The News In Small Towns By Iza Moreau

"The News in Small Towns" - Iza Moreau

The News in Small Towns kicks off with our protagonist and narrator, Sue-Ann McKeown, in Baghdad.

She’s an embedded journalist who wakes up with a hangover and a soldier she doesn’t really know. In just a few short hours, she’ll be notified of her mother’s death and be on her way back to Pine Oak, a tiny town on the Florida panhandle.

It doesn’t take long for strange things to start happening once we’re introduced to some of the town’s inhabitants and Sue-Ann’s co-workers at The Pine Oak Courier. There are a few different mysteries that are going on simultaneously—strange happenings in the woods behind Sue-Ann’s property, a pirate radio station that seems to play music with very specific messages, and ritual animal killings, plus Sue-Ann is being stalked by a man she went to high school with. There’s a lot to keep the reader engaged.

That being said, we had a difference of opinion regarding the enjoyability of this book. One thing that drove Nikki crazy was the way the author wrote out the phonetic spellings in the dialog of one specific character who had a strong Southern accent. Cheri, on the other hand, listened to the book with a text-to-speech reader, so the accent came through near perfectly and added to her enjoyment.

Both reviewers agreed that the book was slowed down in places by scenes that didn’t move the plot forward at all. Some of these were for sharing historical information about the town or background on relationships, but we felt they were either too long or done in a way that really broke up the action of the story. The author also has a habit of breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the reader, which threw us both off a bit.

Another thing we didn’t see eye to eye about was the way the romantic relationship was handled. The women involved had to deal with overt, as well as some serious internalized homophobia and their actions certainly may make some bisexual women and lesbians scratch their heads or want to shake them silly. Nikki fell into the shaking category, while Cheri definitely felt some frustration but could empathize with the women. The characters themselves do not identify as lesbian or even bisexual anywhere in the story and are primarily in relationships with men. Although this didn’t bother us in the slightest, it could turn off those with no interest in reading books with women having sex with men.

So there you go. Neither of us thought the book was anywhere near perfect and Nikki has no plans to continue with the series. Cheri, on the other hand, found the characters so enjoyable she has already blown through the other two books and will grab the fourth as soon as it is published later this year.