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  • By Bobbie Crawford-McCoy
    Oct 15, 2010
    "Looks can be VERY deceiving…" This is the 2nd book in the Merryll Manning suspense series; The Heath Farm Murders is brilliantly written in a crisp, first person narrative. This story follows Merryll as he travels to Sister Susan’s Health Farm. With a strict environment and a no-junk food rule, Sister Susan’s might be more than some guests had bargained for. The characters in this story can be somewhat eccentric, but they are also well-developed, very human and incredibly interesting! Scenic vistas, wide-open spaces and fire-scarred forests lend an uneasy, deserted atmosphere to Happy Valley that works well to builds tension and heighten the reader’s awareness. This smoothly-flowing suspense novel will keep readers hooked with surprising, unexpected twists and creative plot developments. Merryll Manning has his work cut out for him as he has to assist with investigations and watch his own back; with a killer on the loose, who knows what could happen next. The author has... More > included a very helpful list of characters at the beginning of the novel which readers may find useful. This is a highly recommended novel of suspense and mystery! Copyright(c) Nurture Your BOOKS --- Bobbie Crawford-McCoy< Less
  • By Molly Martin
    Jun 15, 2010
    John Howard Reid’s Merryll Manning: The Health Farm Murders is a mystery thriller set against the tapestry of an invented health farm located in the petite Blue Mountains township of Blackheath of New South Wales, west of Sydney, Australia. The Health Farm Murders is the second in a suspense series presenting Sergeant Merryll, Merry, Manning of the Miami Police Department. It was Wednesday, traveling on board the train was a group of men set for a week of health and revitalization at Sister Susan’s Happy Valley Health Farm. Sister Susan had booked the seats. No one realized a killer might be riding in the compartment with them. The health seekers themselves were an interesting lot, from chubby minister to a retired film exhibitor, to policeman, accountant, government workers and even an astrologer the lot had little in common other than a desire, or need, to seek a little revitalization and improving of health. The characters portrayed on the pages of the work are fictitious, however,... More > the storyline has been adapted using a number of true-life incidents taking place in varied locales around South America. On board the train this varied group of men meets and begins to appraise and irritate one another. Assignment to their various rooms only serves to continue the annoyance as the chubby minister complains there is to be no supper, the former movie house owner takes offense at the presence of the movie critic, the former sea captain talks non stop about his days at sea and the astrologer insists upon analyzing his compadres. Three murders later finds Merry up to his ears helping to resolve the crimes. Merry's expectations for some rest and relaxation have been completely dashed as one fellow guest after another is found dead. While The Health Farm Murders is actually a sequel, the work is readable as a stand-alone with no need to read the prior book to understand the main character. Merry Manning is not a formula gung ho copper, he is a little unconventional, urbane, and not particularly ego-driven or macho as is often seen in mystery, thriller genre. Manning sleuths his way between bouts of being bashed unconscious. Before long he has found reasons to suspect each of his fellow R and R enthusiasts, Sister Susan, the Health Farm manager Jeff Caldecott, and even the local police sergeant. Writer Reid paints vivid description of the locales to draw the reader into the action. His description of characters fleshes each to provide a good mental picture of each. I liked the lack of gore, viotlent outburst despite Merry’s head bashes and restraint from either capricious sexual scenes or profanity. I found interesting that setting for this particular work, on the other hand; uses geographical details relating to Blackheath and Govett's Leap area of Oz, are correct in physical detail, while the ambiance features of the town is made-up. Happy to recommend John Howard Reid’s Merryll Manning: The Health Farm Murders for readers who enjoy cozy type tales filled with trepidation, red herrings, some inconsistency, little overt violence, an absence of profanity all in addition to more than a little idiosyncratic humor. =========================== Reviewed by Molly’s Reviews molly martin =========================== Product Details and Shipping Information available from Amazon TITLE Merryll Manning: The Health Farm Murders AUTHOR John Howard Reid GENRE Cozy mystery thriller Paperback: 230 pages Publisher: (September 16, 2008) Language: English ISBN-10: 0557010063 ISBN-13: 978-0557010066< Less
  • By William Potter
    Feb 17, 2010
    Miami Police Sergeant Merryll Manning is on vacation at a health farm in Australia after answering an ad that promises a return to health and happiness. Just what he needed, or so he thought. Merryll's hopes for rest and relaxation are quickly dashed when a fellow guest is found dead. Available for the first time in North America, this is the second of twelve Merryll Manning books first published in Australia in 1985 by author John Howard Reid. Despite being a sequel, the book reads well as a stand-alone, and there is no need to read the prequel to become accustomed to the character. Sister Susan's Health Farm is set in fictional Happy Valley, based on Blackheath, in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, Australia. Author Reid introduces a large cast of intriguing characters, each of whom have retreated to the farm for their own unique reasons. His protagonist is no stereotypical detective; Merryll (Merry) Manning is a sophisticated, eccentric policeman rather than the macho, ego-driven... More > cops so common in the mystery genre. When a retired