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A Life for a Life

(Appalachian Mountain Mysteries #1)

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  925 ratings  ·  89 reviews
When the sheriff takes the easy way out and declares the death a suicide, Della teams up with her new friends and neighbors to get at the truth. As they travel through Western North Carolina, they encounter a fascinating cast of characters, including the best one of all—the lush natural setting of the mountains.

Will they find the killer before they become the next victims?
Paperback, 331 pages
Published September 2016 by Lynda McDaniel Books (first published August 25th 2016)
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Average rating 4.37  · 
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 ·  925 ratings  ·  89 reviews

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Reading my Appalachian books I came across this and tucked right in. A mystery? Yes!

Virginia...the next state over from here? Yes!

Expletives, foul language, sexual content. Nope.

Not for me.
Laura Thomas
Nov 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There’s nothing I love more in a mystery than a mixed bag of characters. They need to read as genuine, make mistakes, be flawed, and I don’t necessarily need to like them. They ned to evoke an emotional response from me.

I also need the author to hide bread crumbs throughout her tale, keeping me busy sniffing them out, and leading me down blind alleys.

I got all of that and then some. Just loved this book. The setting was fascinating. And the descriptions of the area were quite visual. I also drew
Kathleen Kelly
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reporter, Della Kincaid, has decided to move from Washington, D.C to Laurel Falls, N.C for a simpler life. While walking in the woods she is surprised when a man runs past her saying that "there was a body". Della and her dog do come across a body of a young woman, a supposed suicide. Della does not believe this, in spite of the suicide note.

Della enlists the help of numerous people in the community and Washington as it becomes apparent that the sheriff won't do anything to investigate the death
Nov 26, 2016 rated it liked it

What a delightful book. I felt like I was being taken back in time when things were a lot slower and less hectic. The characters are so real and it is wonderful to see how Aibt grows into a young man with the help of Della, a store owner in a small town of North Carolina. Along the way we meet the people who live in the small town and learn about their lives. This is a slow paced mystery but it was a satisfying read. Not a page-turner though. A 3.5 star.
Jewels Emily
Jun 05, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came across this book on book funnel and I am so glad I decided to give it a chance.

Lynda McDaniel's writing is simplistic, yet she has the ability to suck you into the story in a way that keeps you reading long after you should be in bed. I read this book in two sittings and when I wasn't reading it I was thinking about it constantly, I couldn't wait to dive back into the story.

I grew up in a small town, and still live in a small town. Laurel Falls reminds me so much of where I grew up. I l
Sharon Grow
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Della Kincaid and her dog Jake, find the body of young woman in the woods surrounding her home in Laurel Falls, North Carolina. The woman is unknown to the members of the small town and the sheriff is sure that the woman committed suicide. Della and her friends are not so sure. Della, who now owns the local store, was once a reporter in Washington D.C. and is determined to find out what happened to the woman, even asking for help from her ex-husband, Alex. Della befriends a young man with learni ...more
Patricia Romero
I enjoyed this more as I got into the story. I do hope we see more of the charactrs. The only thing that irked me was Alex. You divorced him for a reason and I do not understand that dynamic.
Disclaimer: I received a download of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway to facilitate writing this review. No other compensation was requested or offered.

There’s big doings down to Coburn’s Country Store. The new owner, Della Kincaid, used to be a big-city reporter in Washington, D.C. She’s fixed the place up nice, settling into life in this rural North Carolina community, and taken a sisterly interest in Abit, the learning-challenged boy who lives next door. She enjoys walks in the mountain
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is the most satisfying mystery I have read in ages. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The characters are the strongest aspect of this novel and they are delightful. Della Kinkaid bought a small grocery store in rural Applachia, making a new life for herself. She'd been a high profile reporter in Washington, D.C. but had had enough of the pressure and danger. When the body of a young woman is found in the woods, Della revives her reporter instincts and will not let the murder go unsolved.

My favorite
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Much as I loved the mystery side of it, what I particularly loved about it was the special relationship between the two main characters.

