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Strangers' Kingdom

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Politically blacklisted detective Luke Campbell's last chance in law-enforcement is a job with the police department of rural Granton, Vermont. It's a beautiful town, home to a beautiful, intriguing girl who's caught his eye, and it's a chance at redemption. Even if his new boss seems strange, secretive, and vaguely sinister, Campbell is willing to give this opportunity a shot. And no sooner does he make that decision than the first in a series of murders is discovered, starting a chain of events that will change the lives of everyone in this once-quiet town.
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Brandon Barrows

108 books71 followers

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5 stars
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7 (28%)
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Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews
17 reviews1 follower
May 2, 2022
A Challenging Detective Novel With Inspiring Themes

I thoroughly loved the lead character, Luke Campbell and his struggle to attain a reliable reputation in his new home of Vermont. Being a big city police officer puts him at odd with much of the small town vibe and personalities.
Not least of which being the chief of the local police department who has a somewhat abnormal approach to how he applies rules and procedures. When Luke finds himself at odds with this locally powerful man and most in the Vermont town, he struggles to find where to turn.
I personally loved the narrative style throughout the book. The author truly worked hard to perfect the dialogue, to keep it natural, and it flows beautifully. Especially between Luke and his love interest in the novel. I don't want to spoil how this ends, but I loved how the relationship built and moved in the novel.
Last, this book really challenges the reader to go into the mind of an officer seeking a second chance in a faraway town. A place totally different from his home and the perfect place to start again. For anyone struggling to start over and find a new path in life will really love this.
Profile Image for Cranky - The Book Curmudgeon.
2,091 reviews150 followers
October 20, 2021
4 Cranky Stars

Luke Campbell leaves the big city police department after his involvement in a questionable shooting. His last chance at working in law enforcement is taking a job as the only Detective in small town Granton, Vermont. But, Luke soon realizes that life in a small town is anything but quiet and idyllic!

On his first day in town, he meets a beautiful young woman from Quebec who has a young son and sad eyes. Then, he gets into a fistfight with a man recently released from prison (and whom everyone in town seems to hate). As if that isn't enough, he is assigned to investigate a body found in the woods.

Luke begins to suspect that his boss, the chief of police, knows more than he is admitting and Luke has to decide how to proceed in his investigation. Is there anyone in town he can trust or all they all involved in an intricate web of deception and intrigue?

I enjoyed this book and it reminded me a lot of the old film noir detective stories. Set in a slower time without cell phones and Internet, the writer creates a dark and mysterious atmosphere. The characters are well-developed, the story moves at a good pace and there is enough mystery to delight any fan of this genre. Plus, there is a budding romance that adds a lot to the story.
Profile Image for Meghan.
2,085 reviews
April 25, 2022
Stranger's Kingdom where the prologue actually provided an introduction and provided fluidity to the plot. I knew I was in for quite the story when it's about a newly promoted detective trying to survive in a tough world. Then just when he was enjoying a nice meal at a local diner when Like gets involved with a brawl. Then, with Granton being a small town word gets out at the speed of light which according to the chief some rules have to be bent. Reading this excerpt, I immediately knew the direction this book was headed and I knew I had to brave myself for extreme controversy. With controversy comes drama and with Jeannie, Chloe, and Helen being prominent female protagonists, Stranger's Kingdom was set up for quite the thrill ride. My heart really was racing and tears vowed through my eyes with the introduction of Roland and the turmoil he was going through, by I knew that eventually Like will mentor him and that warmed my heart and was a breath of fresh air to read. The fact that Roland loved to read, well that just made me happier. Then that's when the twists and turns came in that made my jaw open very wide. A fantastic read that really will leave you at the edge of your seat.

I could not be enough of this book. A Journey you will never forget. This book deserves 5 stars.
25 reviews1 follower
May 1, 2022
Straight from the start, I could barely stop reading because I was way too invested in seeing what would happen next. I’ve seen written before that small towns fall into this trap that everyone knows everything, so there can’t be any secrets when really the rumors and idea of those around you help hide secrets well. This never was so true as in Granton, Vermont for our main character, Detective Luke Campbell.

