|Jodi Thomas is an author well respected by TRR and many of her westerns have received four and five heart ratings from reviewers. Now Thomas has ventured into the realm of contemporary novels, and her first effort will make her fans happy.
Twisted Creek is the name of the community outside of Lubbock, Texas where the house that Allie Daniels just inherited is located. It isn’t much but it is a house and could become a home. The problem is, Allie inherited this from Jefferson Platt, an “uncle” she didn’t know she had. She and her grandmother, Nana, are moving in and will try to settle in before someone tells them there has been a mistake.
Allie always has had the worst luck. First, her mother abandoned her to run off seeking fame and fortune, or at least rich men. Then Nana, who raised her, started having bouts of dementia. Allie moved from job to job and nothing seemed to go her way. But maybe now, her luck has changed. Jefferson’s house is also a local country store, with the store and kitchen on the first floor and the living area on the second. Jefferson has been talking about Allie to all the neighbors for years and they are not surprised when she shows up. They assume she plans to run the bait shop/general store and are thrilled that Nana can cook and will actually have food to sell out of the café. Jefferson promised a lot but never delivered real food.
Characters abound in Twisted Creek, a community that has not been at its best lately. There is Mrs. Deals, who comes and buys cookies every week. Her home is the only one with a phone and she seems to know everything. Willie is a local fisherman who smells like his catch and who seems to be sweet on Nana. There are brothers who never seem to be apart from each other and Mary Lynn, a sweet young woman who is hiding from the tragedy of some past murders in her family. Timothy is staying in his family’s cottage trying to avoid the pressure his father is putting on him to join the family’s accounting firm. Finally there is Luke Morgan. Luke acts like a drifter, staying in his own place just up the lake. Luke grew up here, and his Native American relatives were friends with Jefferson.
But Luke is more than he seems. He is an ATF agent on “vacation” while he checks into Jefferson’s death, which seems more than suspicious. Sadly, the local Sheriff Fletcher is more concerned about his posturing and elections than about actually solving crime or keeping the public safe. Luke suspects that there are some meth drug dealers using the abandoned cabins and homes as labs. He has discovered several burned-out structures. His guess is that they make the meth, and then burn the house to destroy the evidence. Then they move on to another place.
This folksy, charming story follows the adventures of this crew as they build friendships (and in some cases more than friendships), build a community and learn about their strengths as they grow in strength as a group. The aura has a hint of Macomber folksiness and yet, there are the depths of characters we have grown used to from Thomas. Despite the sense of calamity and a touch of a madcap feel, Thomas melds the area, the community and all the people together and brings them to life. The touch of mystery adds a nice flavor to the mix and the romance is warm.
The story started a little slow but ultimately the picture came together. Allie and Luke are not my favorite of Thomas’ characters but they are engaging and bring some fun and romance into the story. The tale ended a bit quickly and I didn’t get a real sense of the happily ever after, but if all goes well, Thomas may have plans to visit Twisted Creek again. Based on the pleasures received in this tale, it is one journey I would make with her.