Chicken Scratch Cover

Chicken Scratch

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CHICKEN SCRATCH
by
BECKI WILLIS
Genre: Cozy Mystery / Romance / Women Sleuths
Publisher: Clear Creek Publishing
Publication Date: April 13, 2015
Number of Pages: 314

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Chicken Scratch book cover

Named Best Mystery Series 2018  Texas Association of Authors

When Madison Reynolds finds herself widowed and penniless before forty, she does the only thing she knows to do – she packs up her teenage twins and moves back home with her eighty-year-old grandmother. Life in The Sisters, Texas has not changed much since she’s been gone, but at least her best friend Genesis is there to soften the transition back into small-town life.

To make ends meet, Madison opens In a Pinch Temporary Services. Her first real client is Ronny Gleason, but when she shows up for the first day of work at the Gleason Poultry Farm, Madison makes a gruesome discovery. The dead body she finds belongs to Mr. Gleason. When a local man is arrested for murder, Madison takes on the job of proving his innocence. Even though she is not a private investigator, both mothers are desperate: Lucy Ngyen to clear her son’s name, and Madison to pay her bills. But as she begins asking questions around town, her interference is not welcome.

With a daughter determined to go back to Dallas, a son settling into small town life, a feisty grandmother who knows all the town gossip, bill collectors calling, and now someone trying to keep her silent, Madison has no time for re-kindling her high school crush with police chief Brash deCordova. She has her hands full just trying to stay alive.

If she survives her amateur investigation, Maddy has a decision to make. Will she go back to her life in Dallas, or will she build a new life here in The Sisters?

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Clueless Gent’s Rating

5 star rating

As the first book in The Sisters Texas Series, Chicken Scratch did what it was supposed to do.  It firmly established the main characters, and it was written so well that the reader will likely want to continue the series!  I know I did.

The premise of the book is perfect for a cozy mystery series.  The protagonist, a newly-penniless widow, has no choice but to leave the big city with her two twin teenagers and head back to the rural Texas town where she grew up.  She moves in with her feisty grandmother.

A perfect premise needs a perfect setting.  Becki Willis created that with The Sisters, two small, adjacent towns with a “colorful” history!  And so it begins.

Why Chicken Scratch Is so Much Fun to Read

With a premise and setting like that, it probably wouldn’t take too much imagination to craft a good story.  However, with an author like Becki Willis, you get some awesome entertainment!

Becki starts with the protagonist.  Madison Reynolds is the imperfectly perfect underdog.  She’s put in a bad situation – through no fault of her own – and she has to scramble to pay the bills and support her two teenage twins.  She does this by creating a temp business, trying to get some odd jobs to earn some quick cash.

Her first decent job is to caretake a chicken farm while the owner is away.  As a city boy, I had no idea what a chicken farm was like, but Willis took care of that. She included the sights, the sounds, the odors, and even the touch of chickens on Madison’s ankles as she tries to navigate each building.  As the story goes along, we learn a little bit more about the process of chicken farming, and I actually found it to be fascinating!

Her next windfall came when she was hired to do some amateur sleuthing.  This puts her at adds with the local sheriff, who just happens to be her old high school heartthrob.

While trying to earn a few bucks, Madison also has to help her teenage twins adjust to small town life.  That’s a pretty formidable task with today’s urban teenage mindsets. Watching these twins trying to adjust is highly entertaining!

Technically Speaking

As with all of the Becki Willis books I’ve read, Chicken Scratch was well edited. Very few SPAG errors were found.  The pacing was also right on point. I was never bored.  There was always something going on.

This story is a prime example of all things in moderation.  There’s a fair amount of humor, for example, but not enough to call it a comedy.  There are descriptions of violence, but not enough to give me nightmares.  There’s romance, of course, but not so much that a male reader should feel intimidated.

I found this story to be very satisfying – like comfort food.  However, lucky for us, this is only the first book in this series!

I received a free copy of this book from Lone Star Book Blog Tours in exchange for my honest review.
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Becki Willis Author Photo

Becki Willis, best known for her popular The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series and Forgotten Boxes, always dreamed of being an author. In November of ’13, that dream became a reality.

Since that time, she has published numerous books, won first place honors for Best Mystery Series, Best Suspense Fiction, Best Women’s Detective Fiction, and Best Audio Book, won the 2018 RONE Award for Paranormal Fiction, and has introduced her imaginary friends to readers around the world.

An avid history buff, Becki likes to poke around in old places and learn about the past. Other addictions include reading, writing, junking, unraveling a good mystery, and coffee. She loves to travel but believes coming home to her family and her Texas ranch is the best part of any trip. Becki is a member of the Association of Texas Authors, Writer’s League of Texas, Sisters in Crime, the National Association of Professional Women, and the Brazos Writers organization. She attended Texas A&M University and majored in Journalism.

Connect with Becki below. She loves to hear from readers and encourages feedback!

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GRAND PRIZE: Signed Copy of Wildflower Wedding + $20 Amazon Gift Card
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