#BookReview: “Gunnysack Hell” by Nancy Brashear


It’s the summer of 1962, middle of the Cold War, and the O’Brien family has moved off-grid to the Mojave Desert in Southern California. After all, the desert has to be a safer place to raise a family than the crime-ridden city, and there they can build a new future. But evil also stalks dusty desert roads, and eight-year-old Nonni finds herself harboring a terrible secret: Only she can identify the predator who has been terrorizing the community. And he knows where she lives.


Back in 1962, eight-year-old Nonni lives with her family off the grid in the Californian desert. She’s living a happy, carefree life until a stranger approaches her and her little sister. For the next several months, she lives in terror that this man will make due on his promise to hurt her family.

I don’t read crime fiction often, but this one had a compelling plot. It’s told in the point-of-view of Nonni, her sister Tessa, their parents, and their grandmother. The characters’ tension and stress drove the story, as well as the mystery of when the bad guy was going to strike next.

Ms. Brashear did an amazing job of creating each character’s voice. The children sounded like kids and the adults each had their own personality, too. She did a great job of upping the tension and putting the characters at odds with one another. Her descriptions of the scenery were so vivid I could easily picture them in my head, and though I hate to say this, the pacing was slow at times. There are some unanswered questions about the villain, but none affected the plot.

Anyway, Gunnysack Hell offers a compelling mystery with an ensemble of fascinating characters sure to entertain for an evening.

4 Stars

— I’d love to know what you think of the book or my review. Please comment below.

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