Hanging Falls by Margaret Mizushima

tayparks's review

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challenging dark mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


kbranfield's review against another edition

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4.5 stars.

Hanging Falls by Margaret Mizushima  is an intriguing police procedural. Although I highly recommend the previous installments, this sixth mystery in the Timber Creek K-9 series can be read as a standalone.

Deputy Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo join  wildlife manager Glenna Dalton in a hike to survey trail damage. They have just arrived at the lake when Robo and Glenna's dog moose locate a floating corpse. With a storm moving in, Mattie knows she needs to save as much evidence as possible. She and Glenna manage to remove the body and Mattie stays behind while Glenna goes to call for help. As she is surveying the area for possible clues, Mattie believes she spots someone above the lake.  Believing this person might be involved or know something about the death, she and Robo hike to scout the scene after Glenna's return.  Her instincts are right on target when they find a young man hiding the surrounding trees. Meanwhile  Detective Stella  Losallo, Deputy Ken Brody, and local vet and Mattie's love interest Cole Walker arrive to remove the remains and search for evidence. Returning to the station to their suspect, Tracy Lee Brown, everyone hopes the case will be wrapped up soon.

Mattie decides to delay her vacation and her trip to meet her newly found sister Julia and grandmother. After bringing Tracy Lee back to his campsite, she, Robo and Brody look for more evidence where the body was found. With Robo's invaluable assistance, they locate an item that leads them to a group of newcomers to Timber Creek.  The religious group have recently relocated and they are establishing  a new life for themselves.  After talking to leader Isaac King and the others on the property, Mattie and Stella have a good idea who their victim is.  But now they have to try to figure out why someone murdered the young man.

Mattie's sister and grandmother decide to visit her in Timber Creek and she is nervously preparing for their arrival.  She knows they have information about her deceased father and she is hoping they might have details about her missing mother. Mattie is surprised at how emotional their reunion is and she is almost overwhelmed by what she learns about her long ago past. Unfortunately not all of her questions are answered initially and after the case is wrapped up, Mattie knows she must travel to her sister and grandmother to learn the missing details.

Hanging Falls is a fast-paced and engrossing mystery with a well-rounded cast of characters. Mattie has continued to grow and evolve to the point where she is willing to be a little more open. She and Cole are at a more comfortable place in their relationship and she is grateful for his and his family's support. The investigation  moves at a brisk pace as they eventually uncover the truth about not one, but two murders.  This latest addition to Margaret Mizushima's marvelous Timber Creek K-9 series is another fantastic mystery that old and new fans are sure to enjoy.

achoward's review

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Deputy Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo find a body in the spill basin of Hanging Falls while hiking with Glenna, who is a Park Ranger. After they manage to fish the man out of the water before he's washed further away, they find the word "PAY" carved on his torso. An instant mystery! I like it! He's wearing what look to be homespun clothes, with buttons as closures. I have to admit, I saw this bit and knew instantly there was going to be some kind of quasi-Amish religious group involved.

The rest of the book follows Mattie and Robo, and the rest of the Sheriff's office, running who this man was, who killed him, and why he was dumped in that location.

During the investigation, Mattie and Robo find a young man camped out on a ridge overlooking the falls. He doesn't have a ton of money on him, and seems a bit scared when they bring him in to pick his brain about the murder they think he may have seen. He insists he knows nothing, and ultimately is released. He pops up in a scene a little further into the book, and not in a good way - you'll understand when you get to that part.

A secondary story running under the main story is Mattie finally getting in touch with her long-lost sister and her grandmother. The plan was for Mattie to take some vacation and go to meet her sis and grandmother. Instead, since she's hung up in this murder, her sister decides to come to her instead, with grandmother in tow.

Meanwhile, my guess about the quasi-Amish religious group is correct, but there's a dash of polygamous Mormonism tossed in as well. While the people of the Sheriff's Office are suspicious of the residents of the compound, they have nothing concrete to charge anyone with anything - they can't prove polygamy in the compound or that the children are in danger, and so forth. The dead man was part of the congregation, but according to the men running the group, he had left, saying he was returning home.

