Category Archives: Pay Dirt Road

Review: Pay Dirt Road by Samantha Jayne Allen

Title: Pay Dirt Road by Samantha Jayne Allen
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Friday Night Lights meets Mare of Easttown in this small-town mystery about an unlikely private investigator searching for a missing waitress. Pay Dirt Road is the mesmerizing debut from the 2019 Tony Hillerman Prize recipient Samantha Jayne Allen…

Annie McIntyre has a love/hate relationship with Garnett, Texas. Recently graduated from college and home waitressing, lacking not in ambition but certainly in direction, Annie is lured into the family business – a private investigation firm – by her supposed-to-be-retired grandfather, Leroy, despite the rest of the clan’s misgivings. When a waitress at the café goes missing, Annie and Leroy begin an investigation that leads them down rural routes and haunted byways, to noxious-smelling oil fields and to the glowing neon of local honky-tonks.

As Annie works to uncover the truth she finds herself identifying with the victim in increasing, unsettling ways, and realizes she must confront her own past – failed romances, a disturbing experience she’d rather forget, and the trick mirror of nostalgia itself – if she wants to survive this homecoming.


Pay Dirt Road by Samantha Jayne Allen is an intriguing small-town mystery.

After college graduation, Annie McIntyre finds herself right back in her hometown in Texas. She is working as waitress and living with her cousin, Nikki Avery, when a co-worker goes missing. Annie and Victoria Merritt both work as waitresses and she is worried when Victoria fails to show up for her shift. They were both at the same party the night before on the land adjacent to her grandfather Leroy’s property. Annie has just started doing office work for Leroy and his partner Mary-Pat Zimmerman at their private investigation company. Although Mary-Pat wants them to stay out Victoria’s case, Annie and Leroy cannot help but trying to find out what happened to her.

Annie is quickly reminded of things in her past she would rather forget as she reunites with t foremer classmates she once knew. She has mixed emotions about meeting up again with Wyatt Reed, her teenage boyfriend who broke her heart when he ended things with her. Equally confusing is seeing Justin Schneider again. He is tangled up in a part of her history that she would rather not resurrect.

Although much about the town has stayed the same, the arrival of an oil company is a new complication. Many of the roughnecks are strangers but Justin’s brother Troy works for the company. Annie discovers he has a previously unknown connection to Victoria but does he have anything to do with what happened to the missing waitress? And then there is the hit and run accident that occurred the same night that Victoria disappeared. Is it just a coincidence these two events  happened near one another?

Pay Dirt Road is an interesting mystery that is initially a little slow-paced. Annie is very reflective as she tries to learn the truth about what happened to Victoria. Her family is a dysfunctional but she is fiercely loyal to her loved ones. She is a somewhat impulsive and sometimes confrontational as she searches for answers. The storyline is engaging and the setting springs vividly to life. With outstanding plot twists, Samantha Jayne Allen brings this suspenseful mystery to an action-packed conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Minotaur Books, Mystery, Pay Dirt Road, Rated B, Review, Samantha Jayne Allen