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Straight River (Matt Lanier, #1)

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  32 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Award-winning author Chris Norbury's latest novel, STRAIGHT RIVER, is a fast-paced, tension-building story set during the emotional and financial aftermath of the Great Recession.

Two mysterious deaths compel Matt Lanier, a professional musician by trade, into a search for the killer. With no superhero skills other than his brilliant musical mind and razor-sharp hearing, La
Paperback, 300 pages
Published February 5th 2019 by
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Julie Holmes
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This introduction to professional musician Matt Lanier is a wild ride of a thrilling mystery! The story starts with Matt returning to his hometown after years away to settle his estranged father's estate. Reunions with childhood friends and neighbors turn into suspicious happenings. Matt starts digging into the mysterious circumstances of not only his father's death, but the death of a well-known neighbor. What starts as a favor to save a farm turns into an intricate web of deception and land-gr ...more
Sue Shipley
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book from the author at a book fair in Minnesota. Loved recognizing all the local area references. Norbury uses lots of musical examples for voices and sounds, a different approach.
Matt has to return to his hometown when his father is found dead in the silo. He reconnects with his childhood friends and commences searching for answers to his father's and a neighbors deaths.

The story bogs down some in the middle but picks us with some fast and violent action.

At first I didn't like t
Carol Jensen
Mar 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
A solid crime novel about a good guy that keeps getting a raw deal, but that doesn't stop him from righting a wrong that is seeping into his county and affecting him and his neighbors. I want to tell you more about the story, but I don't want to spoil it. Let's just say, for the local Minnesotans, you will recognize lots of locations in the book. For the rest, this story had a couple of unique hooks. **** 3/19/2020 ...more
Laurie Buchanan
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was gripped by STRAIGHT RIVER: a Matt Lanier Novel by Chris Norbury. This well-told story has a compelling and brilliant plot line. Engaging and twisty (there were several places where "I didn't see that coming!") — this book is a page-turner that kept me up well into the night. I highly recommend this book! ...more
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm not the best judge of the mystery genre but I did like Straight River. Credit the author with writing about a land acquisition scheme that is way out there but he makes it work. I could just picture the farm sites near I35W south of the Twin Cities in what I believe is meant to be my hometown of Owatonna, Minnesota. It's fun to recognize other familiar landmarks. Lanier is a musician and not skilled at investigation; in his own words, he "improvises." The book is fast paced with a lot of act ...more
Chris Norbury
Feb 23, 2019 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
*I won't give a star rating or comment on the quality because I can't possibly give an unbiased review, be it positive or negative.*

It's really hard to review my own book because I can't read it with a fresh perspective and can't be surprised by the plot twists and turns. Nor can I become enamored by, or charmed by, or disgusted with, a character because I spent so many hours and words developing that plot point or those character traits.

The only positive comment I will make is that reading Stra
Feb 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well-written action/suspense story with outstandingly crafted characters. The heart of the story is the relationships between Matt Lanier – a professional bass player and reluctant hero – and his boyhood friends from a small Minnesota town (Straight River). His ex-wife is also drawn into the mystery and his aching desire to reunite with her gives the narrative extra emotional weight. The plot includes several unexpected and poignant twists and is not at all conventional or predictable. ...more
Bruce Perrin
Apr 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
An Amateur Sleuth with a Musical Ear Faces a Not-So-Subtle Conspiracy

The protagonist of this novel, Matt Lanier, is a musician. He’s always humming a tune or drawing parallels between his situation and the lyrics of a song. And when he’s reluctantly pressed into a murder/conspiracy investigation, he leverages this talent to find clues to the truth in the timber and tone of voice of the people he meets. That’s not an ability I’ve seen other amateur sleuths leverage and one of the reasons I enjoye
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
An exciting and surprising page turner. I found the setting and central characters so refreshing and unexpected. I was hooked from the very first page. Matt Lanier grew up the son of a Minnesota farmer, but left the farm, moved to Minneapolis, and became a musician. You don’t often find a musician at the center of a mystery and the way he relates to the world has huge impact on how he navigates the danger he finds himself in. I thought all the characters were very well drawn and I was with Matt ...more
Mar 13, 2021 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Larry F Sommers
Nov 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Matt Lanier, musician-turned-crime cover, sparks the action in this suspenseful thriller set Up North in Minnesota. I can't wait to read the next one. ...more
Dawn Campbell
Apr 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
At first, I was more interested in how the setting was handled - in what is clearly a renaming of my hometown to Straight River, it was nice to revisit the old places from Lanier's perspective of someone who was returning from a long absence. I also enjoyed getting to travel to the BWCA and other places that are familiar. As the plot picked up, I found that I couldn't put the book down. There were a couple notable twists that were quite unexpected. ...more
Tony Parsons
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Straight River, MN (600 acres). Jack (old black Lab) was barking to high heaven.
Ray Lanier (70, widower/father, retired USMC) went down stairs armed & someone had thrown a rock through the window again.
Several yrs. ago the Great Recession wreaked havoc on everyone/everything.

