Hard Rain by Samantha Jayne Allen #BookReview #Mystery #Thriller

From the Tony Hillerman Prize-winning author of Pay Dirt Road comes Hard Rain, Samantha Jayne Allen’s mesmerizing next novel set in a hardscrabble Texas town dealing with disaster.

In shock and found clinging to a tree branch, Bethany Richter is pulled from thrashing floodwaters that have decimated the town of Garnett, Texas, and killed a dozen others.

Six months after solving the murder of a local waitress, Annie McIntyre is working as an apprentice P.I. when she’s handed her first solo case: uncover the identity of the man who rescued Bethany before he was swept downriver.

When Annie’s search turns up a different victim—shot dead, not drowned—Annie questions if the hero they seek is actually a killer.

Flexing her new skills while relying on the wisdom of her eccentric ex-cop grandfather, the case leads Annie into a web of drug dealers, preachers, and wayward drifters trying to make sense of life after a disaster. Annie’s own convictions are put to the ultimate test as long-held secrets, corruption, and violence are exposed like the ruin that lies beneath receding waters.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a free digital ARC for me to read and review.

What’s it about (in a nutshell):

Hard Rain by Samantha Jayne Allen is the second book in the Annie McIntyre mystery series, but it can easily be read as a stand-alone. Annie is now an apprentice private eye and ready to take on her own case. When her childhood friend Bethany asks for help finding the man who rescued her from a flash flood, Annie takes the lead and finds much more than she ever imagined. Full of red herrings, deception, and dangerous thrills, this story held me riveted.

My Reading Experience:

This mystery series is more on the hard-boiled-light side. It has the darkness and grit of a hard-boiled, yet, the generous mix of Annie’s personal life with the mystery gives it a softer, more approachable, and relatable delivery than its pure hard-boiled counterparts.

I enjoyed this installment more than the first book, and I don’t say that very often. The first book came in when Annie was mentally in a place that bogged the story down a bit. A fresh graduate from college, she didn’t want to be back in her hometown and didn’t know what was next for her. In this book, Annie now has a direction and focuses. She is not entirely reconciled with the idea of living in her hometown, but her feelings about that only take up a little space in the story. I felt like I got to know her much more now that she’s mentally in a more focused place.


One of the great things about Annie being a private investigator in her hometown is that she knows several people, and her cases involve a few people she’s known since childhood. This allowed me to get to know her without the story losing its focus. All the characters are unique and complex, and each has their voice, making them feel authentic.

Narration & Pacing:

The narration is in the first-person, with Annie telling us her tale. She allows the reader to be a Private Investigator alongside her. When she gets clues, the reader receives clues. The pacing is a bit slower to the point where it’s solidly a medium pace, primarily due to the hard-boiled, dark atmosphere and the speed that particular tone tends to take.


Garnett, Texas, a small town prone to flash floods because of the rivers, limestone hills, and creeks, is the setting for this series. Garnett is a small town with a dark side that allows it to sustain a few private investigators.

Read if you like:

  • Thriller series with private investigators
  • A relatable personal story mixed with the mystery
  • A dark and gritty tone and atmosphere

Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

Writing Quality10
Character Development8
‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness10
Use of Setting10
All scores, except the overall rating, are on a scale of 1-10. The overall rating is converted to the standard 5-point system.

15 Replies to “Hard Rain by Samantha Jayne Allen #BookReview #Mystery #Thriller”

    1. I wish soft-boiled was still used because that’s really what it is. It reminded me of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Malhone but with the tone and atmosphere of Paratsky’s V.I. Warshawski.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You don’t come across too many series where the second book is better than the first. Glad this one was. I like the idea of an apprentice private eye.

    Liked by 1 person

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