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Book Review: Dared to Return by J.J. Clarke

Kate Anderson has an exciting new life in Tampa Bay, Florida. An aspiring writer with a new book recently released, she’s left behind her old life as a court investigator in Kingseat, Missouri, but when she receives a frantic call from her ninety-two-year-old grandfather, she hops on a plane home. Just five weeks earlier, Kate’s step-grandmother, Helen, died, and not long after Helen’s death, Kate’s grandfather, Theodore, was thrown out of his home and sent to the Squaw Valley Nursing Home, a place where old people go to die. Unbeknownst to Kate, most of Helen’s two-million dollar estate has been left in a trust, not to her husband of twenty-five years. The trustee is a corrupt secret society known as HOGG, a group of important town officials who con elderly citizens out of their money, distribute it to charities, and take a huge percentage for themselves. Despite receiving a piece of Helen’s property, a gift Kate considers hush money to keep her from suing, Kate refuses to sit idly by while this group fleeces unsuspecting old people who think they are donating to the betterment of the community. She teams up with her spunky publicist, Susie Jones, and former US Marshall and newly appointed Kingseat Police Chief Reese Matthews to get her revenge and try to bring down this ring of corruption. With a family feud, a suspicious trust, and a fiery sleuth, what could possibly go wrong?

Kate is a protagonist to be reckoned with. She is the epitome of a survivor from a young age since her parents died in a plane crash when she was only four years old. Raised by her biological grandfather and step-grandmother, she has never had an ordinary life considering her grandfather believed his job was to make her tough. With a degree in law enforcement, she spent five years working as a bond investigator until she became the prime suspect in a murder investigation. Using her law knowledge, she gives US Marshall’s a merry chase as she works to clear her name. With two deaths tied to her, Kate is a tough nut to crack, and she isn’t about to let the evil forces at work in Kingseat get away with stealing from her grandfather. Her tenacity even causes her to punch a lawyer in court (and get away with it), and her endless costume closet presents unlimited chances to catch her prey red-handed initially in some humorous–and oddly satisfying–ways. She and Susie make a modern-day, irreverent superhero duo, righting the wrongs done by the evil, dominating force of HOGG.

Kate’s fight for justice goes beyond the boundaries of the novel. Preying on the old is a despicable act that, unfortunately, occurs often. Her need for satisfaction is likely a need numerous families have felt in reality. This “beautiful little town with an underbelly of evil” hits close to home in many ways for some, and Kate’s fight for her grandfather is a fight for every man.

This review was written for Chanticleer Reviews.