Category Archives: JR Backlund

Review: Down the Broken Road by J.R. Backlund

Title: Down the Broken Road by J.R. Backlund
Rachel Carver Series Book Two
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 267 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Fans of J. T. Ellison and Tami Hoag will find a new favorite in J. R. Backlund’s second installment of the Rachel Carver mysteries.

Ex-SBI agent Rachel Carver’s past comes back to haunt her as she uncovers a trail of murderous revenge—and a horrifying secret.

Rachel Carver’s career with the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation came to a shuddering halt after her last case led to the collateral death of an innocent woman and a shameful cover-up by her superiors. She’s turned in her badge and is settling in to a new life as a legal investigator—but Rachel’s past won’t leave her alone.

An anonymous tip leads her to investigate a possible link between a recent grizzly murder and the case that ruined her career. With a new set of clues to run down, Rachel is determined to uncover the truth once and for all. But the killer strikes again, and in a flurry of confusion, Rachel gets pinned for a double homicide.

On the run and desperate for answers, she peels back the layers of the victims’ lives—and discovers a shocking litany of murder and lies that now threatens to claim even more victims. Even if Rachel can prove her innocence, she might not be able to save her own life in Down the Broken Road, the second pulse-pounding novel in J. R. Backlund’s Rachel Carver mysteries.


Down the Broken Road by J.R. Backlund is an adrenaline-laced mystery. Although this newest release is the second installment in the Rachel Carver series, it can be read as a standalone. However I also recommend the previous novel as well.

Rachel Carver is a former SBI Agent who is now working as a legal investigator. Just as she interviewing for a job with a legal firm, reporter Bryce Parker reaches about to her about the case that ended her career.  Then the law firm surprises her with the opportunity to re-investigate the same case in which veteran Tyler Larson was murdered. Despite Rachel’s doubts, her former boss at the SBI believed his girlfriend was his killer.  The discovery that another one of Larson’s Army buddies has been murdered breathes new life into the old case. In addition, Bryce has discovered a witness Larson’s murder. Rachel’s work on both cases has barely begun when she finds herself on the run from local law enforcement. Trusting no one except for her former partner Danny Braddock, will Rachel uncover the truth about who killed Tyler and his friend, Adam Hubbard?

Rachel is resourceful and laser focused as she tries to make sense of the events unfolding in the present. Although the police are certain they have arrested the person responsible for Adam’s brutal murder, Rachel is convinced his death is linked to Tyler’s. When she takes a second look at Tyler’s journals which detail his wartime deployments, she has new avenues to explore.  Rachel realizes her previous investigation into Tyler’s murder was incomplete so she begins searching for the other men who were also deployed with him.  With a possible motive beginning to emerge, Rachel inadvertently puts herself in harm’s way as she begins to close in on the suspects in the murders.

Down the Broken Road is a fast-paced mystery with an intriguing storyline. With puzzling murders to solve and quite a few suspects to investigate, Rachel is absolutely relentless in her quest for the truth. J.R. Backlund brings this newest addition to the Rachel Carver series to an action-packed, electrifying conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Crooked Lane Books, Down the Broken Road, JR Backlund, Mystery, Rachel Carver Series, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Review: Among the Dead by J.R. Backlund

Title: Among the Dead by J.R. Backlund
Rachel Carver Series Book One
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Ex-SBI agent Rachel Carver must hunt a group of killers on her own before time runs out in this gripping debut.

Former North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation agent Rachel Carver blames herself for the collateral death of an innocent woman in her last case. Unable to accept her superior’s attempts to cover up the incident, she turned in her badge. But when a former partner asks her to consult on a new murder case, she reluctantly agrees, traveling to a small, remote mountain community, where she’s tasked with leading a group of inexperienced detectives on a hunt for the killer. The trek has hardly begun when what seems to be the act of a loner proves to be much more as Rachel’s team comes under attack—and a detective is killed in the fallout.

Now that the stakes have risen, Rachel’s old employers at the SBI step in to take over the investigation. But Rachel, convinced they are on the wrong track, continues to work the case alone. And just as she delves into the town’s past, she discovers a secret history that connects the victims—one that makes her the target of a man who would kill to keep it a secret.

Perfect for fans of Tami Hoag and J. T. Ellison, J. R. Backlund’s gripping mystery debut Among the Dead is sure to be a knock-out.


Among the Dead is an intriguing first installment in J.R. Backlund’s new series starring ex-SBI agent Rachel Carver.

Rachel left the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation under a bit of a cloud when a case she was working on ended badly.  So when her former partner Danny Braddock, who is now the Chief Detective for the Sheriff’s department in small NC town, asks her to work as a consultant on a murder case, she reluctantly agrees to help with their investigation.  Rachel’s expertise is invaluable to the small department since they lack experience in murder investigations. There is little evidence to go on as they investigate Dean McGrath’s murder and after Andy Coughlan is murdered under the same circumstances, the biggest fear is a serial killer might be responsible. Rachel is certain there is a something in the victims’ pasts that lead to their deaths, but the SBI takes over the case in the aftermath of tragedy. However, Rachel is not convinced the SBI theory is correct but will she solve the cases before the killer strikes again?

Rachel is a flawed but immensely appealing protagonist. She can sometimes become a little overly involved and obsessed with cases and while this trait sometimes works against her, it does make her a an excellent investigator. With many years of experience under her belt, Rachel has plenty of tact and diplomacy and she does an excellent job guiding the inexperienced team during the investigation.  Rachel is very hard on herself and she tends to take on misplaced guilt when things veer off course.

While the killer’s identity is known right from the beginning of the novel, the motive for the murders remains shrouded in mystery. The murderer is extremely well versed in preventing transfer of evidence so the investigation is forensically challenged right from the start.  Rachel urges the team to focus their efforts on victimology in hopes they will uncover the link between the deceased and their killer but that connection is also somewhat elusive. A huge break seems to crack the case wide open but a shocking turn of events culminates in a devastating blow to the detectives.  Rachel is determined not let political maneuvering derail the investigation but will she uncover the truth before it is too late?

Among the Dead is a meticulously plotted mystery with a suspense-laden storyline and an outstanding cast of characters.  The novel is fast-paced with plenty of clever twists and turns. J.R. Backlund brings the story to brilliant conclusion that completely wraps up all of the  loose ends.  The Rachel Carver series is off to a strong beginning and it will be interesting to see what the intrepid sleuth will face in the next installment of the series.

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Filed under Among the Dead, Contemporary, Crooked Lane Books, JR Backlund, Mystery, Rachel Carver Series, Rated B+, Review