On a beautiful April day, the seasons suspended between spring and summer, a woman in a bridal gown lies under a stand of oak trees, throat slit, ring finger missing. She’s the latest victim of the Wedding Crasher, a meticulous murderer who’s killed five women across three states without leaving a single clue. The last two bodies were found in Pickett County, Tennessee.
Samantha Tate is Pickett County’s new poker-playing, yoga-loving sheriff. A former Nashville homicide detective, she struggles with her inner demons. She’s got colleagues, but no real friends. Her bedtime companions are the nightmares that stem from a horrific childhood tragedy. Even after she assembles a multi-agency team, her impulse is to go it alone. To further complicate matters, she’s attracted to her case partner, FBI Special Agent Terry Sloan, even though she isn’t sure she trusts him.
Another body is discovered, in circumstances that closely resemble but don’t exactly match the earlier homicides. Is a second predator at work in Pickett County? Is the serial killer working with an acolyte? Why is Sam suddenly a target? And how can she stop the Wedding Crasher before another bride-to-be dies?
Author of six books, including the three-book Sam Tate Mystery Series (book four coming next fall). Alo the stand-along thriller, THE FORMER ASSASSIN and HOPE IN SMALL DOSES: Reasonable Happiness in Unreasonable Times
I love book clubs, Pilates, and dogs. I dislike the passage of time but it happens anyway
This was a new author for me, and I was glad I have this book a try. I love police procedurals and this fit the genre to a T.
A serial killer on the prowl leaving corpses behind under the trees dressed as a bride soon found Sheriff Sam Tate on the trail. She got her team ready with some help from FBI Agent Terry Sloan and went to town with the investigation.
My first book by author Nikki Stern, there were shocks well written at regular intervals which captured my interest and kept me prodding on to finish this book at a single sitting. Sam Tate had her own personal issues, something she had witnessed in childhood which had ripples to who she was at the moment. The chemistry between her and Terry played hide-n-seek in the book. It was fun to speculate.
Coming to the investigation, the story went into the depths of it and gave a detailed purview of how these cops worked. Their strength and determination surpassed their fatigue. Seasons passed and they were still hard at work with hardly any leads. My niggles too popped up when the mid-section floundered and went slow. But it soon perked up with a hint of a lead which broke the case wide open.
And never in my faintest moments, could I ever have guessed the killer. Absolutely a shocker. Overall, a great read over the afternoon.
Nikki Stern ticks a lot of my boxes in The Wedding Crasher with a female lead who is in law enforcement, a non-urban police procedural, a Southern setting. Small wonder, then, that I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. Speaking of the beginning, this one is in your face as we meet Sam Tate at a gruesome crime scene, no footdragging leading up to it, and that’s another one of my boxes.
Sam has her own issues from the past but she focuses on this string of brutal crimes with the help of Abdi Issen, her lead detective, and FBI agent Terry Sloan who’s been working these cases for several years. The first four murders happened once a year in the spring but then the killer skipped a year. Why? Is there a connection with a trauma from Sam’s past?
That trauma comes out in dribs and drabs but it helps us see how Sam’s core has grown and changed over the years, making her who she is today. This sort of thing can dampen my enthusiasm for a character because it’s often overdone but Ms. Stern handles this part of the story with finesse.
All in all, this is an intriguing look at a serial killer investigation with a lot of twists and turns, always a plus in crime fiction, and I’m looking forward to Sam’s next story.
The Wedding Crasher made me miss my commuter train stop twice this past week. The book kept me up and reading way past my bedtime. And author Nikki Stern is now on that very short list of authors whose books I automatically pre-order because I am so certain they will be that good. I’m talking about authors you see featured on amazon, the authors you look for at the airport or—for those of us fortunate enough to have such a thing—a local independent bookstore. With The Wedding Crasher, Stern joins the ranks of authors like Michael Connelly, Harlan Coban, Tana French and John Sandford, Writers who know how to grab you, hold you, keep you immersed while all the while entertaining you. No small trick.
The fun starts with the cover design of the book. Just take a look at the cover and try not to shudder.