Brandon Barrow did an excellent job at creating a mystery in the backdrop of this small, sleepy town that is almost background noise for our main character due to the drudgery of his daily life and internal struggles for the first half of the novel. The world created within the novel was very well built and felt like a town I could walk through and experience alongside Luke. Even the characters felt very real in their reactions to new situations and how their daily routines. In Luke’s conversations, we get little breadcrumbs and share in Luke’s suspicions of what could be occurring in this town. The people on the surface are generally friendly, although they each have their own problems and quirks made clear early on. These little hints make everyone suspect or, at the least, make the reader wonder what the person is truly like beneath the surface.

As for the original mystery that Luke must solve in the novel, the novel is set up in a way where you feel you know the suspect very early on. Without enough evidence, however, our detective must act as if everyone is suspicious. There are possibilities within perhaps not every character but several characters related to the case to have committed the crime and gotten away with it for so long. The last 30 or so pages of the novel are about pulling together every account, the small details noticed, and several witness statements to confront the criminal. It was a very satisfying way to end off the story and, while I don’t agree with the reasons the criminal committed the crimes, it was fascinating to see their perspective on the whole thing.

Overall, I give this story a perfect score. It is impossible to have a perfect novel and there were a few details I didn’t especially care for as the book went on, such as the way Luke commented on every woman’s size or attractiveness in particular, but I loved the story enough that I thought it deserved a 5/5. I would definitely recommend mystery fans to give this novel a try.
Profile Image for Kim Beebe.
10 reviews2 followers
December 23, 2021

Strangers’ Kingdom - Brandon Barrows
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Publication Date: August 25th, 2021

Synopsis -

Politically blacklisted detective Luke Campbell's last chance in law-enforcement is a job with the police department of rural Granton, Vermont. It's a beautiful town, home to a beautiful, intriguing girl who's caught his eye, and it's a chance at redemption. Even if his new boss seems strange, secretive, and vaguely sinister, Campbell is willing to give this opportunity a shot.

And no sooner does he make that decision than the first in a series of murders is discovered, starting a chain of events that will change the lives of everyone in this once-quiet town.

My Thoughts - Thanks to @rrbooktours and Black Rose Writing for gifting me this copy for review.

First things first; I absolutely loved this book. I read it in 3 days and it immediately pulled me in. That being said, I would say this book is somewhat of a slow burn. It pulls you in right away, and then slows down a little and then bam! something else happens to pull you in. I’m actually a huge fan of this type of book, but I know a few people don’t enjoy that, SO, the pace of the book - loved.

I also loved the characters. Every single one. I’m not sure I’ve ever loved every single character in a book before. Yes, I even loved the assholes. The way they were written was superb and so real, and I enjoyed getting to know more about them, and especially getting to know more about the main character, Luke.

I really enjoyed the insight into what a small town cop does and goes through each day, and I enjoyed seeing the process through the eyes of Luke. His interactions with everyone around him was fascinating - wanting to trust people but always having to be suspicious. I enjoyed trying to figure out who the killer was, right along with him.

That being said, I did feel like the ending was a little predicable, at least to me. However, if you like slow burns, small mountain towns, and playing detective, this would be a great book for you. It was an easy read, and I was very impressed with the writing. So friends, sip your coffee or tea, and get to it! Strangers’ Kingdom is a great read.
47 reviews1 follower
April 20, 2022
A criminal-noir flair with flawless rhythm

Brandon Barrows' Strangers' Kingdom is truly a work of literature of another era. Introduced through a cinematic atmosphere, Strangers gets the grip of its readers by naturalizing the relatable relationship between a tormented man and his profession. Barrows has the authenticity of narrating, by means of the traditional police/detective genre, a sort of comeback story; one full of tantalizing mystery and a certain New England-country-crime nostalgia.

