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Rachel Goddard Books In Order

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Publication Order of Rachel Goddard Mystery Books

The Heat of the Moon (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
Disturbing the Dead (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
Broken Places (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
Under the Dog Star (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Bleeding Through (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Poisoned Ground (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon

Rachel Goddard is the lead character of the Rachel Goddard Series of mystery novels by Sandra Parshall. The first novel of the series was “The Heat of the Moon” that was first published in 2006 to much popularity among fans. Parshall was born in South Carolina and asserts that her first paying gig was penning the obituary column for “The Spartanburg Herald” her local newspaper. She became a reporter after she wrote an exceptional feature that she presented to an editor who loved it. Her great work in her hometown paper opened doors for her as she went on to write for “The Baltimore Evening Sun” and several papers in West Virginia. She was involved in the writing of anything from experiences of Native Americans, school board meetings, poverty in Appalachia, health care in prisons, mining disasters, and even a private interview of Hugh Hefner. Nonetheless, she had always loved stories growing up and remembers “To Kill a Mocking Bird” as a novel that had a particularly significant impact on her as a teenager. It was reading that novel that finally led her towards a career in writing. Despite living in small town and calling the local police chief grandfather, she was never into the suspense/mystery genre until at dream changed all that. A year later, she had written and published “The Heat of the Moon” with Poisoned Press which went on to win Best First Novel at the Agatha Awards.

After much success with her Rachel Goddard series of novels, Sandra Parshall went on to serve on the Sisters in Crime Board, where she was in charge of the list of members of the organization. Aside from her novel writing, she writes reviews for the Washington Independent Review of Books and conducts and publishes interview on a publication of International Thriller Writers titled “The Big Thrill”. She has been a Washington resident for many years, where she lives with long time Washington journalist and husband Jerry and their four cats. In her free time she loves to take photographs particularly of nature and animals, She has asserted that there is nothing more magical than capturing the slant of light in a nice setting, and if she could she would do that the whole day.

“The Heat of the Moon” the first novel of the series published in 2006 introduces Rachel Goddard the protagonist of the series. Rachel is veterinarian that has of late come to believe that her psychologist mother who has controlling tendencies may be hiding some terrible family secret from her and her sister. What follows is a battle of wills that culminates in a haunting secrets that Rachel has to live with throughout the course of the series. From the second novel onwards, Rachel moves to Blue Ridge Mountains, to the town of McLean, Virginia. The richer setting makes for some very intriguing narratives and characters in the series. Rachel tries to start a new life for herself in the beautiful mountain scenery away from her controlling mother and the horrible secret that came to light. However, try as she may, running away from her past is futile as it always follows her wherever she goes. She enters into a relationship with Deputy Tom Bridger from the second novel onwards and their relationship makes for an interesting subplot to the mysteries that they solve together.

The Rachel Goddard mysteries tackle a range of serious issues ranging from animal care, stalkers, family baggage, poverty, race relations and death in a non-preachy and very readable way that makes for some very good story telling. The lead protagonist and her boyfriend alongside a variety of interesting characters make for some interesting stories and dialogue, with Rachel’s backstory making for one of the more interesting of throwbacks. Rachel’s character draws a lot from the author in the stubbornness of spirit and determination towards achievement and the love for animals. On the other hand, Tom is just as stubborn and a man that will do anything to ensure justice is done, though he is a lot braver than Parshall. Tom loves his fiancé Rachel though it is evident that she is not yet comfortable telling him everything about herself and her family, and often does not let her feelings show. However, over the course of the series she teaches him the value of being less controlling and trusting her to make the right decisions, even as he draws her out of her emotional dark place.

In “The Heat of the Moon”, Rachel Goddard a veterinarian sees her world crumble when a client comes into her office carrying a basset hound that had been knocked down by a vehicle. It had been raining heavily and the dog’s owner’s baby who is drenched is so terrified leaving her confused. She gets lost in all the screaming and activity and starts crying for her mother. The incident takes Rachel back to her childhood when her sister had been just as distraught in a thunderstorm. The memory feels like a snippet of a nightmare, though it stirs up anguish in her being. Of course she gets nothing from her manipulative mother or from Michelle her sister who was too young to remember. Judith her mother is a psychologist but will not have her daughters question the family history or ask anything regarding their long dead father. With more memories coming back to Rachel, her suspicions that there is something very wrong with her family only become stronger. Fighting with her mother she sets out to find out just what her mother is hiding in a heartbreaking quest for knowledge, that forces her into an unthinkable choice and shatters her world.

“Disturbing the Dead” the second novel of the series opens to a happy Rachel who just bought a veterinary clinic and is getting used to her new life. She is loving her new life as business owner, single woman, and friend, and hopes that everything bad from her past life will stay in the past. But that is not to be as her hopes are soon dashed by a scandal she had almost forgotten about. Tom Bridges her new-found friend drags her into a case involving a woman that had gone missing for years, only for her skull to be recovered in the hills nearby. She was never prepared for the emotions she felt when she got involved with Holly, the niece of the missing woman who lives in the woods near the town. Rachel is so attached to the girl that she gives her a job working at the clinic and asks her to live with her at her house, despite the constant efforts of her family to have her living back home. Meanwhile, she is also battling her growing feelings for the young detective Tom Bridges who is also clearly taken with her. The mystery becomes more personal and complicated even as the two fight demons from their pasts that seem determined to destroy their present.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Rachel Goddard

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