There are two narrators, recounting an event from some twenty years previously. One is Della, an ex reporter who decides to give up the pressure of her Washington job and settles for country life in the Appalachian countryside. The other is Abit. Unusual name? Yes. But I won't spoil it for you! Abit is a young teenager who is best d
Kevin Keith
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
The first of (so far) three books about an unlikely duo caught up in the local mysteries that pop up in a mountain hamlet in rural North Carolina, "A Life for a Life" introduces the fish-out-of-water investigator and her equally outsider sidekick, along with what will obviously be the recurring cast of colorful local yokels and flamboyant big-city contacts. The story gives us a sense of each of their characters, and the slightly awkward friendship that develops between the two protagonists. Alon ...more
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A Life for a Life: Lynda McDaniel

Stereotyping people is wrong and even misdiagnosing a student or older person because they appear to you on the surface to be mentally challenged or slow is not always the case. When the book opens we meet ABT a young man who befriended the other voice heard throughout this novel. Her name is Della and she too has a difficult past as this young man finds himself sitting outside of her store everyday a murder is committed in the woods not far away as Della and her
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I very rarely read books that are straight mysteries. The mysteries that I read have thriller and/or psychological elements in them. To be honest, I was getting a tad bored reading them. So when I got the invite to review A Life for a Life and read the synopsis, I decided that I needed a change. I am glad that I decided to read this book. It was a well-written mystery that kept me guessing to the end.

The plotline for A Life for a Life was very simple. Della, a former reporter now running a count
Rita Kroon
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Della Kinkaid escapes to the rural mountains of NC in order to flee the hassles as a reporter in D.C. It didn't work. She discovers the body of a young woman deep in the woods, and Della gets embroiled in the investigation. The lazy sheriff says suicide, Kinkaid says murder. Without her usual resources for chasing down the truth, Kinkaid turns to an offbeat cast of characters - an elderly friend Cleva, her ex-husband Alex, and next-door neighbor, Abit, a challenged teenage boy who's spent his en ...more
Julie Failla Earhart
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
In this first book in the Appalachian Mountain mystery series, readers are introduced to Della Kincaid and Abit.

Della has left Washington, D.C., looking for a new start. She spotted a for sale sign on a boarded up store as she took the long way back to D.C. after a week’s vacation in the Black Mountains. A former investigative reporter and newly divorced, Della was looking for a quiet, more predictable life.

At first, the local townspeople weren’t too keen on the new arrival, with the exception
Ana Manwaring
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lynda McDaniel’s cozy mystery, A Life for a Life, is one of the most satisfying books I’ve read this year. Everything about the book delighted me. I want to know more about the quirky folks in the North Carolina mountains and their southern customs.

The story is a cloze puzzle with protagonists Della, a former high-profile Washington D.C. journalist, and Abit, a somewhat “slow” fifteen-year-old local, meting out information in chapters of alternating points of view. The book commences with a pro
Dec 07, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has so many dimensions to it, with multiple stories masterfully woven together. The protagonist, Della, has escaped from Washington, DC for a new life in the North Carolina mountains where she hopes to find peace and tranquility. She needs something to challenge her, though, and purchases a run-down general store and breathes new life into it with renovations. The problem is that even though she is providing a much-needed and valuable service to the community, her efforts are not rewar ...more
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
A quiet, flowing mystery that reflects the slower, gentler pace of the South that we all imagine. McDaniel has a very thoughtful style that allows for a division of perspectives leading to little confusion or “catch up” effort on the part of the reader. Sometimes authors become so enamored with their narrative divisions and games that they forget that the reader does not live in their headspace with them. This writer is very aware of her readership and the plotline progresses along a very logica ...more
Wall-to-wall books - wendy
Very nice little mystery! The whole story had a very authentic feel to it. The story flips back and forth between the point of view of Abit, a fifteen yr old who is a bit delayed, and Della, a woman who runs the local general store, former reporter. I really like books that do this. I have to say this is probably my favorite way for a book to be written. I like getting inside the mind of two different characters.

I loved the dialog and conversations. All the characters were so real feeling. I rea
Charles Ray
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
After a messy divorce, DC writer Della Kincaid moved to Laurel Falls, NC and bought a failing general store. With the help of the former owner’s developmentally challenged son, Vester ‘Abit’ Bradshaw, she gets it up and running, and is beginning to slowly become an almost accepted part of the community. Then, while out walking one day, she finds the body of a young woman and her world starts to come apart at the seams. The sheriff calls it suicide, but she’s not so sure. When she and Abit start ...more
Garth Mailman
Appalachian Series 1

Della takes over a local general store its former owners failed to make a go of and with it acquires Abit, the former owner’s slow son who sits in a repaired wicker chair out front and minds the store, so to speak.

