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Black River by Joss Stirling

Title: Black River (A Jess Bridges Mystery #1)

Author: Joss Stirling

Published on: 30th October 2020

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

Black River by Joss Stirling is the first book in a brand new mystery series featuring P.I. Jess Bridges.

What do you do if a series debut starts with our protagonist finding a dead body naked. Let’s rewind there a bit: our protagonist, meaning Jess Bridges, is skinny dipping at Thames when her a dog runs away with her bundle of clothes. The stupid mutt did not leave the undies either. Took the whole lot and went on a joy run. While Jess’ friend Cory goes in search of the dog, Jess finds a punt floating nearby and decides to swim to it – maybe she will find a tarpaulin to cover herself while waiting for Cory to return.

A man walks by and at the same time, Jess reaches the punt and screams. Nope, this has nothing to do with the man finding her in her birthday suit. There is another man in the punt – in his birthday suit, with his head bashed in. Ouch!

The police are called in and the man (not the dead one) finds a newspaper for Jess to cover her… um, nether bits. The victim was a bursar at Oxford College. Days later, another dead body is found. It’s confirmed this is a work of a serial killer – he seems to be picking his victims off the swimming spots mentioned in Jago Jackson’s blog. Now, who on earth is Jago Jackson? He’s the guy who found Jess and the dead man naked.

If I have to describe Black River in one word, I would say Wackalicious! What a quack-a-lacking, mind-blowing, entertaining page turner! Phew! I always knew there is no limit for being crazy. And Jess proved me right.

In fact, I think Jess and I have one thing in common – we are, um, not normal, wacky, quirky, whatchamacallit-ky.

A serial killer, an online stalker and three handsome men (not stalker or killer) and our wacky little Jess, this book is a laughter riot. Yes, yes, there’s mystery too. In fact, not one but two mysteries. Um, nope, make it three. Jess is a PI so halfway through the case of the dead (naked) man, she finds another client.

We have Drew – Jess’s (maybe we are still together kinda) boyfriend who’s yoga-ing with a gorgeous lady in Austria. Uh-huh. He and Jess are on a hiatus. As if there is such a thing in a relationship! And of course, there’s Jago Jackson. Jess is in a book club and the ladies cannot wait to hear what Jago and Jess have been up to… (a little censoring required here…)

Then there is Michael. I will not tell you more about Michael though – I am curious to know how Michael’s relationship with Jess and DI Leo is going to play out in the future books. Speaking of which, DI Leo is the second main character in the story. Handsome looking, health-conscious detective who is dedicated to his work. Uh-huh.

Like I said before, there are three mysteries in this book. We have the serial killer and the troll who ends up stalking Michael. Then we have a domestic case which takes Jess to a film set where she meets a handsome actor. Jess seems to be surrounded by a lot of handsome men. Ooh, hotness!

Killing two birds with one stone – we are not talking about birds here, just saying… Jess ends up solving two mysteries. Each character adds a quirky flavor to this story. Jess is no doubt, quirky, wacky and funny. The rest of the characters are well-portrayed too.

The mystery keeps you guessing until the end. Quirky or not, Jess is best when it comes to investigating. Black River by Joss Stirling is a complete laughter riot – add some excellent mystery and sleuthing skills to it and all you get is a wackalicious story.

So go ahead, go crazy and read this wackalicious, mind-blowing mystery.


Many thanks to One More Chapter (Harper Collins UK) and NetGalley for the ARC. This is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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