Feature Blog: Lola Wicks Mysteries, #1-#3 by Gwen Florio

  

RATINGS: 4 out of 5 Stars for All Books

I am featuring this series because I am currently reading Reservations, Book #4 in this series from Net Galley. This is a very solid series that has a strong female protagonist, Lola Wicks, who was a foreign correspondent and now writes for her small town paper. The plots are all interesting, entertaining and well written. The secondary characters are developed and realistic. Ms. Florio’s very special talent is in her description of the scenery in Montana and Dakota and the type of people that populate it. Below are my reviews for these three books and I will be adding the fourth soon. This is a series that is worth getting hooked on!

BOOK #1 – MONTANA

Lola Wicks has been pulled from her foreign correspondent post in Afghanistan because her paper has downsized. She is told to use her vacation time and decide if she wants to continue stateside with the paper on a suburban beat. Extremely upset, she decides to visit her best friend, Mary Ellen, who quit her job as a fellow reporter to relocate to Montana.

Lola discovers her friend shot dead on the hill by her cabin. When Lola is told to stay in town, upsetting her plans to return to Kabul, she decides the inexperienced sheriff is not moving fast enough and sets her reporter skills to the case. What she finds is that the techniques she has been using overseas do not translate to small town Montana or the Blackfeet reservation. She has to ingratiate herself to the locals, Blackfeet and sheriff for information to follow the trail to who killed Mary Alice and why. Racial discrimination between the towns people and the Blackfeet, drug smuggling and politics are all twisted into this mystery.

Lola is a developed, three dimensional character. She is tenacious, intelligent and everything a reporter should be and she also steals a trinket from everyone she deals with. She did come back from overseas with what appears to be PTSD and this makes her interactions with people more difficult and abrupt. I really like this protagonist. As she solves this case, she becomes more attached to the people and animals around her. My only problem was the ending of the case seemed to come very abruptly and Lola’s personal life also shifted quickly, But I will definitely be back for more.

BOOK #2- DAKOTA

This book starts three months after the death of her friend in Book #1 and it can be read as a standalone.

Lola is living in Magpie, Montana with Sheriff Charlie Larendeau on his small ranch. She is a reporter for the small town’s paper and living with the sheriff leaves her with two problems: 1. she is supposed to report on the Blackfeet, but Charlie is half Blackfeet and 2. it keeps her off the crime beat since he is the sheriff, but you know that won’t stop her.

Several Blackfeet girls have gone missing over the past year, but they were just written off as runaways until one of the girls is found dead in a snowbank. Lola is hearing rumors that the girls are all known drug users and were working as prostitutes in the oil boom shanty town outside of Burnt Creek. Lola sets off with her dog, Bub, to the North Dakota oil patch. Fracking, big oil money, prostitution and drugs all come together in this boom town with its influx of male population and law enforcement that looks the other way. Lola just wants to uncover the truth, but she ends up in a fight for her own life.

A gritty mystery with people who just want to take advantage of a money boom, but the consequences are harsh, if not deadly. Lola’s story just keeps getting more intriguing. Ms. Florio brings the oil patch and the people it attracts to life. She also once again realistically depicts the Blackfeet and their problems. I can’t wait to get the next Lola book!

BOOK #3 – DISGRACED

Lola is forced to take a furlough from the paper and so she leaves for a vacation with her young daughter, Maggie and dog, Bub on their way to Yellowstone.

Her friend asks her to stop and check on her cousin, Pal, who is a returned vet from Afghanistan who lives on the way in Wyoming. What Lola finds when she arrives at Pal’s are small town friends who served together, but when they returned, one was dead and disgraced, one gets a hero’s welcome, one commits suicide, two nearly beat a man to death and Pal, the only female of the group is traumatized. Lola smells a story and the vacation is postponed while she gets to know the vets. Secrets, truths and lies all need to be sorted and the truth can get Pal, Lola and her daughter all killed.

I liked this Lola book the best so far. It can be read as a standalone in regards to the main plot, but Lola’s personal life does carry over. It focuses on the returned troops and the many problems they face at home. There are violent scenes in this book. The author depicts prejudice, rape and a conspiracy of lies.

This is a series that makes you think was well as entertains and this is another great addition.

Check out this series and author!