Reckoning and Ruin (Tai Randolph #5)

reckcover76846-mediumAuthor: Tina Whittle

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Rating: 4.5 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Novel in Series

Provided by Publisher


Blurb: Reckoning and Ruin. That’s what Savannah is to private eye Tai Randolph who’s gladly rebooted her life in Atlanta and is celebrating several landmarks. A year running the Confederate-themed gun shop she inherited with its busy schedule of reenactments. A year with her sexy, ex-SWAT-team lover Trey, now working a corporate security gig, who’s having to reboot his own life and brain after a terrible auto accident. A year of confronting a checkered list of ruffians and outright villains, mostly now put behind bars.

One of those convicted criminals is her cousin Jasper, whose disreputable family was a big part of Tai’s childhood in Savannah. Tai is determined to keep her amateur sleuthing in the past, not just for her sake, but for Trey’s. But here comes Jasper again, complete with a fancy, high-priced new lawyer and a scheme that will surely ruin Tai and Trey financially. But is there more? Jasper, the leader of a white militia splinter group too violent for even the Klan, must be up to something worse than wrecking Tai’s life. When other witnesses against Jasper start turning up dead, she decides she has to take him down once and for all. And act on her own, a strategy that high-adrenaline Tai has been working to modify in her life with Trey.

Soon she’s back in Savannah and deep in familiar troubles—a missing ex-boyfriend, a creepily poetic stalker, a passel of stolen money. She’s forced to confront old memories and older ghosts, including an uncomfortable reunion with her Uncle Boone, who’s keeping secrets he’d rather die with than reveal. Worst of all, her relationship with Trey starts to fray, and she realizes that chasing the truth might cost her the man she loves. Reckoning and Ruin is the fifth in an exquisitely crafted series filled with atmosphere, humor, deep emotional connections, and surprising plots.


Review: I didn’t know when I got this book that it was the fifth in the series, and I’m glad I didn’t. I was able to read it standalone, but I’ve really got a LOT of questions now. The emotional depths these characters have reached is obvious, and I’m just sad I missed it! I’m going to have to do some back reading…

Tai’s family has some ugly skeletons in the closet. It was obvious she’d had violent run-ins with her uncle and her cousins, Jefferson and Jasper, who were all affiliated with a KKK-type group. Jasper was currently rotting in jail, but even from there he was capable of causing trouble. At the beginning of the book, he’s just sent papers through a high-dollar attorney suing both her and her partner Trey for something that had happened in the last book. WTF?

That doesn’t even include her ex-boyfriend John and her strange stalker.

I felt a little out of my depth reading this, but I could tell it was a juicy story and even if I was reading it out of order, it was going to be good. Unfortunately, it seems that everyone in Tai’s life has been dragged into the mayhem with her family. Her partner Trey, who sustained a serious head injury in the past, is still trying to recuperate from a horrible accident. When it becomes apparent that Tai is going to have to deal with them again, she’s torn. Leaving Trey is hard–he really needs her. But he also does NOT need the craziness and danger that seem to surround every meeting with her family., and splitting herself in two doesn’t work. Anyone that has dealt with someone with special needs knows this dilemma, and I could really relate to the frustration Tai felt.

This story is really sort of a Southern gothic grotesque. There are a whole lot of stereotypes–it’s muddy, ugly and violent. There are people who have behavior that’s been ingrained in them from not only their parents but from their grandparents. I could sense the malevolence from the environment and the characterizations of the villains seemed spot on; overtly creepy, threatening and snake-like. It was amazing!!!!!!!!!! Reminds me of James Lee Burke somewhat, and that’s a compliment!

I really enjoyed the relationship between Tai and Trey, and I can’t wait to backread and find out about the old girlfriend. This series just grabbed me up and got me invested quickly and now I have questions too. Read it if you like to be sucked into a swamp of seething emotions, a mystery that’s hard to define and even harder to solve. Read it and get creeped out. Just READ IT!


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