From that cover image you get the blend of real beauty, scary evil and no small strain of creepy. An image that captures the spirit of the book. When somebody figures out that this book needs to be a movie, that cover –by the artist Diana Ani Stokely—will come up in the opening credits.
Turn the page and you are immediately breathing the warm air of a small town in Tennessee that serves as the center of the action. You meet Sheriff Sam Tate, the emotional center of the story and as Sherriff Tate’s search to solve a growing list of crimes unfolds, you become, in the hands of this immensely skilled writer, part of the action. You stay with the story as it builds, you marvel at the world weary Sheriff Tate finding her way, you read through twists and turns you did not see coming, till finally you reach the end of the story, let out a breath, close the book and say to yourself,
“Damn that was good. I wonder when the next one is coming out?”
In the spring a woman's body is found and dressed in a wedding dress. Her throat is slit and her ring finger is missing. This is the latest victim of The Wedding Crasher, who has killed 5 other women. Samantha Tate is the sheriff and she is attracted to an FBI agent who is there to help. Sam has a lot of issues which causes nightmares. FBI Agent Terry has relationship issues but is attracted to Sam. I really liked this book and I guess it is going to be a series. I like how Sam is the sheriff and working with mostly men and they all seem to respect her. I had an idea who the killer was or at least someone who is close to the killer. I wasn't far off. I am glad that I received this to read for review by Partners In Crime.
The Wedding Crasher is the kind of mystery that carries us along like a warm summer breeze ahead of a storm. We know bad things are brewing, but it feels good to lie back and watch as events unfold. The small town, country setting contributes to the relaxed vibe of the story. Life moves a little slower in Pickett County, which occasionally frustrates our main character but felt like a nice break to me.
Sam Tate is a great female lead. She's interesting, independent, and slightly damaged without being a needy, shattered mess.
I believe this is the first book in the series, though I felt more like it was book two or three, with some ambiguity regarding past and ongoing relationships.
The murders are intriguing, with the past and present intertwining. I expected the ending in the way you expect the unexpected.
The murder mystery is all wrapped up at the end, but we are left with an unresolved issue regarding one aspect of the story. While we can walk away knowing the whodunit, we're left with an itch we have to wait to scratch. I have a feeling Sam has trouble coming her way in the next book!
*I received a review copy as part of the Partners in Crime Book Tour.*
I enjoyed this novel with its good balance of character development and police procedure. I liked Sheriff Sam. She is a flawed heroine, troubled by memories of a multi-murder wedding event she witnessed as a child. Yet she perseveres through a difficult investigation, trying to uncover a serial murderer.
I did not like the way the dreams Sam had were presented. I felt a bit deceived as I read until the account was revealed as a dream. I would have rather had the childhood incident recounted another way, such as an identified flashback, or had the dream sequence identified by italics.
Other than that one area, I liked this novel. Readers who enjoy a strong heroine and a good investigation will like this one. I look forward to reading the next book in this series featuring Sam Tate.
I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review.
I really, really enjoyed The Wedding Crasher by Nikki Stern and was very happy this is the first in what I hope will be a long, satisfying series about Sam Tate. Stern is a master at telling a complicated story with multiple characters and plot lines across time and having it all make perfect sense and be easy to follow. There is enough detail about every character and event to fully engage you, and just enough left unsaid that you can’t wait for the next installment.
Samantha Tate is the new sheriff in Pickett County, Tennessee. It’s Small Town, USA, but it’s not Mayberry. There’s an edge and history and hidden motivation. And someone is killing brides – The Wedding Crasher, five women across three states, the last two in Sam’s county. When yet another bride is found killed in Pickett County and Sam herself becomes a target it’s non-stop action and danger from then on.
If a serial killer at large isn’t enough, we learn as the story unfolds that Sam isn’t a fan of brides or weddings and doesn’t believe in happily-ever-afters. She has no real friends, doesn’t play well with others, has horrible nightmares stemming from a terrible childhood tragedy and now doesn’t know who she can trust.
