The Great Loveda Brown

The Idyllwild Mystery Series, Book One

Fiction - Mystery - Historical
264 Pages
Reviewed on 11/28/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

The Great Loveda Brown is the first installment of The Idyllwild Mystery Series by Jolie Tunnell. Set in the small town of Idyllwild in mountainous southern California, the book follows Loveda Brown, a tenacious young woman fleeing from her estranged husband, Billy Dunn. Loveda is on her way to Los Angeles when circumstances bring her to Idyllwild, wearing one shoe and with Billy on her trail. However, just after her arrival, she finds herself entangled in a murder mystery when the dead body of her ex-husband turns up unexpectedly. While the local sheriff asks her not to leave town, Loveda decides to solve the mystery herself and find the killer. But as the stakes keep getting higher, Loveda delves into a dangerous game where she puts her own life in mortal danger.

Fans of whodunnit murder mysteries will be ecstatic because The Great Loveda Brown contains all the ingredients necessary for a delicious murder mystery. Author Jolie Tunnell's page-turner of a novel feels like a cross between the hit Hollywood movies The Hateful Eight and Knives Out. Moving at a blistering pace, the plot keeps you hooked with its unexpected twists and turns, and you can't help but turn the pages in eager anticipation of what's to come. Loveda is a likable protagonist whose tenacious resolve and grit make you root for her from start to finish. I particularly enjoyed her chemistry with John Wyman. Any reader who enjoys westerns or a well-written murder mystery will find The Great Loveda Brown a thoroughly entertaining reading experience.

Sheena Monnin

The Great Loveda Brown by Jolie Tunnell is a delightful read. Full of quirky characters, strange happenstances, and settings rich in historic detail, The Great Loveda Brown starts off with fantastic pacing and doesn’t let up for a moment. The main character, Loveda Brown, finds herself on the run from an abusive husband and ends up in a town she thought would be a safe stopping place for a night. Unfortunately for her (and fortunately for the reader!) she has to stay a little longer than planned as a series of strange events unfold around her. Through every accusation, mysterious death, and odd occurrence, the great Loveda Brown uses her wits and courage to navigate to the freedom from her past that she seeks. The author delivers a mystery that has hints of romance and lots of surprises.

The Great Loveda Brown by Jolie Tunnell is sure to please lovers of mystery, cozy mystery, and historical fiction. The author paints her main character with such energy and vivacity that the reader feels they know Loveda Brown and simply must find out what happens to her next. I appreciate the skill the author shows in introducing, developing, and, in some cases, eliminating, the characters in her book. Each person has a distinct role to play in the story and adds to the mysteries that permeate the town. Author Jolie Tunnell has created a believable, quirky, and loveable community in her book, The Great Loveda Brown. Once the reader finishes this book, they will want to read the rest of the series.

Ankita Shukla

Amidst the pine trees and mountains, unsolved murder cases are piling up in the small town of Idyllwild in this historical novel, The Great Loveda Brown by Jolie Tunnell. Chanting "Damn Billy Dunn," Loveda Brown escapes from her abusive husband, Billy Dunn, with her horse and a trunk. As bizarre as it was for a woman to be traveling alone in that era, Loveda relied on her strong character, wits, and determination to survive. Even though her journey from Texas to Idyllwild was uneventful, her arrival shook this sleepy town awake from its long slumber. In no time, the sheriff of the town began running in circles, finding corpses and investigating their murders. When the body of Billy Dunn was discovered, the sheriff considered Loveda to be the prime suspect. This hiccup meant that her plan to cross this town to reach her uncle had to be indefinitely delayed. Her husband, as it turned out, had a way of disrupting her life even from his grave. In a town full of dubious people, was there a way for Loveda to prove her innocence and find the real culprit?

