The House on Devil’s Bar by Jessie McAlan

The House on Devil’s Bar by Jessie McAlan
Publisher: Cousins House
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/suspense
Length: Full (161 pgs)
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Rose

The police verdict of a woman’s accidental drowning in the Mississippi River does more than set tongues wagging in the small Missouri town of Klim; it starts a flood of cancellations that threaten to sink Rona Murray’s bakery and events business. And blacken her good name. Determined to save both, she starts her own investigation to prove she and her property are blameless. Barbara Lindborg had stopped by Linn House to consider renting it for a party. Yet, when Rona returned from accepting a delivery, the woman had vanished.

Rona’s preliminary search for Barbara yields nothing more than suggestive footprints on the Bar. Did the woman accidentally fall into the river? Was she pushed – and if so, why? A later hunt reveals Barbara’s cell phone in the woods. How did it get halfway up the hill if the woman drowned a hundred feet below? The phone’s camera holds snaps of Klim, its residents, and the Bar. Do any of these hold a clue to her death? Or did her and Rona’s earlier conversation about history and treasure have a different meaning?
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Suspects and motives pop up like bubbles in yeast. Is Matt, an employee, still bitter about his and Barbara’s divorce? What about Rona’s own ex, Johnny? Is he trying to drive her out of business, or is his current girlfriend, Crystal, jealous of their relationship and trying to eliminate the competition? A bit like calling the kettle black, for Crystal seems very friendly with Frank, the bad boy neighbor. Frank isn’t lily-white, either. He dislikes Rona; is he behind the pranks on her property or mixed up in Barbara’s death? It isn’t until Rona’s life is threatened one stormy night that she learns the killer’s identity and her true feelings about Johnny.

This is the debut of author Jessie McAlan, the first book in a series, and I’m already looking forward to the next one. I love amateur detective stories, and this one hit all the right notes for me. A spunky hard-headed heroine (who sometimes gets a little too independent and thus gets herself into trouble), a great cast of supporting characters, and a mystery for us to puzzle out along with her. And, she did a good job with this one—there were plenty of red herrings for us to follow and, I have to admit, I was surprised at the “bad guy.”

There were a couple of inconsistencies within the book but not bad enough to mar my enjoyment of the book (the curse of being an editor in a former life). Being the first in a series that centers on a small town, there was a lot of introducing of characters which is necessary and was well done so as not to overwhelm the reader, yet I got a little confused when the heroine, Rona, used a nickname while speaking to her best friend, but used her given name the rest of the time. At first I thought she had introduced a new character.

The house on Devil’s Bar and the river itself were almost characters in the book themselves. I wish there had been more information about the house itself. Maybe it will play a larger part in subsequent books. I liked Rona a lot and absolutely loved her ex-husband, Johnny. It sounds as if their divorce was a matter of act in haste and repent in leisure, because they still very definitely have unfinished business. I’m also looking forward to getting to know the other residents of Klim better.

Kudos, Ms. McAlan.


  1. Thank you for hosting

  2. Jessie McAlan says

    Good morning! Thank you for hosting the review of my book…and thank you for the wonderful review!

  3. Lisa Brown says

    Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win 🙂

  4. Kathy Allen says

    Such a great book. I too, wanted to know more about the river, the landscape and Linn House. Then again, that must mean the author drew me into the story, huh?

    • Jessie McAlan says

      Kathy, thank you for that suggestion. I was hesitant to put much more of that into the book for fear of boring the reader and have it read like a history. But I’ll put more about both in the second book. Thanks for the suggestion.

  5. Jessie McAlan says

    Thanks to Long and Short Reviews for hosting my book review today, and thanks for the nice words. I appreciate it so much! Thanks, too, to everyone who left a comment. Good luck on the raffle drawing. I’ll sign off now…good night.


  1. […] reviewing Book One of the series, I was excited when I was offered the chance to read this and I was not disappointed. […]

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