by Front Porch Contributor

The Oaks Bed & Breakfast


Ava James and the Ivy Grove

By A.J. River

Independently Published

262 pages, Amazon $13.99

4.25 Stars

In the wake of a tragic event, late in her teens, Ava James’ life is forever changed. The path she may have chosen as an adult is colored by this event making her life and choices different for many years after. Now, as a new Special Agent for the FBI she is faced with a situation that she has been thrusted into in the wake of the death of an event organizer at a special event to honor her aunt for her work in a philanthropic organization.

Before the event, Ava’s first assignment with the FBI is to shadow a seasoned agent and break apart a human trafficking ring that is held on an island with a resort. While undercover she meets the “menu” curator and finds the whole process difficult to be exposed to, but manages to put the past behind her and help the kidnapped people escape and bring down the island.

After her experience on the island, she and her family travel to another private island to celebrate the work her aunt has done for a charitable organization. Her aunt is being recognized for all her years of dedicated work.

The event seems to be going well, until one of the housekeepers turns up missing. While looking for the housekeeper, it is discovered that the event coordinator, Peyton, has been murdered in her office. Ava is then thrust into the middle of discovering who would murder this woman and why. All of the guests are “trapped” on the island, because of a winter storm and are unable to leave. Which also means that law enforcement will not be able to arrive at the island to investigate the crime committed.

As Ava goes about trying to discover who murdered Peyton, two more people are killed, which proves that the events transpiring are more than what they seem. Ava must figure out who the killer is before any more people are killed and before all of the people leave the island, carrying away the evidence that will implicate the guilty party.

The start of this book was a little confusing, and the author does not at any point in the story clarify the past. I can only hope that will come in a future book. The first part of Ava and the FBI on the first island is also not as clear as it could have been. It should be noted that Ava James is a spinoff character within another series by this author. The character connections and roles seemed to not be clearly defined, possibly due to lack of information about Ava’s past. I understand that she is a spin off character but having a clear picture in a new series is always helpful. Once past her shadow assignment is complete, the plot develops, and becomes clearer and more specific.

As the reader you are unable to discover who the guilty party is through direct information from the author. I felt as though two characters were slimy and could have been the culprit. The author did a good job of tying up the ending of the story and only leaves the reader with questions about the past. Besides the first few bumps in the road, the story moved well and has good character development. As the reader you want to find out more about what Ava will do with her career and more details about her past.

Contributed by Allison Libby-Thesing

Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpQP8pNzNT5ml9CqehzJEqA

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