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Murder. Mayhem. Intrigue. Racial tensions. When a charred body is discovered in the ashes of the Phoenix Hotel, all of these things are ignited and author Gwen Mayo pulls readers into a complex and well-crafted world of mystery and melodrama. Mayo’s former Pinkerton Agent turned detective, Nessa Donnelly, is a character that readers won’t soon forget. She left an impoverished past behind to become one of Kentucky's most prominent detectives. Mayo’s thorough exploration of the character makes her all the more sympathetic and is bound to tether readers to the adventure. This is a story that centers around a murder, but it is easy to suspend disbelief, as Mayo’s reach extends beyond the crime scene into the community and the interconnected lives of its residents. Mayo writes,”Rival forces are threatening to pull the city apart as the murder ignites old hatreds. Klansmen attack a local police sergeant with family ties to O'Brien.” This is story strikes a contemporary nerve and is more than a simple murder mystery as it delves into the complex dynamics of racial relations, small town interconnectivity, and human deceits. Concealed in Ash is a slam dunk and a story that I found both compelling and entertaining!