Luke Campbell is rooted deep in the canonical detective characters archetype, with enough balance of fierceness, acuteness, and charisma. The controversies surrounding his move to Granton are well structured and exploited by the author, who knew the contemporary intricacies of having a career in the police department, and the consequences for the bold (or näive) who choose this path. His violent reception to town and his first assignment ignites a wonderful and dramatic downfall.

The plot oscillates wisely between the doubt, a love interest, and a riveting final reveal at the heart of the woods. The town does not provide the hero the pretended calmness, but a mare magnum of intrigue and conspiracy-provoking thought, including how the little Granton police department could be (or not) the basis of the rotten events that shake this tiny community. The hints, the horror, the descriptive nature of the style, and the introspection of the characters make Strangers' Kingdom a true heavy-paced, thrilling mystery. A must-read for the genre fanatics.
Profile Image for Kathrin Spinnler.
89 reviews8 followers
April 19, 2022
After a shooting incident, Detective Luke Campbell leaves the city and takes a job in the small Vermont town of Granton. Only hours after his arrival, an unidentifiable body gets discovered in the woods, and the mercurial police chief asks Luke to investigate.

Over the next few days, Luke finds out more about the history of various Granton residents and slowly pieces together what happened. When another dead person is found, he suspects that the same perpetrator could be behind the incident.

As he settles in in Granton, Luke also begins to spend more time with single mother Chloe and her young son, Roland.

Will Luke be able to solve the mystery and stop the murder of a third person? And will the reluctant Chloe ever warm up to him?

Although I’m not usually a fan of police procedurals, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Brandon Barrows combines various engaging elements of plot with interesting descriptions to create a well-paced story. The book held my attention throughout and kept me guessing. I would recommend Strangers’ Kingdom to anyone who enjoys mysteries and is looking for an entertaining, rich book.
233 reviews4 followers
December 28, 2022

I probably read more cop/robber stories than are good for me but I really enjoy the thrill of a good reveal and follow up that seems critical to a decent conclusion.
With this short story though it just wasn't quite able to bring the characters and the action (lack) to a proper end.
There's something basic missing here. There's absolutely no underlying tension and not enough plot devices to compensate for the unknown amount of mystery. From the first chapter the characters plod along, almost as eager as I was to finish up and forget what happens next.
Simply put we know who the characters are but in that knowing we see how empty and unhappy everyone is no matter what happens to them. None of them could explain anything with any specific motivation or self understanding.
This tries to render complexity but really just pushes the inevitable direction the entire plot takes. It's trying to be deep and disorienting but instead of a sense of ferocious wit the characters are one-sided and weak.
I think this might be teens light fiction and for that reason,, I'm leaving 3 starr.
Just not for me.

Profile Image for 2manybooks2littletime.
253 reviews24 followers
December 24, 2021
📚 Judging the book by its cover, I never would’ve picked this one up. I didn’t sign up for the tour right away, because it just didn’t call to me. I am so happy I decided to take a chance on it. They do say to never judge a book by its cover and this proved that sentiment for me!
📚 Luke Campbell takes a new detective position in the small town of Granton, VT. He is immediately thrust into the mysterious deaths that appear at first to be possible suicides.
📚The past and the present collide as he discovers the guilty party. There are pretty obvious hints to the perpetrator throughout the book, but Barrows did a great job keeping the story interesting.
📚 The love story that is weaved into the novel is subtle, so the words spoken in the epilogue were a bit much for me, but the actions were spot-on.
📚 Overall, I definitely recommended this mystery novel to anyone who likes an easy, intriguing story!

Thank you to R. R. Book Tours and Brandon Barrows for a gifted copy of Strangers’ Kingdom in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Hannah Barry.
255 reviews11 followers
April 15, 2022
Wow. This book had such good energy to it--it truly felt like a love letter to the older detective noir paperbacks of the 1950s. The author, Brandom Barrows, clearly has a love and a knack for writing detective novels. His ability to bring in the classic dark themes of noir was impressive and flawless. Barrows may single-handedly bring the noir genre back to life!