The Wedding Crasher is full of fine writing, well-developed characters and a plot that is logical, smooth and pulls you along at a fast-pace. It’s suspenseful with depth that promises more to come. It’s a police procedural in many ways but also a compelling story of people and relationships and love and betrayal. The setting and atmosphere completely complement the story. The ending is perfect – you’ll never see the culprit coming, and there are enough clues to entice you into future books.
I received a copy of The Wedding Crasher from the author in exchange for an honest review. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it. All opinions are my own.
I have known this author (online) for many years and have wanted to read at least one of her books before this year's end. Well, Nikki, I am hooked! I read this in one sitting (short a few chapters). After a good night's sleep, I woke up and finished it over morning coffee. The murder mystery, the love story, and (because I owned a bridal shop) the entire storyline created a perfect read for me. The shop owner is a great supporting character; loved the details about the gowns and the return of the 80's styles -- so true!
She is just one of many interesting characters contributing vital pieces to the puzzle concerning the identity of the Wedding Crasher. The mystery includes an intertwining of ritual and symbolism that is unique and memorable. I plan to read the next in this series as soon as I possibly can because the lead characters are intriguing.
Too often, modern fiction doesn't capture my attention well enough to finish the book. I have an online bookshelf of "will never finish books". Rarely (if ever) have I read a book of 300+ pages in a 24-hour time-span: The mystery is that compelling. I highly recommend The Wedding Crasher by Nikki Stern.
As in Ms. Stern’s first novel, The Former Assassin, the plot in The Wedding Crasher is suspenseful, the descriptions vivid, the characters fascinating and the main character is a strong, smart, complicated woman. In this book, it is Samantha Tate, the sheriff of a small town in Tennessee where young women, future brides, are being murdered. Sam Tate not only faces the challenge of having to find the murderer, but has to try to come to terms with her own troubled past. The story is engaging and will hold your attention to the last page. You really feel like you get to know the characters ... their strengths and their weaknesses. I am very much looking forward to reading more Sam Tate stories and highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.
In The Wedding Crasher, author Nikki Stern weaves a riveting mystery/police procedural tale that follows Pickett County, Tennessee Sheriff Samantha Tate and FBI Special Agent Terry Sloan as they investigate the serial murders of brides-to-be by a serial killer dubbed the Wedding Crasher.
Author Nikki Stern provides a multi-layered storyline that has enough mystery, suspense, drama, treachery, secrets, dark traumatic pasts, and intriguing twists and turns that keeps the reader guessing, while weaving an intricate and complicated web of what the motive of the bridal ritual murders could have been, and the spectrum of possible participants who could have been involved in committing them. And if that isn't enough to captivate the reader, the author adds a wonderful touch of humor, wit, grit, and a bit of a complicated deep connection and star-crossed romance between two broken people, Sam and Terry, into the mix to keep them entertained.
The Wedding Crasher is an exciting mystery story intertwined with enough police procedural aspects and realistic characters; witty dialogue and interactions; and rich descriptions of the setting that transports the reader to Byrdstown, Tennessee and Miami, Florida. This fascinating multi-layered storyline draws the reader into the interconnection between Sam and Terry and the slow revelation of their traumatic pasts, while they engage in a frustrating cat-n-mouse game with the Wedding Crasher serial killer, until the pieces of the serial murder investigation puzzle comes together and is dramatically solved. But alas, just when you think Sam and Terry's investigative adventure is over, the author leaves the reader with a cliffhanger ending that will keep them in limbo until Bird In Hand, the second book in the Sam Tate Mystery Series is published in 2020.
The Wedding Crasher is the kind of mystery that easily keeps the reader captivated, guessing, on their toes, and wanting more!
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.
Nikki Stern’s The Wedding Crasher has a heroine who reminds me of a hawk. She hovers endlessly and the book takes place over several years, but then all at once she swoops down and catches her prey. Because of the long time frame, the book’s pace is relatively leisurely, but there is enough action and intrigue to carry the story over the years it plays out. I don’t mind when mysteries create a sense of unreasonable speed in justice – for example having lab results return overnight instead of in weeks which is more realistic – but I can see why Ms. Stern might have chosen to be more realistic about the slow arm of the law.
