Free From Sin

A Possum Gap Novel Book 1

Fiction - Mystery - Murder
266 Pages
Reviewed on 02/05/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Free From Sin is a work of fiction in the mystery, suspense, and psychological thriller sub-genres. It is intended for the general adult reading audience and was penned by author Karen Ann Hopkins as the opening novel to the Possum Gap series. In this truly gripping story set in the Kentucky countryside, we encounter three central female protagonists as their lives collide in the most unpredictable way. As one troubled new adult seeks happiness at any cost, another woman falls prey to dangerous manipulative influences. And it’s all left the local sheriff Sadie Mills to pick up the pieces before it’s too late.

It is always so refreshing to read a strong female-led work of crime fiction, especially when the cast of characters is as rich and varied as those that author Karen Ann Hopkins has so lovingly crafted. I particularly enjoyed the portrayal of the good-natured Lucinda Coblentz, a character I would not typically be drawn to, because the depth of psychology and empathy behind her characterization really drew me into her plot and made me care deeply for her welfare and that of her family. Every character in Free From Sin is given this vivid and well-considered developmental treatment and, when combined with the tense and exciting events of the plot, it makes for a mystery read that’s impossible to put down. Overall, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Free From Sin to fans of well-penned crime, thriller, and mystery fiction. A truly unmissable read.

Grant Leishman

Free From Sin (A Possum Gap Novel Book 1) by Karen Ann Hopkins is an adventurous psychological thriller that takes us to the wild back hills of Kentucky. Sheriff Sadie Mills is the small-town sheriff of Possum Gap. A mother of a young teenage girl, Sadie must balance the demands of a stressful job with the difficulties of raising a young rebellious teenager by herself in a small country town where not a lot happens. When she is called on to investigate a triple murder at a trailer home in the nearby forest area, it seems that big-town sex trafficking, prostitution, and drug deals gone wrong may well be at the heart of the problem. Meanwhile, in a nearby Amish community, Lucinda Coblentz has taken pity on a young woman who has shown up on the family farm, cold, hungry, and injured. Against all Amish rules, Lucinda has convinced her husband to take the young outsider girl in and help her recover from whatever is troubling her. When Sadie’s murder investigation crosses paths with the quiet Amish community, you can be sure that trouble is afoot and Sadie will require all her experience plus her maternal instincts to sort this mess out.

Free From Sin is a gentle (if a murder/mystery can be termed such a thing) and beguiling story that takes the reader right into the redneck backcountry that is the hills of Kentucky. In Sheriff Sadie Mills and her big-city new medical examiner and coroner, Russo, author Karen Ann Hopkins has created two wonderful characters that many people will be able to identify with. Sadie is very much your typical solo mother struggling to hold her relationship with her teenage daughter together whilst also trying to do her difficult job to the best of her ability. Russo is a big-city medical examiner who is an enigma. There is a reason Russo has come to this quiet backwater of Kentucky and one gets the impression that future books will explore these reasons. One also wonders about the potential romantic relationship that may or may not develop between Russo and Sadie. There is nothing pretentious or complicated about this author’s writing. She tells a story in a clear and concise narrative, with a beautifully paced plot and storyline. I particularly enjoyed the surprise revelations about Charlie that were woven into the narrative. This is a simple, yet immensely satisfying read and one I can highly recommend.

Delene Vrey

Free From Sin by Karen Ann Hopkins is a crime thriller based in a small Kentucky town called Possum Gap. Sadie Mills is the town sheriff, and together with Buddy, her deputy, she does her best to fight the growing crime rate due to poverty and unemployment. She is also a single mother trying to keep her daughter safe while fulfilling her commitment to the town. The town has an Amish settlement nearby, and Lucinda Coblentz is a devoted young mother who encounters a young girl at the local market. It is clear that the girl is mistreated, hungry, and dressed in threadbare clothes. The girl stays in her thoughts as she returns home. Charlie Baker has had a hard life and wishes she could escape. When the opportunity presents itself, she takes it and heads for Lucinda, as she seemed kind. Little does Lucinda know the danger she and her family are in. After a triple murder is quickly followed by another murder, Sadie has her hands full, and to top it all off, she has to get used to the town’s new coroner.

Karen Ann Hopkins has written a suspenseful crime novel. The characters feel authentic and deal with everyday problems that make them and the story surrounding them genuine. The book deals with prostitution, child abuse, and the possible effect of long-term abuse on a fragile mind. Free From Sin is the first book in this series and explores the Amish life and their interaction with the outside world, especially when the outside world places them in danger. There are descriptions of violence and suggestion of sexual conduct. I love the Serenity Plains books, and this series follows in its footsteps with strong female characters and a story of how circumstances can determine a person’s life.