The central mystery of the piece is a body she encounters when she goes for a walk in the woods. The local sheriff takes the lazy man’s route and closes the case without much investigation. Wife beating is just business as usual, the way it’s always been.

Being the
Deb Wade
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, set in the Appalachian mountain ranges and told from the viewpoint of two characters. Bella, new to the area and trying to make a go of owning a country store and Abit, a young local man with learning difficulties who has been pulled from school and who is given some work by Bella.

Bella discovers a dead body and, although the local sherif is determined to write it off as a suicide, feels determined to solve the murder. This slow boiler is delightfully filled with
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book about people in the Appalachian mountains. Della wanted to move out of her town and ended up in this little town called Laurel Falls She bought a little grocery store from the owners who lived next door. They had a son who liked to sit on the stores porch all the time . His dad called him Abit cause he was abit slow. His dad took him out of school when he was young yet. Abit ended up helping Della at the store do things for her. Della finds a girl dead and the sheriff said it ...more
Laura Ruetz
Nov 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes a book comes along and the characters just feel as if you have known them forever and when you get to the last page, you actually feel sad. That is exactly how I felt when I finished this book. This is a mystery, but the character driven story here will both endear you and tug at your heart. The dynamic between Della, the store owner and seen as the outsider, and Abit, the young local boy who is seen as an outsider just for being slower - is a driving force in the story and one of the ...more
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the story about a reporter from Washington DC who leaves a broken marriage and threats. As she’s driving through the Laurel Falls she sees a for sale sign on a struggling store and stops. What happens next? Della and her dog Jake find a body in the woods and the Sherriff says it’s suicide. Della disagrees so she decides to investigate. Without her usual reporter resources she enlists the help of some of her new friends, a neighbour everyone calls Abit, an elderly woman named Cleva and ev ...more
Anne D
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of Lynda McDaniels book "A Life For A Life" from Voracious Readers Only in return for amnesty review of the book.

This book is a good mystery which is told through the voices of the two main characters Abit and Della. It flips back and forth and we are given a clear picture of the small town and the mystery they face.

I enjoyed how this book described how a rural town deals with the death of a stranger and a new person moving into the town. This book is a quick read with a unlike
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It gives a welcoming insight in to life in rural Appalachia, such great writing and details allow you to picture yourself among the townsfolk and inside the country store. The two main characters are very likable, especially Abit who I found myself championing for through the whole story. The murder mystery definitely kept me intrigued with a few turns along the way. A great quick read.

I received a download of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. My review is
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There was something extremely special about this book and, for me, it wasn't the mystery. What it was struck me from the first paragraph I read bout Abit. The growing relationship between this young man and the adults who were not an original part of his community was so important and showed how we accept what we learn from the life we grow up in and that allows us to accept less than who we really are. The interaction was unique and it left me looking for more Thank you to an excellent author. ...more
Patricia Zashkoff
I give this book 5 stars because it starts off with a dead girl in the woods and ends up keeping me engrossed until the end. I love Della, who moved from Washington DC to a small town in N. Carolina. She was a reporter and just got divorced, so she really needed a change. She buys the general store in town and hopes to make friends with her neighbors and peace with herself. The story is a true mystery with some twists and turns. It held my interest throughout. I highly recommend this book.
Cathy Scott
Feb 24, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book by author Lynda McDaniel. I want to go on a road trip to ‘Laurel Falls, NC. I want to meet up with these characters and sit down on the porch of the general store and have a chat. I really like the characters and the way this story was written. Great job! Next book I will read is the prequel “Waiting For You”
I have finished the prequel “Waiting For You”. Another great read, it was really good to see how these characters were in the past and what circumstances brought them together.
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I love writing page-turners--both fiction and non-fiction. And I love helping others to do the same, living into their dreams of writing books. I believe my success comes down to a respect for my readers. I know I am easily bored, so I work hard to engage and inspire my readers.

I got my start as a writer in the most unlikely place--a town of 200 people in the mountains of North Carolina. But livin

Other books in the series

Appalachian Mountain Mysteries (5 books)
  • The Roads to Damascus (Appalachian Mountain Mysteries #2)
  • Welcome the Little Children (Appalachian Mountain Mysteries #3)
  • Murder Ballad Blues (Appalachian Mountain Mysteries #4)
  • Deep in the Forest (Appalachian Mountain Mysteries #5)

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