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Melissa M Garcia

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Stranger: A Death Valley Mystery
by Melissa M Garcia   

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Books by Melissa M Garcia
· Next of Kin
· Falling Angels
· Chasing Demons
· Faith Departed: Short Stories of Mystery, Crime, and Despair
                >> View all



Publisher:  iUniverse, Inc. ISBN-10:  145023691X Type: 


Copyright:  July 2010 ISBN-13:  9781450236928

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Author Melissa M. Garcia

The death of a stranger in room 110 will drive three lives on a collision course and force them to choose between protecting family or stopping a killer.

There is a dead body in room 110 of the Death Valley Motel, and the evidence points to murder. Managers Ric and Alex Delgado, siblings with police work in their blood, chose this small Death Valley city specifically because it appeared to be a quiet place in which Alex could heal from the violent traumas of her past. Now a killer has struck too close to Alex, opening old wounds and threatening her new life.

The situation gets more complicated when Detective Will Stellar trains his observant eye on the siblings and ascertains they have something to hide. Murder seems to follow Alex Delgado, and Detective Stellar is certain she is a dangerous woman. Racing against time and against each other, the Delgados and Detective Stellar risk their lives to uncover the truth, which is ever more complicated and dangerous than any of them have imagined.        

Professional Reviews

Stranger: A Death Valley Mystery
by Melissa M. Garcia

reviewed by Peter M. Fitzpatrick

“Feeling as if she was going insane, she continued to swim. Her arms burned, but she pushed on. She couldn’t control the water or the rain. She couldn’t control her sight, but she could control her muscles. So she forced them on.”

Alex and Ric Delgado own an isolated motel built right on the edge of Death Valley, Nevada. Their isolated situation is no accident. Ric is trying to soothe and heal his sister Alex’s traumatic past. He is also fleeing from a seventeen year stint as a police detective in Los Angeles. His efforts are quickly shattered when a dead body is found in one of the rooms. Local Lake City police descend upon the scene, and the Delgados find themselve targets of an investigation led by one Detective Stellar. Ric and Alex set out to solve the murder themselves, mostly to keep Alex from being further traumatized. Soon a web of small desert town policework, journalism, and family dynamics goes into motion. Motives are uncovered and the past comes back to play havoc with everyone’s lives.

Garcia style is fast-paced and riveting. Her characters are quirky and intriguing, especially Alex Delgado. The author portrays a woman who is flawed, yet understandable. Issues of justice, revenge, and recovery are balled up inside her. The motel murder acts as catalyst to mobilize Alex which helps her unwind some of the red-hot tensions lying just below the surface. Detective Stellar plays a key role in helping her resolve some of those problems. His character also takes on depth and complexity that goes beyond being a mere cipher for authority. Will Stellar’s sexuality and sensitivity are also explored. His family and romantic involvements turn out to have a greater importance for the case than he expects. All together, this dynamic story of secrets, snooping, and ultimate confrontations makes for a modern mystery that goes beyond mere plot twists and unexpected turns. Complexities of the human soul are added to the mix, and it is a rich reward for the reader.

Stranger: A Death Valley Mystery
by Melissa M. Garcia

reviewed by Marissa Libbit

"Stranger" by Melissa M. Garcia is the fictional story of Ric and Alex Delgado, a brother and sister duo who manage a motel in "the middle of nowhere." Escaping their former lives they settle where there is likely to be no trouble, but a dead body interrupts their new quiet life. A stranger's death is just the type of crime that never happens in this small town, and everyone has a theory.

Detective Stellar and his team of officers work to solve the murder while Alex and Ric have their own ideas. Crossing paths with each other, additional lives are put in jeopardy.

"Stranger" is a good book. I really enjoyed reading it. The murder isn't too intense. There aren't too many characters. There isn't too much intrigue with twists and turns. However, the characters are well-crafted and likable. Alex is a tough, damaged young woman, but she's smart, and I found myself rooting for her even as a suspect. Ric is the protective older brother, and as is often true in real life, they both underestimate each other. Detective Stellar plays a pivotal role as the small town police officer whose personal life interferes with the investigation.

The plot contained in "Stranger" is enough to keep the reader guessing until the end. I wanted to read to the end, and I cared about the characters. I hope Ms. Garcia will continue to write as her stories are engaging and entertaining.

Sacramento Book Review
Stranger: A Death Valley Mystery
by Melissa M. Garcia

It's not the heat that kills you, it's the humanity.

Sometimes the road to ruin is often paved with good intentions. That is the motto of most of the characters in //Stranger: A Death Valley Mystery//. The good intentions of Police Detective Will Stellar leads him down a path he will never recover from, and the good intentions of sibling Ric and Alex Delgado makes their quiet life more frantic. //Stranger//, the second novel by Melissa M. Garcia, starts off with a dead body in a motel, and the book twist and turns until it is full of more red herrings than a Seattle fish market. Garcia uses a unique blend of movement and dialogue from each person in the book and gives everyone a personality, a soul, and a hint of life.That realness helps in making almost anyone a killer, and it left me guessing until the very end.

Another intriguing device used by Garcia is the use of the "whydoit?" Many times, a crime novel cares more about the mysterious "who" and the killer's identity. In //Stranger//, we get a refreshing new outlook on how important the motive is to a crime. Any two-bit hood with a gun can be a killer, because murder is an effect. The book wants you to care about the cause, and the importance of each character. With the skill of a painter, Garcia creates beautiful and soulful players for her play. At the end, I was as conflicted about the real killer as was Detective Stellar. Another thing that worked was the theme and how each person was dealing with the same problem in different ways. Everyone had a similar conflict of family over duty. This is a mystery novel done right and is as enjoyable as a cool drink on those hot desert nights.

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