Dead and Gone by Sherryl Clark #BookReview #BlogTour

There's nothing more dangerous than revenge. 
Judi Westerholme has been through it. Brave and strong-willed, she's just about coping in her new role as foster parent to her orphaned niece, taking a job at the local pub to help make ends meet. Then the pub's landlord and Judi's friend, army veteran Pete 'Macca' Maccasfield, is murdered, and her world is suddenly turned upside down. 
Despite warnings from the city police to keep out of it, Judi can't help but get involved in the search for Macca's killer. But she soon becomes deeply entangled with some ruthlessly dangerous men. She must act fast and think smart to work out what they want - before anyone else gets hurt... 
Long buried secrets resurface in Sherryl Clark's pacy crime novel that pushes Judi Westerholme to her limits to protect the people she loves most.

It's my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for Dead and Gone today. Many thanks to Sherryl Clark and Claire Quinlivan from No Exit Press for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

Dead and Gone is the sequel to Trust Me I'm Dead in Sherryl Clark's Judi Westerholme series but the first I have read. I certainly didn't find it difficult to join the series at this point and Judi's back story is seamlessly woven into the novel to bring new readers up to speed with what happened previously.
Judi has been left as guardian to her young niece, Mia following the death of the little girl's parents and as she is reluctant to sell her brother's house, she has taken on a job in the local pub. It doesn't seem to be a role she especially enjoys but she is obviously competent and understands how to handle both the locals and tourists who visit. However, everything changes when her boss, Macca is found murdered; Judi has make a number of difficult choices but now she has Mia to think about too.
Her past evidently still affects her but it's not all bad news as Heath, a police officer from the city whom she met previously and is in a tentative relationship with, is sent to the small town of Candlebark to investigate Macca's death. Being in such close proximity leads to new problems, particularly when Judi can't help but carry out her own investigation even though it may potentially put her in harm's way. Things are further complicated by an unexpected development which means she could be considered a possible suspect and which could have long term implications for her future, depending on what she decides to do.
I do enjoy crime fiction featuring an amateur detective and Judi is an excellent protagonist. She is resourceful and courageous but her headstrong, impetuous nature puts more than just her relationship at risk. Though not somebody who bears her emotions easily, she has a softer, more vulnerable side and I loved seeing how she has clearly changed since Mia entered her life. Small communities are always ripe settings for murder mysteries and Candlebark is awash with gossip and secrets. Though a fictional place, set not far from Melbourne, it authentically evokes the spirit of a typical small Australian town and its colourful inhabitants - from the kookaburras and galahs to the human residents, many of whom seem to have something to hide.
The engaging narrative flows naturally and the propulsive plot is suspenseful and pacy with a good dash of humour throughout. The mystery itself is intriguing with plenty of red herrings before an unexpected and tense conclusion. I very much enjoyed my visit to Candlebark and look forward to Judi Westerholme investigating more murders and irritating certain members of the local police force in the future. 

Dead and Gone is published by Verve Books, purchasing links can be found here.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

 Sherryl Clark has had 40 children’s and YA books published in Australia, and several in the US and UK, plus collections of poetry and four verse novels. She has taught writing at Holmesglen TAFE and Victoria University. She recently completed a Master of Fine Arts program at Hamline University, Minnesota, and is now studying for a PhD in creative writing. Sherryl's debut novel, Trust Me, I'm Dead, was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger. It is the first novel in the Judi Westerholme series, followed by Dead and Gone.