4 out of 4 stars
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Hope Diamond is the head of Diamond Security. The agency was just hired to protect four influential, high-profile women and their guests while they attend a private meeting at the Secret Sands Resort in the middle of the Navajo Nation. Hope is highly intuitive and has subtle premonitions, and she senses that trouble is coming. She received a call from her long-distance boyfriend, an FBI agent who works out of Washington, notifying her that information about the meeting was found on the dark web. Someone might be targeted for assassination. The morning after everyone arrived, Meghan, one of the guests, was found dead of suspicious causes.
Since the meeting was on an Indian reservation, an FBI agent, Matt Dennison, was sent to investigate the death. Although he was excellent at his job, Matt could be very abrasive and rub people the wrong way. Hope and her team were informed that he didn’t want them involved in his investigation. However, Hope was determined to find out if Meghan was murdered and who was responsible; after all, Diamond Security’s reputation was on the line. This caused Matt and Hope to butt heads frequently. Nonetheless, they have to work fast to uncover the evidence before the guests leave for home or someone else is murdered.
Diamond in the Desert: A Hope Diamond Mystery by Karen Gilleland is a 316-page mystery/crime drama. Romance and paranormal elements are also woven into the story. Although this is the first book in the series, it is a standalone story. The author’s prose is lucid and interesting. She has created characters that are varied and believable. The plot is mesmerizing; multiple twists and turns keep the reader guessing what is coming next. I also loved the descriptions of the colorful landscapes, reminding me of my travels in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.
I enjoyed the leading characters in the story. Hope is beautiful, but she is also talented, intelligent, and thoughtful of others. She has learned to listen to her intuition and makes a wonderfully strong female protagonist. Although Matt is bull-headed and easy to loathe at the beginning, his softer, protective, and friendlier side comes through as the story develops, making him more likable. The author’s smart decision to gradually insert information about the guests prevents us from getting overwhelmed with trying to remember everyone at once. It also informs the reader of the characters’ aspirations and possible motives.
One of the things I thoroughly enjoyed in the novel was the information occasionally introduced into the story about the Navajo Indians. This not only pertains to their history but also their beliefs. For instance, Mr. Desheenie, one of the characters in the book who is a Navajo Indian, said, “My people have a great fear of the dead. We never mention their name. A dead person’s spirit, their chindi, can come back and bring harm.” This fear caused the resort to lose several of the employees because of Meghan’s death.
Having discovered nothing about the story to dislike, I am delighted to award Diamond in the Desert: A Hope Diamond Mystery four out of four stars. It is enthusiastically recommended to readers who enjoy mysteries, crime dramas, and romance novels. Since only occasional episodes of non-graphic violence, one borderline profanity, and no sex were encountered in the book, I believe it would be appropriate for teenage and older people. If mysteries and crime novels are not enjoyed by the reader, then they should search elsewhere for a book to enjoy.
Diamond in the Desert
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