I got the feeling this was a book that was part of a series, or at least that the characters had a history. Sheriff Tate and the FBI agent seem to have feelings for each other – or do they? The romance could have been better developed, since their feelings came off as tepid at best. It wasn’t clear what was even holding them together since there seemed to be no chemistry between them. Perhaps there is a former book in the series that explains their affair where they seem better suited to each other.
There is a trope about mystery novels that stipulates the murderer is always the one you least expect. You can see why this might be the case – it’s because the author wants to keep the reader guessing until the end. On the other hand, sometimes the trope steps into the realm of implausibility because the murderer is someone totally unlikely. I did feel like the solution in The Wedding Crasher was far-fetched, which made it less satisfying. I guess I’d prefer more predictability, because I would still have to read to find out if I’m right.
I liked The Wedding Crasher. It was a good read and I found myself itching to return to it when I had to stop due to real life interference. That’s no small feat in a book. Overall, I give it four stars, subtracting one for the minor issues discussed above. They are minor issues, because the book is eminently readable and enjoyable. Don’t hesitate to pick up your copy today!
Murdered young women, a serial killer with a penchant for wedding dresses and who kills annually, a frustrated female sheriff carrying way too much baggage and drinking too much, an FBI agent haunted by his own past, and a stunning plot twist mesh together to make The Wedding Crasher a suspense-filled ride… and an excellent read!
Sheriff Samantha Tate’s worst fears are realized when a murdered young woman is found in the woods, laid out under trees… in a wedding dress and missing her ring finger.
She’s victim number five, and the second in Sam’s county since she became sheriff.
The new investigation brings the Wedding Crasher task force together… again, and FBI Agent Terry Sloan back into Sam’s life, and thoughts.
Sam Tate is a great, edgy character, flawed to the hilt. But despite the death of her fiancé and her own traumatic connections to weddings, she’s a top of the line sheriff and investigator. Sam’s a woman walking in the footsteps of the last sheriff in a southern town full of powerful good old boys who consider her little more than a mere annoyance.
That’s a mistake.
The Crasher investigation stalls to a standstill again, but Sam’s got her hands full with – someone taking shots at her outside her home and her nightmares growing more intense. What can’t she remember from twenty-five years ago? Her therapist is being blackmailed, then she disappears. Two more local women are murdered—one a Pickett County deputy—and Sam has far too many suspects for these unrelated Crasher murders. Or are they?
Detective Abdi Issen is a great supporting character, and though she only appears briefly, Sam’s landlady, Cora Granville, is a hoot!
The Wedding Crasher more than delivers an unpredictable plot for suspense and thriller readers, and the twists and turns will keep conspiracy lovers on the edge of their seats. Even women’s fiction readers will find Sam’s story unputdownable.
And that ending? Yeah… I’m ready for the next book!
– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog (https://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com/) is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. I’m grateful of receiving a free copy from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review of this book. –
‘The Wedding Crasher’ by Nikki Stern is the first book in a series around Sam Tate and although it started rather intriguing I soon got the feeling I got it wrong about this being book one. I even went to check the internet a couple of times as I couldn’t believe that the dynamics between the characters I was reading about were first-time. It was like they were all great friends with a lot of history and I was a stranger who couldn’t find her way in. I’m even afraid it kept on lingering during the whole book, which is a bit of a letdown in my opinion. This said however, I thought it was a good police procedural kind of book. A couple of murders and some twists and turns to obscure the real murderer and also enough intriguing information to get you wondering for the next installment. I can’t really say much more as there were no plotholes, lovely characters, enough going-ons and a fine teaser at the end that leaves you wanting for more. So a nice start of a new mystery series, with perhaps some room for improvement!
This is the first book I have read from this author. I enjoyed this book a lot. The characters were great and the storyline was good.
Samantha has many layers. I like that she was "damaged". It showed that she was not "perfect" and human. She was relatable. It is because of her past that I believe it helps her with her job. Then there is Terry. He is the love interest to Sam. I like that the storyline was light on the romance. For this story, it works better that the romance was light and not heavy with it as to distract from the overall vibe of the storyline.