film exhibitor is found dead and the local police arrive, there is immediate friction between Merryll and police sergeant George Lambert. Lambert's police skills appear limited and Merryll questions the sergeant's ability to solve a homicide. Lambert points the finger of guilt at local thug James "Jimbo" Punter. Merryll suspects the sergeant has a personal bias against Punter and learns Jimbo once had an affair with Lambert's wife. Another guest is found dead. Merryll turns up clues that put nearly every one of the twelve vacationers, and even the proprietress Susan Delaflore, under suspicion at one time or another in the story. An enormous police manhunt for Punter begins in the vast valley. Meanwhile, the survivors of Sister Susan's farm set out on the final hike of the visit to Pulpit Rock Lookout. The hike is vigorous and dangerous as the author brings all the players together for an epic confrontation, but keeps the reader guessing the true identity of the killer until the final pages. The author has a knack for scene-painting narrative. His vivid descriptions of the mountain scenery and the simple accommodations of the farm effectively put the reader right in the scene, watching the drama unfold. Mr. Reid has penned a captivating, soft-boiled detective story with a strong main character, a terrific supporting cast, and a plot with twists, turns, and plenty of red herrings. He treats the reader to a tale filled with tension, conflict, and quirky humor. The violence is minimal and there is no foul language. I highly recommend Merryll Manning: The Health Farm Murders. This is an intelligent, old- fashioned-styled mystery that won't disappoint. Those who love a great whodunit will be hooked. Merryll is a superb hero and this is sure to be an entertaining, enjoyable series. More "Merry" mysteries please! John Howard Reid (September 16, 2008) 978-0557010066 Reviewed by William Potter< Less
  • By Tami Brady
    Feb 8, 2010
    Jacque Stengel- TCM Reviews Going on vacation to the world down under is a dream for most of us, but Merryll Manning not only gets to travel to Australia but to a health farm to learn about healthy living. A dream come true? Miami is the home of police sergeant, Merryll Manning who finds himself in his mother's homeland of Australia on a week long vacation to a health farm. He is first seen on a train with various other colorful characters also attending the farm. Each person brings his own fears and idiosyncrasies to the Blue Mountains. However, Merryll Manning soon finds himself in the middle of several murders and in the crosshair of the local Sergeant, George Lambert. The colorful characters all seem to be hiding something and it looks like it is up to Sergeant Manning to solve the crime. A local, who had an affair with Sergeant Lambert's wife seems to be the most likely suspect, but is he just the scapegoat for the affair? Can Sergeant Manning solve this crime before he loses his... More > own life? This book was first published in Australia and England and had a great following and finally a decade later it is being released in the United States. The story travels through roads that I have yet to tread and this author makes me want to visit with his vivid descriptions of the land. He even makes the desolate areas sound intriguing. I was a bit confused at the start of the story because of all of the people involved in the story so I really appreciated the cast of characters at the beginning of the book to keep them straight. This is a book you have to follow through to the final word. You never know when one character will reach out and just surprise you with something they did or had done to them. After I started to figure out who was who, the story flew and kept me interested until the very last page. I did find my vocabulary was greatly enhanced by the time I finished the book. It was an enjoyable read and I'd recommend this for anyone who is up for a challenge of who done it. I hope Mr. Reid gets to share some other adventures of Merryll Manning with the folks here in the U.S.< Less
  • By John Reid
    Oct 15, 2009
    "Merryll Manning: The Health Farm Murders" For the first American publication of "The Health Farm Murders", the text has been slightly condensed and rigorously revised. As the story was set in Australia, I found it easy to sell the novel in that country. It originally came out in a hardcover edition through a Sydney book publisher some years ago. However, although "The Health Farm Murders" sold out and met with ecstatic reviews, it never went into a trade or paperback format, so this is the first such edition. Here are extracts from some of the original press reviews: "Agatha Christie isn't the only mystery writer... Set in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, 'The Health Farm Murders' displays all the mastery of a Christie thriller." (Selwa Anthony on Radio 2UE). "Not a single dull moment... There's always something happening!" (The Mystery Magazine). "A lively narrative..." (Maria Van Zeller in The West Australian). ... More > "A thrilling 'thriller', set against authentic Blackheath backgrounds." (Blue Mountains Gazette). "An inventive mystery, worth our strong commendation... The author displays a very fertile imagination and considerable powers of invention. It is a measure of this inventiveness that the novel always commands the reader's complete attention." (Leonard Ward in The Canberra Times). "Top-class! A classic thriller with an intriguing plot, convincing characters and dynamic action in generous measure." (Gordon Pittaway in Writers' World). "Ingenious, well-executed and for the most part admirably conceived... Vivid and highly original!" (Catholic Review).< Less
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Product Details

First Edition
John Howard Reid
October 27, 2008
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
0.88 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
Product ID
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