.

I read this relatively short mystery in a single sitting, and really enjoyed it, but the one thing I was unsure of with this book was the premise of Rennie’s involvement in the case. I was perfectly ready to buy the idea of her unofficially pursuing the killer even after her editor at the local paper takes her off the story, but it was a bit weird the way Bristol kept trying to make her involvement official by asking her to come the reading of the will, etc. He actually says that it is because “she’s the best witness I’ve got,” and I really didn’t know whether this was supposed to be a legitimate reason or merely an excuse because Jake wants to spend time with Rennie as much as she wants to spend time with him. As a legitimate reason, that’s pretty lame, but since the story is from Rennie’s POV, we don’t really get into Bristol’s head to find out what he’s thinking, so we can only go by Rennie’s inferences, which all point towards Bristol doing his best to keep himself out of a sticky situation with her.

Stacey Kade originally published this book under the same title as Stacey Klemstein back in 2008, so my hope is that this relaunch means more Rennie Harlow mysteries to come. Rennie obviously has an interesting back story, and Bitter Pill ends with some unanswered questions that are ripe for a sequel. The series is off to a good start, and I’m itching to know what other secrets the people of Morrisville are keeping. 


bitter pill buttonWant to win a signed copy of Bitter Pill? Head over to the CLP tour page, and leave a comment, and you’ll be entered to win!

Also by Stacey Kade: The Rules (Project Paper Doll #1) 

Cover Reveal

COVER REVEAL: Bitter Pill by Stacey Kade

Cover image for Bitter Pill by Stacey Kade


Summary (Provided by the author):

The truth is a bitter pill…

Rennie Harlow is having a bad year. She had a handsome husband, a good job, and a renovated condo in Chicago. Now, thanks to one “exotically beautiful” paralegal, she’s divorced, faking her way through a writing career, and living above her hypochondriac mother’s garage back in Morrisville, the small town she couldn’t leave fast enough at eighteen. On top of all of that, she just found Doc Hallacy, the local pharmacist, dead behind his counter. And the worst part is, he’s the third body she’s stumbled across this year. Jake Bristol has lived in Morrisville his whole life. A former bad boy turned sheriff, he doesn’t believe it’s just Rennie’s luck or timing that’s the problem. He thinks she’s too nosy for her own good. The last thing he needs is her messing around with his murder investigation so that she can freelance for the Morrisville Gazette. But as they both delve deeper into Doc’s death, they find that things don’t add up. This isn’t a robbery gone wrong or the work of a desperate junkie. Someone has a secret they’re killing to keep. The only question is—who’s next?

Publication date: October 28, 2013

Back in April, I reviewed The Rules (Project Paper Doll #1) by Stacey Kade, so I’m looking forward to checking out her new book!

As part of the cover reveal, there is a Rafflecopter giveaway where you can win one of three e-ARCs, a $25 gift card, or an annotated ARC. Good luck!

Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Young Adult

The Rules (Project Paper Doll #1)

Cover image for The Rules by Stacey Kadeby Stacey Kade

ISBN 978-1-4231-5328-3

Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book at ALA Midwinter 2013. All quotes are based on an uncorrected text.

“Hey, you try living in a secret underground lab for the first six years of your life and see if your understanding of the metaphorical isn’t a little shaky. The point is, people notice when you are late. But they also notice when you are early…GTX didn’t own me, not anymore. But they still controlled my life, down to the smallest details.”

Ariane Tucker lives her life by five strict rules: never trust anyone; remember they are always searching; don’t get involved; keep your head down; don’t fall in love. These rules keep her safe even as she and her “father” hide in the backyard of GTX, the company that created her by combining human and alien DNA. Running would be suspicious—her “father” and rescuer works for GTX—but hiding is also suspicious. The only thing to do is live completely normally, right under their noses. Rule five always seemed like an afterthought to Ariane—how can you fall in love if you don’t get involved?—until Zane Bradshaw asks her out as part of a revenge plot by the queen bee, Rachel Jacobs, granddaughter of the founder of GTX. But instead of going along with Rachel’s plan, Zane wants to get back at her for betraying him. Normally, Ariane wouldn’t get involved, but then she discovers that Rachel’s infuriating presence enables her to access extra-terrestrial powers she thought she had lost a long time ago. Unfortunately for Ariane, it’s pretty hard to keep your head down when the most popular girl in school has a vendetta against you. And, of course, the problem with pretending to be in love is that pretty soon, you aren’t sure what’s real.

Alternately narrated by Ariane and Zane, we see both sides of the story as Ariane struggles to keep her secret, and Zane tries to puzzle it out without violating her tentative trust. His point of view is down-to-earth, while Ariane is slightly alien despite her human conditioning. Ariane’s latent telepathic abilities also provide insight into a number of other characters, as well as a good dose of comic relief (keep an eye out for Mrs. Vanderhoff). Despite the sci-fi premise, the focus is on real issues including pressure from parents, negotiating friendships, and surviving bullying. Although Rachel comes across as a cut-and-dried mean girl, I was left with hope for more interesting and well-rounded future character development as the series continues (assuming she’s even around). Zane’s character development on the other hand, already has an interesting twist; most of it happened before the book started, when his mother abandoned his family on his birthday. The Rules solidifies this development when he decides to take action, being the person he wants to be, rather than continuing the impossible struggle to please his father, the local police chief. Ariane herself is a delight, blending alien cluelessness with the keen insights of an outside observer. Although the action was packed into the last quarter of the book, The Rules was a real page-turner, and the hint of a conspiracy that extends beyond GTX provides ample fodder for future books.