The pacing of the story was very good. It kept moving along at a steady pace with no downtime. Also, can I just take a moment to talk about the ending. It is where the intensity ramped up again. It ends with a bit of a cliffhanger. I can't wait to read the next book and see how Sam and Terry's relationship is progressing as well as see Sam in action again. The only "crashing" happening is when you finish this book after pulling an all nightery reading it!
The Wedding Crasher begins immediately with the discovery of the body, a woman is found under a white oak, with a fairly dated wedding dress. Sheriff Samantha Tate knows that the “wedding crasher” is back. He didn��t make many casualties, “only” five, in Florida, in Georgia and then in Tennessee, but this is the second murder in the area and Samantha wants to solve the case.
With Samantha, Special agent Terry Sloan investigates, out of Tampa FBI that during the first investigation seems to have approached the new sheriff a little too much only then to return to Florida when the case became cold. Will they be able to solve it together? And what is hiding in Samantha’s past?
Wow! I must say that Samantha’s past intrigues me a lot. The book starts a little slow even though we are at the crime scene right away and I liked it a lot. The fact of starting immediately as if to say “let’s get right to the facts and let’s not get lost in useless things” (thank you very much, lately I am reading books that are too long on facts that have nothing to do with the story just to write more pages) I really like it.
The chapters are short which is a plus and after a third of the book the facts follow one another with a speed that I like and so I started to appreciate it more (meaning that I didn’t want to stop reading to understand how it ended, which didn’t occurre at the beginning).
I really like the author’s style, as I said, it presents short chapters that you can read quickly, so it makes you want to read more (in my opinion, of course) and I like that the book is divided in four seasons even if, at first, I didn’t understand why, well, I still don’t understand it because there is just one page with only the name of the season on it, but I do understand why the story lasts a year.
The killer surprised me and I have to say that the last chapters, from his discovery to his capture, I read them all in one breath and it is the speed that I like.
At the beginning of this review I had two questions but right now I only remember one… (Laura why you never write down what you think??), but I probably can’t give an answer because I was distracted… It seems to me that the killer missed a year of killing, but I can’t find an answer in the book about why. Now, I don’t know if I invented it myself, if I don’t remember it correctly or if it’s really so, but I can’t find an answer. Does anyone remember?
I also like that the book takes place in Tennessee because it is a state in which I never went with my readings, which will change in the next book (at least from what was said in this), but it doesn’t matter. At least I visited this place once.
As I said I like the mystery about the shooting in which Samantha was a victim, I like that Terry is interested and I like that they are going to start a journey together and therefore I really hope to find both in the next book that I will surely read.
Thanks Partners In Crime and Nikki Stern for my book copy.
Received as a Goodreads giveaway - The premise is great and I loved that they were realistic with the timeframe and having multiple investigations going at a time instead of pretending law enforcement works one case at a time.
I must say, in Chapter 4 when they are describing Mercy, I find it hurtful and disgusting that, amongst qualities like her being strong and confident, the author finds it necessary to sexualize her. No other part of that section is about Mercy's sexuality. This is such a cheap decision that set the tone for how I would feel about the character describing her for the remainder of th book.
There were quite a few times the dialogue was hyper unrealistic. A senior in high school who's planning to lose get virginity would never say "Daddy, don't tease Mommy" and she wouldn't refer to losing her virginity as her deflowering. Also, some choices, especially a major one in Chapter 37 would NEVER occur. Lastly, Sam would never have allowed the interaction in Chapter 39 to occur, it's not in her nature.
The Wedding Crasher is sharp and intriguing. Sheriff Sam Tate is fab, she's strong, capable and a survivor of a horrific past.....she's likeable and relatable. I found myself rooting for her, not only professionally but on a romantic level......you notice the undercurrent of attraction with Terry.
This well written mystery is full of surprises, twists, turns, romance and a dash of suspense. There's lots of information and subtle clues that cheekily flirt with you and have you questioning many things and people.....I had a ridiculous suspect list!
