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Serenity by Craig A. Hart
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This great thriller grabbed me from the first page and didn't let go.

It starts with the 60-year-old former boxer, Alexander Shelby, finding a woman lying in the snow on his property. She died before she could tell anyone what happened but since she was considered "mental" the police wouldn't have questioned her anyway. It looked like she got lost and froze to death. But her brother, Harlan Ellis, didn't think so. He hired Shelby to find out what really happened, paying him $10,000.

Everyone feared the Ellis family, staying away from them because they took the law into their own hands. They were the biggest meth dealers in the area, so they had a lot of enemies and a lot to protect. The new sheriff is determined to stop drug trafficking, so the Ellis family's life is going to change. Add to that another drug dealer moving in and nobody's life is safe.

When Shelby gets shot at, and others die he knows there's more to Jenny's death than they first thought.

This fantastic story is full of action and had me surprised at the end when I learned who killed who. I love that in a story. I liked that Shelby was a more mature man than most you see in stories today. He struggled with getting older, but he was in excellent shape because of his previous boxing career. The one thing I wasn't crazy about was that his girlfriend was 30 years younger than him. I'm sure that is every man's dream but the pressure for him to perform had to have been enormous.

I did get this book from Craig Hart but I'm reviewing it on my own as I do with everything I read. Not because I was asked to.

The plot, characters, and dialogue are terrific. I recommend Serenity to thriller fans. ( )
  JoAB | Jan 10, 2017 |
Shelby Alexander is feeling his age. His adult daughter treats him like a frail old man and it takes him a lot longer to recover from a hangover. But, with a lover half his age and taste for dangerous adventure, he's not going to let his advanced years slow him down. Much.

I received an ARC of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Now that I'm slightly (just slightly!!) closer to sixty than twenty, I'm finding it a tad more difficult to find protagonists who are close to my age, especially in the genres I like to read—barring all the ancient immortals, of course. I was intrigued by the description of this thriller, with a protagonist described as "aging" and "retired."

The main plot of this book centers around the meth industry in the small town of Serenity. Shelby is asked to investigate the death of a girl by her brother, who just happens to run the family meth business. What he finds during the course of that investigation is the center of the book.

But I found some of the other parts of the story even more interesting. Shelby has always been a physical guy, being an ex-boxer and a "fixer." He's not yet old enough to have lost all of his physical abilities, but he can tell he's past his prime. His adult daughter, from whom he was formerly estranged, is acting as though he is sick and frail, which just reminds him of his advancing years. His relationship with his lover, who is his daughter's age, makes him feel both young and old at the same time. And the old friend who comes to town to help him get into and out of mischief does the same.

Shelby is on the threshold of a new stage in life, and not the one that many of us aspire to. That time of transition is difficult at best. I found the exploration of it in this novel particularly interesting. The market is flooded with "coming of age" stories right now, but rarely in genre fiction do I see stories that address the later stages in life. ( )
  InvestedIvana | Dec 20, 2016 |
I received a free copy of "Serenity" from the author in exchange for an honest review.
I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline of "Serenity" and enjoyed the characters as they came and went. There are still some unanswered questions remaining that will hopefully be answered in the next installment. However, the story is good enough to stand on its own.

Shelby Alexander, a former boxer, PI, and retired "normal guy" lives by himself in upper Michigan. He's divorced and has a 30 year-old daughter who takes a special interest in having her dad contact the ex-wife to see if they can get back together again. Her reason for pestering him is answered at the end. However, Shelby's quite content with the life he has - especially his sex life with the town's bartender, Carly, who is his daughters age. They are a hoot together and their conversations are witty and sarcastic - readers will laugh during some of them.

When a young girl is found dead on his property, Shelby sets out to find her murderer. The head of the local drug dealer family offers him $10k to find out who murdered the girl - his sister. Shelby solicits the help of his long-time friend, Mack, a retired Detroit Policer Officer, who joins in the investigation. There's a new sheriff in town, but he's evasive or never around, a new drug czar is moving into the area and attempting a coup of the local family, local people begin dying, and then Shelby and Mack become hostages. This is when everything become clear to both the readers and Shelby. Now, they have to do whatever they can to stay alive and escape their tormenters.

What I like about the story is that the main protagonist isn't a former Special Forces guy or spy with specialized skills or powers. At 60 yrs old, Shelby is likeable, gets drunk often, has a great sex life, enjoys fishing, and owns a Jeep.- all the requirements for living in quiet Northern Michigan.

Highly recommended. Looking forward to the next installment. Great job Mr. Hart!

John Podlaski, author
"Cherries - A Vietnam War Novel" and "When Can I Stop Running?" ( )
  JPodlaski | Nov 30, 2016 |
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