Killer Nashville Book of the Day
Wolf: A Jessica James Mystery by Kelly Oliver
Reviewed by Joseph Borden
Jessica James, a quick-witted Montana cowgirl turned philosopher, and star of Kelly Oliver’s Wolf: A Jessica James Mystery, wants only to successfully defend her thesis and earn her degree—an achievement that would be a slap in the face, of sorts, to all those who doubted she could survive the rigors inherent in the patriarchy that is academia. But when she discovers Professor Wolfgang Schumtzig’s—her thesis advisor—dead body in a bathtub, she becomes entangled in a web of lies, secrets, mystery, and murder from which the only way out is through. For Jessica, survival begins to take on a new, and deadlier, meaning.
Enter Dmitry Durchenko, university janitor and former-heir to The Oxford Don’s Russian mafia syndicate. At the age of eighteen, Dmitry cut ties with his family and fled his homeland with two of his father’s most prized possessions—antique Russian paintings valued at several million dollars apiece. He’s kept a low profile for decades, but after Schumtzig’s death, he realizes his life, and his family’s lives, are at stake.
Dmitry’s actions serve as the impetus for the story, but, of course, Jessica and her ragtag group of friends—Amber, a tech-savvy hippie, Jack, a wise-cracking stoner, and Lolita, Dmitry’s smart, seductive, and fearless daughter—are the stars of the show. And each of have a long row to hoe if they want to unravel this mystery.
Simultaneously heartwarming, irreverent, clever, suspenseful, and humorous, this novel moves quickly and keeps the reader glued to the page. Oliver’s characters—particularly the women—are fierce, unique, and largely unpredictable. Unlike many mysteries, even those with women protagonists, Jessica does not rely on the good graces of a knight in shining armor to save her—which is refreshing and commendable. With the help of her friends (and a lot of luck) Jessica is more than equipped to handle the likes of the Russian mob, fratty, would-be rapists, and the difficulties inherent in navigating the academic world. Clever, funny, brave, and endearingly awkward, Jessica James is a character that readers will not be able to get enough of.
Oliver’s Wolf is just the first enthralling installment of (hopefully) many more Jessica James mysteries to come. Wolf and Coyote (the second book of the series) are already on sale, and Fox is set to release in February 2017. Pick up your copies today; you won’t be disappointed.
Joseph Borden graduated from Tusculum College in December of 2014 with a degree in Creative Writing. Previously, he’s served as Managing Editor for The Tusculum Review and as an advertising specialist for a The Hickman County Times. He spends most of his time reading and writing fiction—his short story “Hell or High Water” was Editor’s Choice for the 2014 edition of Din Magazine. His hobbies include playing guitar, singing, people watching, and riding his motorcycle. He currently lives in Lyles.
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