There are a couple of cowboys on the property next to the Amish/Mormon folks, and the two groups have clashed, and the two men had a run-in with the dead man, but insist they did not kill him.

There's also a third story point running through this - Mattie's relation with her vet boyfriend, and the vet's relationship with his daughters. If you've not read the previous books in this series, the vet's daughters provide a way, in the narrative, to know some of the sordid details of Mattie's past (warning here: this features Mattie, her brother, and her mother being kidnapped by a very, very bad man. Domestic abuse is detailed, and child sexual abuse is intimated, so if these are no-gos for you, you'd better skip this one). This third story point also involved a veterinary drug rep dealing meds to a farrier illegally.

Eventually, through some very good and realistic work, the Sheriff's Office find the culprits for all the crimes and various arrests are made. Mattie's family meetup give her some details about her father's death, and the book ends on an intriguing note about Mattie tracking down her mother.

The book is well-written, and the characters, when they speak, speak like normal people would in whatever the situation is. There are no glaring plot holes, and there's no driving horses into doing things they would not do in real life (which is something I care about, with horses or other animals). Mattie's personal life issues are informing her current life, but she's not a mope about it, or thinking about it 24/7 to allow it to invade her every moment.

Recommended, and I'll likely head back to the start of the series to read up on what has come before.

A solid four stars out of five. Just one ding because the baddies were fairly easy to guess for me, but it's still an enjoyable read.

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for the review copy.

ollie1976's review

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onanotherplanet's review against another edition

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mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


jeo224's review against another edition

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adventurous dark mysterious fast-paced


iffer's review

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I'm so invested in the characters in this series that there is no way (or very few ways) that I wouldn't enjoy this book.
SpoilerIt tugged at my heartstrings that Mattie is finally reunited with her sister and her abuela. I could imagine the love, both the sadness and joy, as Mattie's blood family met her chosen family, while eating delicious tamales, to boot.
The plot line with the polygamist group made me somewhat uncomfortable. Margaret Mizushima seems to have tried to portray these characters in a "fair" light, but I couldn't help feeling that it was a bit stereotypical
Spoilerand that a polygamy preacher was an easy target to pin murder on

madiroo91's review

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I really enjoyed this book. I liked that the case in this book was really different than the other ones. Also, a double murderrrr? okayyyy

Once again Mizushima tugs at my heart strings when Robo is put in harms way! There was a mention of puppies and I hope they are part of the next book!!

Also, hoping for a possible proposal in the next book?? or at least Mattie and Cole taking the next step in their relationship.

Happy to finalllllllllly get the answers about Mattie's past and her family. Hopefully they make another appearance in the future.

tboofy's review

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This is a fun series. I wouldn't pick this one up without reading the others, but it's a good easy read.

catiandrah's review

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2.5 stars rounded down to 2.
Thoughts at 38%:
1. I mentioned this in my review of the last book, but this is another example of the author having no idea how to write children. Sophie (a 9-year-old) was watching Paw Patrol. What the heck? Paw Patrol is for MUCH younger children. My kids watched it at maybe 3-5? Neither Sophie or her teenaged sister Angie act in a realistic way for their ages.
2. We don't need to be told EVERY SINGLE TIME that Mattie takes Robo out to work (which is a lot because that's what the books are about) something along these lines: "...she began to pat him and chatter in a high-pitched voice that revved up his prey drive." It's getting so repetitive. We know by now why she's doing it, and that it's part of the routine. There are many other ways that the author could write this without repeating herself so much.
3. The spelling of the word "brunette" as "brunet". Misspellings irritate the crap out of me, so I googled it to see if I was missing something, and I wasn't. "Brunette" is the commonly used spelling, but the alternative "brunet" is an outdated way to refer to males with brown hair. And as the author was using it to describe females, it was still incorrect. Also, how completely irrelevant to gender hair colour