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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Northwoods


Narrators: Chris Henry Coffey, Zac Aleman Simon & Schuster Audio

ISBN: 9781668017265

Publisher: Atria Books

Pub Date: 01/09/2023

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars + (ARC)



“A novel you absolutely don’t want to miss.” —William Kent Krueger, New York Times bestselling author


The dark underbelly of an idyllic Midwestern resort town is revealed in the aftermath of a murder with ties to America’s opioid epidemic in this unputdownable and thrilling debut that is perfect for fans of James Lee Burke, William Kent Krueger, and Mindy Mejia.


Eli North is not okay.


His drinking is getting worse by the day, his emotional wounds after a deployment to Afghanistan are as raw as ever, his marriage and career are over, and the only job he can hold down is with the local sheriff’s department. And that’s only because the sheriff is his mother—and she’s overwhelmed with small town Shaky Lake’s dwindling budget and the fallout from the opioid epidemic. The Northwoods of Wisconsin may be a vacationer’s paradise, but amidst the fishing trips and campfires and Paul Bunyan festivals, something sinister is taking shape.


When the body of a teenage boy is found in the lake, it sets in motion an investigation that leads Eli to a wealthy enclave with a violent past, a pharmaceutical salesman, and a missing teenage girl. Soon, Eli and his mother, along with a young FBI agent, are on the hunt for more than just a killer.


If Eli solves the case, could he finally get the shot at redemption he so desperately needs? Or will answers to this dark case elude him and continue to bring destruction to the Northwoods?






About the Author


Photo Credit: Paulius Musteikis


Amy Pease is an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin and the Madison Writer’s Studio, and works as a nurse practitioner, where she is a nationally recognized HIV specialist. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two children. Northwoods is her first novel.










Exceptional Authors.

Standout Books. Elevator Talk.

INTRIGUING QUESTIONS. INQUIRING READERS WANT TO KNOW.




Q&A Elevator Ride Interview

with debut author, Amy Pease

Behind the Book and the Author





Happy New Year!


Welcome to the first January 2024 #AuthorElevatorSeries and joining us for the first time, special guest author Amy Pease with her highly anticipated debut novel, NORTHWOODS.

 

The dark underbelly of an idyllic Midwestern resort town is revealed in the aftermath of a murder with ties to America’s opioid epidemic in this unputdownable and thrilling debut that is perfect for fans of James Lee Burke, William Kent Krueger, and Mindy Mejia.

 

Join us as Amy shares some fascinating behind-the-scenes exclusives from the book and fun moments from this talented new voice in fiction!


Welcome, Amy!





Q. Give us your best ELEVATOR PITCH for NORTHWOODS.    


AMY: Northwoods is a contemporary mystery/thriller set in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. It follows a mother-son law enforcement team as they race to catch a killer, only to find themselves drawn into a conspiracy that has implications far beyond their sleepy lakeside community. Think Dopesick meets Ozark meets The Firm.



Q.  INSPIRATION: The spark that ignited the novel? Where were you when the idea came to you?


AMY: In a moment of boredom, I challenged myself to picture a scene – just the first thing to pop into my head – and it was the opening scene of Northwoods, nearly exactly as it’s written in the finished book.  It came to me in such vivid detail that I knew it was a story that was living in my head and demanded to be told.



Q.  SEQUEL: The million-dollar question: Will there be a sequel or series? Please…These characters are too good to end!


AMY: Yes!  I’ve always intended Northwoods to be the first in a series.  I’m working on Book 2 right now.  Northwoods focuses a lot on character development to set the stage for readers to have a long-term connection to Shaky Lake and its inhabitants.

 


Q.  ADAPTATION: For fun, do you have any cast of stars in mind for any of your leading roles for movie or TV series?


AMY: I love having visual inspiration for the people and places I’m writing about so I made a mood board with photos of every single character, from Eli (played by a sad Chris Evans) to Bella the dog (played by a Game of Thrones direwolf.). Some of the inspiration photos are actors but a lot are just random stock photos I found with internet searches.


Readers: You can find the mood board included in Amy's newsletter.

 


Q.  TAKEAWAY: What important message, theme, or takeaway would you like readers to be left with when reading your book?


AMY: I want to show readers that people struggling with addiction or mental health are more than just faceless stereotypes.  I also want to show that compassion and understanding are vital when helping someone out of a dark place, but that sometimes it also takes professional help.   



