Category Archives: Earl Marcus Mystery Series

Review: Echoes of the Fall by Hank Early

Title: Echoes of the Fall by Hank Early
Earl Marcus Mystery Series Book Three
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Earl Marcus has faced a litany of demons in his time, but a grisly murder sends him spiraling into a vortex of long-buried secrets.

After losing a hotly contested sheriff’s race to the lackey of corrupt politician Jeb Walsh, Earl Marcus has had the worst summer of his life. But worst turns deadly when a body turns up on Earl’s front lawn, accompanied by a cryptic letter.

Earl finds a cell phone in the victim’s car and tracks it to The Harden School, an old, isolated campus surrounded by barbed wire and locked gates, and catches a sneak peek at a file labeled complaints, where he finds a familiar name: Jeb Walsh. Jeb’s ex-wife Eleanor had lodged multiple complaints against the school on behalf of her son, and when he contacts Eleanor, the horrifying truth begins to emerge.

Desperate to make a connection between the school and the dead man, Earl journeys into a world where nothing is sacred.


Echoes of the Fall by Hank Early is a gritty mystery set in rural Georgia. Although this newest release is the third installment in the Earl Marcus Mystery series, it can be read as a standalone,

Earl Marcus’s latest case literally begins in his own yard with the discovery of a murdered man. Unable to trust the local sheriff’s department to investigate, he turns to his close friends, Rufus Gribble and Ronnie Thrash to help him unravel the mysterious death. Earl’s search for the victim’s identity and that of his killer leads him a local reform school which has unexpected ties to his nemesis Jeb Walsh. Will Earl, Rufus and Ronnie untangle the twisted web that is inexplicably and unexpectedly connected to Rufus’s distant past?

With his girlfriend, Mary Hawkins, now living out of state, Earl is relying heavily on whisky to help quiet his demons.   Rufus and Ronnie grow alarmed as their friend’s drinking spirals out of control. With their help, he manages to stay mostly sober during the investigation. Armed with little more than the victim’s first name, a bookmark and a letter from the mysterious Dr. Blevins, Earl’s search for answers leads him to the Harden School which has a bit of a dubious  history.

Unbeknownst to Earl, Rufus is also struggling with the ghosts of his past.  When the investigation takes an unanticipated turn, he finds himself face to face with his own troubled and unresolved history.  Rufus is in the middle of revealing  his long held secrets to Earl when he is ruthlessly kidnapped and forced to reckon with the mistakes he made as a young man.

Despite a somewhat slow start, Echoes of the Fall is an intriguing mystery that is quite riveting. Earl is achingly fallible as he self-destructs after making a whisky fueled decision and the implosion of his personal life. Rufus reflects on his own shortcomings as he attempts to escape from his increasingly perilous predicament.   Hank Early brings this dark mystery to an edge of the seat, explosive finale.  Another deeply satisfying addition to the Earl Marcus Mystery series that will leave readers anxiously awaiting the next book in the series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Crooked Lane Books, Earl Marcus Mystery Series, Echoes of the Fall, Hank Early, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Review: In the Valley of the Devil by Hank Early

Title: In the Valley of the Devil by Hank Early
Earl Marcus Mystery Series Book Two
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 365 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Private investigator Earl Marcus thought he’d conquered his demons after vanquishing the malevolent spirit of his fundamentalist preacher father—but now, he must face something much more terrifying than the devil he knew.

Earl Marcus found new hope after confronting the unspeakable evil unleashed by his father’s fundamentalist Church of the Holy Flame. Now plying his trade as a private investigator in the North Georgia mountains, he’s drawn once again into a dark abyss of depravity, and murder.

Tasked with what seems like a routine job, Earl stumbles into a mysterious cornfield where an old mountain legend appears to have awakened. Just as he begins to hear rumors of a place in the woods behind a dark cornfield where a killer collects human skulls, his partner Mary Hawkins vanishes.

As the litany of terror grows, the poisoned spirits of Earl’s past return to claim their final victims. And on an old train trestle over a swift-running river at the edge of a cornfield Earl will confront his worst fears. Time is running out for Mary—and unless Earl can wrest her from the control of a secretive cabal comprised of some of the area’s most elite—and wealthiest—citizens, she could be lost to him forever in In the Valley of the Devil, the second harrowing installment of the Earl Marcus mysteries by Hank Early.


In the Valley of the Devil by Hank Early is a tension-filled mystery in which racism and corruption figure heavily in the storyline. This second installment in the Earl Marcus Mystery series can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend reading the previous novel for important backstory.

Private Investigator Earl Marcus is content with his decision to return to his small hometown in Riley, Georgia.  He is involved in a long distance relationship with Atlanta cop Mary Hawkins and in between their visits, he has plenty of business to keep him occupied.  While exploring a nearby cave with Mary, they discover a skull along with the puzzling message “Old Nathaniel” and “AOC”. Newly hired Sheriff, Doug Patterson, dismisses the findings but Earl’s curiosity is piqued. Turns out “Old Nathaniel” is a legend about a ghostly Confederate soldier who kidnaps and murders African-Americans in the area. When his friend, Ronnie Thrash, enlists his help with some strange goings on at a nearby cornfield, Mary disappears. Turning to his blind friend Rufus and Ronnie for help, Earl battles white supremacists and unearths a shocking plan as he races against time to rescue Mary before it is too late.

Earl’s friendship with Ronnie is somewhat uneasy and when Ronnie comes to him for help, he very reluctantly says yes. With an ominous sense of foreboding, he and Mary follow Ronnie’s directions for their rendezvous at the mysterious cornfields.  After Ronnie fails to meet them, Earl and Mary decide to investigate the cornfield, but the field is a confusing maze that is impossible to navigate.  Just as they are about to leave, Mary literally vanishes into thin air, and Earl begins his desperate quest to find her.

During his investigation, Earl runs up against newcomer Jeb Walsh who plans to use the small community to spread his racist rhetoric as he enters the political arena. Earl is convinced Jeb is connected to Mary’s kidnapping.  Earl also continues to stumble across other people who recount their sightings of Old Nathaniel to him.  As he attempts to make sense of these very confusing bits of information, Earl arrives at a shocking conclusion that adds to his urgency to locate Mary.

In the Valley of the Devil features a good versus evil storyline that mirrors true to life issues. Racism is an ugly but very real problem in America today and Hank Early incorporates this difficult subject matter into the novel with sensitivity.  Earl solves the mystery surrounding Mary’s disappearance but trouble still looms in Riley which leaves him in a quandary about his future. It will be very interesting to see what lies ahead for him and his friends in upcoming installments of the Earl Marcus Mystery series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Crooked Lane Books, Earl Marcus Mystery Series, Hank Early, In the Valley of the Devil, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Suspense