I generally think that a first-person narrative is quite hard to pull off and I am usually pretty hard on authors when they go for it, but Barrows enacts his skill with such fluid and engaging competence. I can see why so many other reviewers are calling for a movie, it absolutely has that potential. I would also liken it to Twin Peaks in a way--the trees, the strange characters, the darkness--albeit much less strange.

This read was so fun and enveloping I really didn't want to put it down. Anyone who loves a classic mystery with a touch of darkness, or wants to experience some good noir, I would highly suggest this book!
150 reviews6 followers
May 5, 2022
Brandon Burrows introduces us to a story set in Vermont in 1952. Luke Campbell is a small-town cop seeking to redeem his career under a mysterious boss. As soon as a trail of murders begins, he realizes that this little town of Granton in Vermont has its secrets and lies buried underneath.
Barrows deftly manages to introduce new characters to readers without clogging the plot with their backstories. He leaves no stone unturned as he spins together murder, mystery, suspense, intrigue, deception, and thrill into this captivating plot. I particularly enjoyed the dramatic rhythm as the book wraps up to a close along with the psychological clues that the author left along the way.
The writer has managed to nail the moment, the characters, and the mood in one perfectly wrought prose, something few police procedural writers can. Luke is a relentless detective pursuing the truth against all odds and readers will find themselves rooting for him every step of the way. Fans of quality police procedurals laced with romance will find Stranger's Kingdom, a satisfying nail-biter.
Profile Image for Donna Costello.
116 reviews3 followers
April 29, 2022
I love a good crime novel and I was not disappointed by this book. The protagonist Luke was a wonderful, flawed character that seemed to step off the page and I became immersed in his story. The author creates an underlying feeling of tension with his descriptions of the town making the novel atmospheric. I could easily believe Granton exists and emanates this feeling. The female characters were well developed and three dimensional, they felt like people which was a joy to read as sometimes characterisation can go by the wayside in this genre. The plot kept me guessing, which is no mean feat as I usually see a plot twist coming a mile away.

If you are a fan of mysteries, detectives and noir definitely take the time to read this book.
Profile Image for Jill Hand.
Author 59 books135 followers
August 28, 2021
Mr. Barrows was kind enough to send me an advance copy of this book. I finished it on one reading. Strangers’ Kingdom follows the adventures of big-city police detective Luke Campbell, who joins a rural police force after experiencing a career setback.
He’s not in deceptively peaceful-seeming Grafton, Vermont long before he realizes something rotten is lurking behind the pretty scenery.
Highly recommended to those who love mysteries.
Profile Image for Elys.
258 reviews7 followers
May 8, 2022

I genuinely enjoy a good mystery--I'm pretty picky with them, so color me surprised when I found myself sitting down and finishing this in one go!

Strangers' Kingdom (even just the title alone!) has everything you need in a good mystery: MC detective who is bouncing back from a job gone wrong, a small town that's not quite as peaceful as it appears, deceitful men in power, a background romance, and, of course...the woods!

A fun mystery / thrilled for any fan of the genre. :)
Profile Image for Pepere.
13 reviews1 follower
October 3, 2022
I gave this work five stars, a move that is very rare for me. Well written and packed with unusual insights and interesting plot twists, all without wasting a significant amount of time describing in endless detail things like what the characters wear or what their rooms look like - just enough detail, in my opinion, to settle me comfortably in the scenario. My five star reviews have been reserved until now for Sanford, Grisham, and Connolly
Author 1 book13 followers
April 28, 2022
This was enjoyable, classic detective novel with a compelling and flawed main character, a page turning mystery, and a setting that helped ground the story. I also enjoyed the big city cop in a small town vibe.
Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews

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