Delighted to hear about the sequel!

Keep reading for more Up Close and Personal with Amy below:



BIRTH STATE? or (Country)

Wisconsin


FAVORITE TYPE OF MUSIC?

My go-to Pandora playlist is “Hipster Cocktail Party”


IF YOU WERE STUCK IN AN ELEVATOR ALONE WITH ONE CELEBRITY, AUTHOR, OR CHARACTER— WHO WOULD IT BE? (Male or Female)

Robert Galbraith (aka J. K. Rowling), author of my favorite crime novels, the Cormoran Strike series.


YOUR SECRET TALENT?

My superpower is letting things go.


FAVORITE TV SERIES? (Or Movie/Video) binge-watch, series, etc.

Schitt’s Creek or Game of Thrones


MOST MEMORABLE PLACE YOU HAVE TRAVELED?

Istanbul


IF YOU WERE GRANTED 3 MONTHS OF UNINTERRUPTED WRITING TIME—WHERE WOULD IT BE?

A farmhouse in Umbria, Italy.


WHEN YOU RECEIVE A SPARK OF INSPIRATION FOR A BOOK:

I keep a notebook and pen nearby and will write notes, especially when I’m reading books.


NAME A BOOK TITLE ON YOUR BOOKSHELF OR NIGHTSTAND THAT WOULD SURPRISE YOUR READERS?

Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt. I’m a huge fan of bodice rippers!


YOU WOULDN'T BE CAUGHT DEAD, WHERE?

Watching a reality dating show.


THE LAST BOOK YOU RAVED ABOUT?

DON’T KNOW TOUGH by Eli Cranor


ONE BIT OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE AN INSPIRING AUTHOR?

Make sure you really, really want to be a published author because it’s a lot of work, with a lot of setbacks and frustrations. Your drive to succeed needs to be ironclad.


WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT OF A BOOK?

Characters. If I don’t care about them in some way, I’m not invested in the story.


WHAT ARE EARLIER JOBS YOU HAD BEFORE BECOMING AN AUTHOR?

Nurse Practitioner


WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS LIKE?

Aspiring plotter, but currently a messy combination of plotting and pantsing.


AT WHAT AGE DID YOU CONSIDER BECOMING A WRITER?

About nine years old


IF YOU COULD WRITE ANOTHER GENRE IN ADDITION TO THE CURRENT ONE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Historical romance set in medieval Europe.


TRAVELER OR HOMEBODY?

Traveler


AN AUTHOR (s) WHO HAS INSPIRED YOU?

John Steinbeck, Robert Galbraith


FAVORITE TYPE OF WORKOUT?

Weightlifting


BOOKS YOU LOVED AS A KID THAT MADE YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER?

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery



Thank you, Amy, for spending time with us today!


Readers, be sure and pick up NORTHWOODS, check out all the praise, and join Amy on tour!

I hope you enjoy NORTHWOODS as much as I did!














Praise


"Propulsive...Pease expertly builds tension as the book progresses, weaving together multiple perspectives to construct a complex mystery. Her gripping and atmospheric novel will keep readers invested until the last page." ― Booklist

"Thrilling."

― Madison Magazine


Best Mysteries and Thrillers of Winter

― BookBub



"In NORTHWOODS, Amy Pease powerfully shatters the myth of tranquility in the beautiful north country of Wisconsin. Murder, drugs, and PTSD are among the demons that populate rural Sherman County, where lake resorts abound and the sheriff’s department is underfunded and understaffed. Pease’s brilliantly told story of a beleaguered mother-son law enforcement team is a compelling and heartbreaking debut that marks a new and important voice in the mystery genre. This is a novel you absolutely don’t want to miss."

— William Kent Krueger, New York Times bestselling author of THE RIVER WE REMEMBER


"Get lost in Amy Pease’s words, get lost in the gripping personal debut of a complex new series—get lost in NORTHWOODS."

— Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire series


"Outstanding . . . Pease’s sharp dialogue and well-rounded characters enrich the core mystery with an authentic representation of the everyday struggles of small-town Americans. Admirers of Eli Cranor will eagerly await more from this gifted writer."

— Publishers Weekly (starred review)


"Through vivid settings and unforgettable characters, Amy Pease shatters the peaceful illusion of upper Midwest resort towns. I couldn’t get enough of Sheriff Marge North, a woman whose emotions are a vital asset to her job, and her son, Eli, whose buried trauma makes investigating a murder nearly impossible. NORTHWOODS is much more than a crime novel. It’s a story of how the world breaks us and yet sometimes, if we’re lucky, offers us a path forward. A debut not to be missed!"