Wayne Hibbert (Hibbert Realty real estate agent) was using high pressured sales pitch to by other PPL’s land/farms.
Matt Lanier (son, jazz musician, BA; music), & the group had been on tour at the Dakota Jazz Club (Min
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It was a treat to read Chris Norbury’s novel Straight River. It is a mystery that holds your attention as the plot unfolds throughout the book.

Matt Lanier comes home after his father is found dead in a farming accident. Things hadn’t been good with their relationship and Matt feels guilt that perhaps his father’s death could have prevented had he listened to the message from his father and returned his call.

It is easy as a reader to identify with Matt as he ponders the fate of his father and sor
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chris Norbury has shown tremendous growth as a writer in STRAIGHT RIVER. This novel is just as much of an "adrenaline pumper" as CASTLE DANGER was but the action is faster and the plot development more polished. It was very difficult to put this book down as the sequence of events was structured in such a way that this reader wanted to continually find out what would happen next. As with CASTLE DANGER I only read it during the day because I feared that I would get too involved in the book to wan ...more
Valerie Biel
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Norbury pens an extremely suspenseful, hard-to-put-down thriller in this prequel to “Castle Danger.” The author hooks the reader with intrigue from the early pages and never lets go. Growing up in Midwest farm country, I could see my neighbors (and relatives) in many of these characters—likable, quirky, and with their own set of faults which make them feel very real. I seriously stayed up until 2 am to finish this book. The suspense level was off the charts. Norbury handles the twists and turns ...more
John Stanley
Jun 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Not a bad book although somewhat “cliche-ish” in the since of good guys and bad guys. But it’s a good enough story and it does provide the back-story behind the storyline of his first book (written), “Castle Danger.” The character development is, once again, pretty good and the action is very good. But, all in all, I just came away feeling that it wasn’t really anything special. If I could give half-star ratings I suppose that I’d give it 3 1/2 rather than 3 stars but I just didn’t think it was ...more
Fay Wallin
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Great prequel to Castle Danger... I was not disappointed with Straight River it was an exciting read and filled in the time period and events that led Matt Lanier to Castle Danger. This book was a page turner and the story line and characters intertwined so well! I will absolutely encourage my friends and readers to get Chris' books, they are hard to put down once started! Will be waiting for the sequel to both these books when it hits the shelves ...more
John Loch
I thoroughly enjoyed Straight River. I previously had read Castle Danger and enjoyed that also. My only wish is that I would have read Straight River first because it would have greatly enhanced Castle Danger. Great plot, great writing, lots of suspense and very believable. Can't wait for the third installment. ...more
Stacy Underwood
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love books set in my home state of MN and Straight River did not disappoint. It is a fast read - I read it in 3 days on a beach vacation because I just had to know how it ended! Normally I leave books at the resort book exchange - not this time. I brought it home to read again. Interesting and gripping! Loved it and have shared it with friends.
Allan Schwartz
I have to say that Straight River is exciting and well-written. Having read a number of suspense novels, one tries to anticipate twists and turns with the characters and the situations that they are in. Straight River provided a lot of jaw-dropping and wows as the suspense was built. Looking forward to reading Matt Lanier #3!
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
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Making Connections: 5453. - STRAIGHT RIVER (Matt Lanier, #1) by Chris Norbury 10 27 Jun 15, 2019 08:00AM  

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Chris Norbury is the award-winning author of the mystery-suspense-thrillers Straight River and Castle Danger, the first two novels of a planned series. The stories feature Matt Lanier, a southern Minnesota farm-kid-turned-professional-musician whose middle-class world is turned upside down by a conspiracy of powerful, ambitious, violent men.

He grew up in the Twin Cities and earned a B.S. in Music

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