The Great Loveda Brown is a blockbuster start to The Idyllwild Mystery Series. From the suspicious characters, the life of any good mystery worth its salt, to engaging twists, the backbone of a solid story, Jolie Tunnell has aced it all. Without making it too obvious, the author has instilled the attributes of an independent and feminist woman into the main character, Loveda. Our heroine knows what she wants in life and sets out to achieve it, ignoring the unconstructive opinions of those surrounding her. Like any normal human being, she too goes through periods of self-doubt and fears, but those moments do not define her decisions. The side characters, such as Miss Nelson and Thomas Fuller (the sheriff), are equally crafted. They have strong beliefs and memorable personalities. Moreover, the characters are truly relatable. In Miss Nelson, we find a person who is so much set in her old ways that she considers any change dangerous and absolutely unacceptable. In any town, there are a handful of such people, and that's what makes her relatable. This careful creation of the characters is one of the most impressive traits of The Great Loveda Brown. Engaging conversations and descriptive scene-setting are other characteristics to watch out for.

In terms of plot, the author has fabulously executed the first book of this mystery series. Jolie Tunnell has left no stone unturned in ensuring that the story remains mysterious and appealing to her audience. Every element of the book is so well placed that readers find themselves drawn in and unable to put down The Great Loveda Brown before solving the mystery. Filled with small-town gossip, a historical setting, beautiful story-telling, and an intriguing mystery, The Great Loveda Brown by Jolie Tunnell is a highly recommended book for fast-paced mystery lovers.

Peggy Jo Wipf

I finished The Great Loveda Brown ready to start another adventure with her. Jolie Tunnell creates an adventurous series of the early 1900s in the tiny mountainside town of Idyllwild, California. Loveda was running from her unfaithful and angry husband when she stumbles into the town of Idyllwild. Hoping to hide from Billy long enough to find an alternate route to her uncle's place in Los Angeles, Loveda hides in the closest hotel to the stagecoach exchange. The next day Billy's body is found just miles from where she is staying. She must lodge in town until her name is cleared. Another death keeps her there to hunt for the connection between the two deaths. Loveda draws the killer's attention as she gets closer to the truth. Can she avoid getting killed long enough to get justice for those murdered?

Jolie Tunnell skillfully draws her readers in as the mystery of the murders reveals a more cynical plot. The Great Loveda Brown is the first in her Idyllwild Mystery series and sets the pace and distinguishes the characters. The novel develops gradually into a fast-paced mystery. You can never be sure which of the locals have an ulterior motive until the killer is revealed and their past displayed. Through an intricate web of characters, history, and suspense, the author constructs a mesmerizing storyline. The characters are engaging while keeping an air of mystique. This novel begins a series that is fresh and innovative. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy good historical fiction.

Shrabastee Chakraborty

Idyllwild; the very name of the village evokes an image of an idyllic, quaint stay. Yet, when Loveda Brown hurried into a coach headed there, her only thought was to escape the clutches of her abusive ex-husband. Her worries came to a jarring halt the next day when she had to identify Billy’s body, shot dead. While this meant she wouldn’t have to keep looking over her shoulder, the mystery remained as to who had shot Billy. Was it the reclusive hermit who seemed to know more than he let on? Or was it the unsettled local woman who kept throwing pine cones at Loveda? Could the doctor with a failed sanatorium business be a suspect? In The Great Loveda Brown by Jolie Tunnell, Loveda’s inner detective is on high alert, especially after the body count keeps rising.

Jolie Tunnell’s book can be best described as a cross between a cozy mystery and a sleuth novel. The author has incorporated local myths and folklore with a classic ‘whodunit’ to create a unique blend. The misty pine forest where the mythical rougarou roams and the fifolets float at night serves as a perfect backdrop for hideous crimes. The forest and its inhabitants hide their secrets too well, and it is up to Loveda to unravel the mysteries. Yet, in a male-dominated world where women are patronized at every step and advised not to concern themselves with worldly matters, how can our heroine save herself, much less save others? I would commend Tunnell for presenting us with such a strong female character as Loveda, whose steady head and courage are as worthy as her pretty face and charming manners. The Great Loveda Brown will sweep you off your feet, readers!