—- Mindy Mejia, USA Today bestselling author of TO CATCH A STORM and EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE


"If you’re going to these Northwoods for peace and quiet, think again. Amy Pease’s debut novel is a gorgeously rendered character study of a man, a mother, and a place with far too much going on under the surface. The perfect lakeside reading."

— Lori Rader-Day, award-winning author of THE DEATH OF US


"Amy Pease’s NORTHWOODS is a novel so skillfully immersive that it is hard to believe it is her first. Her story weaves a gripping murder mystery with compelling character studies; her Northern Wisconsin setting teems with secrets and menace. It all makes for a powerful, poised and propulsive novel that marks the emergence of an exciting new voice on the thriller scene."

— Stephen Amidon, author of LOCUST LANE and HUMAN CAPITA







My Review


Amy Pease hits the ground running with her standout, impressive, compelling, character-driven debut, NORTHWOODS — a gripping murder mystery crime thriller with vivid settings that explores the challenges of a small Midwestern resort town when the past and present collide and dark secrets emerge.


Set against the backdrop of America's opioid epidemic, both heartbreaking and deeply emotional, the author explores struggles and real consequences both with individuals and the community—from addiction, substance abuse, PTSD, and mental health with great insights into current issues of today with compassion and sensitivity.


It's a fantastic start to a new series, leaving readers eager to return to Shaky Lake and this electrifying cast of characters for the next installment.


Set in the Northwoods of Wisconsin in a small idyllic resort town of Shaky Lake (Beran's Resort), we meet a mother and son law enforcement team as they unravel a conspiracy when the past collides with the present in this sleepy small town—owned by Kim and Mike Beran. They have been approached to turn the resort into a healthcare facility.


The resort is rustic, nostalgic, and picturesque. From cabins, campfires, porches, firepits, screened porches, Adirondack chairs, canoes, a beach, and a long L-shaped pier across Shaky Lake. However, is it peaceful? While dark secrets lie underneath the surface?


Meet Sheriff Marge North and her son, Deputy Eli North (ex-wife, Michelle, and his son, 11-year-old Andy) of Sherman County Sherriff's Department. Eli is barely holding down the job his mother gave him as a functional alcoholic to cope with the memories from his deployment in Afghanistan.

Northwoods is a vacation paradise resort town where people go to fish, campfires, and festivals.

However, is there something dark and menacing lurking beneath beyond the peace and beauty?


No one trusts Eli, but Marge cannot give up on her son. She is trying to protect their town and her beloved son from his destructive tendencies. Eli loves silence with no voices, noise, radios, motorboats, or helicopters.


Marge is pushing 60 and has migraines. She needed Eli's help. Eli's father had been in law enforcement and had been killed in the line of duty when Eli was three.


When Eli discovers the body of a sixteen-year-old boy, Ben, floating dead in a boat in Shaky Lake, this may be his shot at redeeming himself, and he is charged with finding the missing girl.


What he does not anticipate leading him to a wealthy enclave with a violent past, a pharmaceutical salesman, a dead teen boy, and a missing teen girl, Caitlin. What do drugs have to do with this? Who can be trusted?


The county will give them some outside help. This leads Marge, Eli, and a young FBI agent on the hunt for more than they bargained for.


NORTHWOODS is an unputdownable page-turner! From a small town police department stretched beyond its means, from pharmaceuticals, illegal opioids, and power. You will fall in love with complex and well-developed characters—Eli who is savvy and uses his investigative skills. I enjoyed the mother-son relationship. I loved Marge and Eli! I cannot wait for the next book!


Beautifully written, a powerful debut, and a fully immersive suspense mystery with solid character development that will keep you on the edge of your seat from page one to the ending, anxiously awaiting the next installment.


For fans of Joshua Moehling's Ben Packard series and authors Tim Johnson's Distant Sons, William Kent Krueger, Allen Eskens, and Karen Katchur's The Greedy Three.


Stay tuned for my #AuthorElevatorSeries Q&A (pub day Jan 9th, 2024) with Amy, where we go behind the book's scenes and this newfound voice in fiction!


Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.



@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: Jan 9, 2024

My Rating: 5 Stars +

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