Read with a light on, beware sassy mature women, treat yourself to a box of chocolates or just a cuppa.....above all be excited because Sam Tate is going to return!! I love it when a great character gets a series.
Although it looks like the story is wrapped up the epilogue sneaks in a cheeky cliffhanger.
My first read by Nikki Stern, and I don't think it will be my last. The Wedding Crasher follows Sam, who has a past to deal with but is focusing on a string of brutal crimes with the help of her lead detective, Abdi Issen and FBI agent Terry Sloan.
This is an immersive police procedural. From the beginning, we are taken on a crazy ride with Sam, and I would never call this novel slow. I was intrigued following the investigation of a serial killer, and there were a ton of twists and turns.
I highly recommend checking this one out if you enjoy fast-paced, crime fiction, with well-written characters and overall entertaining plot. I'm looking forward to reading more from Nikki Stern.
*I received a copy of this book as part of a blog tour with Partners In Crime Book Tours. All opinions are my own.*
On August 29, 2020, I received the kindle book The Wedding Crasher (A Sam Tate Mystery) by Nikki Stern for free through Goodreads First Reads. I love new mystery series. I waited to start reading until the next week since I wanted to be able to read it as much as I wanted over the weekend if needed. It was not one of those books you read and cannot put down; however, it was a very good book. The book held my interest, but it had a lot of characters for a first novel that I had to keep track of who they were and how they were part of the mystery. Wow what a finish to this book, I will not give any spoilers; however, I had already figured out part of the serial killer part but not the other part. I am also so interested in what happens next to Sam and Terry, also exactly what happened at her brother’s wedding. I look forward to reading the second book in the series.
Author Nikki Stern creates one of the most authentic female main characters in Sheriff Sam Tate in her new title, The Wedding Crasher. Accomplished and beautiful? Absolutely! Focused and Resolute? Of course! Mentally and emotionally healthy? Not so much.
Stern demonstrates her well-developed ability to tell a story by weaving relationships among the myriad of characters without once giving away the culprit in this compelling murder mystery. And the unexpected cliff-hanging ending leaves the reader yearning for the next book about the complicated sheriff’s journey.
Needed some light, entertaining reading during this time. A friend recommended this book. At the same time, I picked up the follow up Bird in Hand.
The review of both is basically the same. I like the strong, smart protagonist female lieutenant. The mystery is interesting and not what you expect. I like the process of solving the crime. But then it all just comes together neatly in half a chapter. It is like the author got to a certain point, and then said "Oh, got to tie up all the loose ends now and end the book."
The Wedding Crasher is a page turner that will keep you guessing down to the last chapter with its well drawn cast of small town characters and enigmatic female detective, Sam Tate. Stern explores the psychology of the killer without tipping her hand - a difficult balancing act that keeps the suspense going beautifully. A thoroughly enjoyable summer read!
The action starts quick and we Geri to the investigation. While the investigation takes a long time in story, the murder is the point of the book. We don’t veer off into side plots and extra world building. It’s a tight to the point mystery. The killer was not easy forecasted, actually that bothered me when it came to Emily.
I won this book in a giveaway, and for a free book it was great! I enjoyed the writing style, and felt the story read like an investigative discovery series. (I love those!) I did feel like it was a little long and the romantic tension could have followed through a bit more (but it is a series). It’s not a must read, but it was enjoyable!
This was a boring excuse of a ''crime'' drama. There were too many layers of confusion, material that was obtuse and pointless. The plot was never fully developed and the characters were weak and transparent. This was a waste of my time and I do not advise anyone to read this.
I loved this book and will definitely look for more in this series and by this author. The one thing I hate to see is Sam leave Tennessee. I live in middle Tennessee and really enjoyed the references to places that I have heard of and am familiar with. I’m on to look for the next book.
i won this in a Goodreads giveaway, gorgeous book cover. i am new to Nikki's writing ... i love a good mystery ... book 1 in a 2 book series so far??! i wanna read more asap. pulls ya in ... very cool.