Thursday, June 18, 2020

Snake Oil (Patrick Flint, #2) by Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Audible Audiobook
Author & Narrator: Pamela Fagan Hutchins
Listening Length: 8 hours and 17 minutes
Audio Publisher: Pamela Fagan Hutchins
Print Publisher: SkipJack Publishing Release Date: January 8, 2020

ABOUT THE BOOK: A doctor on a quest to make a difference. A flirty widow with a suspiciously dead husband. Stranded on the Wind River Indian Reservation in a deadly blizzard, Patrick Flint is about to figure out just how much of an outsider he really is. 

Patrick Flint feels a calling to volunteer at the impoverished Indian Health Services clinic on the Wind River Reservation that he can't completely explain. His wife Susanne usually supports him, but her family is coming for their first Wyoming visit, 12-year-old Perry is stir crazy and looking for trouble, teenager Trish is dangerously in love, and Suzanne and Patrick are in the final stages of negotiations on their dream house. The Christmas holidays are not a convenient time for him to be gone, or to be out of communication, which is exactly what happens when a series of blizzards knocks out power and phone lines all over the region.

When Patrick arrives in Fort Washakie to a flirty reception from the young clinic manager, Constance, he discovers Big Mike Teton, a tribal council member, dead in the parking lot. The circumstances point toward poisoning, but local law enforcement pooh-poohs that idea the second Patrick brings it up. So does Big Mike's widow—none other than the lovely Constance.

Stranded in the storm, Patrick follows his heart and the medical evidence in his quest to figure out what killed Big Mike. No one on the reservation seems happy about his involvement. But they aren't half as unhappy with him as Susanne is back in Buffalo when their realtor calls with a make-or-break counteroffer on the house, and she still can't reach him after two days of radio silence.

As Patrick's investigation begins to ruffle the wrong feathers, a frantic Susanne loads up the kids and her extended family for a trek across Wyoming to roust her husband, only to discover she's not the only woman with a strong interest in the good doctor.

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4.5 STARS. HALL WAYS REVIEW. Audio Book / Print Combo Review. This second installment in the Patrick Flint series is just as engaging as the first, and there is never a dull moment with so many moving parts and different viewpoints -- oh, and dead bodies! Be warned: there are spoilers if you haven't read the first book in the series, Switchback (why?!). Otherwise, for returning readers, our memories of the harrowing experiences the Flint family has endured are satisfactorily refreshed.

“It was the kind of look that got a fella’s ass kicked.”

At its core, the story is about family and since the story is told from each of the Flint family members’ viewpoints, it makes them all feel very real.  Even when they are at odds with one another, they come together and support and help each other in real times of crisis, like all families do. (Unlike many families, "support" in this family gets pretty violent at times.) As a bonus, in Snake Oil, the extended family has joined the Flints for the holidays, adding an additional layer of authenticity and some levity. Some scenes were reminiscent of the Vacation movies.

Also realistic is the setting. Hutchins has a flair for writing what she knows, and that is Wyoming and the '70s, apparently. Rich descriptions of scenery place the readers in the bitter, but beautiful cold of December in rugged country. And, a sprinkling of specific details reminds readers of the time period:  The International Harvester Travelall, the shag carpet, landline telephones being out of service, and YAASSSS! CB radios!

There is more than one mystery to be solved, and the slight paranormal/spiritual touch with the Native American angle piqued my interest and took the story in a fascinating direction. The central mystery really wasn't much of one for me; in a rare feat, I suspected whodunit and why very early on. Even so, Hutchins made me doubt my conclusion many times over and gives readers reason to be suspicious of many of the intriguing characters in Snake Oil. It's a thoroughly good time. There are several plots meandering around each other, sometimes crossing but often independent, and there are one too many timing coincidences, but they all add to developing the people and place of the series, and everything is nicely resolved by story's end.  I can't wait to see what comes next in Sawbones, the next installment in the series. 

ABOUT THE NARRATION: Absolutely no complaints, here. The book is narrated by the author, and she nails it. She knows her characters, of course, but she also has a talent for even pacing and delivery, clear diction, and subtle expression so that listeners can get absorbed in the story without being hung up on its delivery.

I picked up my print copy (and of course, got it autographed) at the 2020 Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend, but I was provided the audio copy from SkipJack Publishing in exchange for my honest opinion -- the only kind I give.


Click for Hall Ways Review

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