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Detective Mark Baker is an honest cop and an all-around good guy. After a chaotic night, Mark starts to reexamine his role in the system he no longer believes in. That's when an ominous letter arrives from his estranged sister. She sounds distraught, suicidal. Her words send him on a mission to a small midwestern town, uncertain if he'll find her dead or alive. Valley Mill Detective Mark Baker is an honest cop and an all-around good guy. After a chaotic night, Mark starts to reexamine his role in the system he no longer believes in. That's when an ominous letter arrives from his estranged sister. She sounds distraught, suicidal. Her words send him on a mission to a small midwestern town, uncertain if he'll find her dead or alive. Valley Mill is a quiet little utopia. Everyone gets along. There's zero crime. On the outside, it's exactly what Mark thinks society should be. But what Mark discovers behind the pristine fences and closed doors is far worse than anything he could have imagined. And he learns very quickly to be careful what you wish for… Black Voltage Series #16


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Detective Mark Baker is an honest cop and an all-around good guy. After a chaotic night, Mark starts to reexamine his role in the system he no longer believes in. That's when an ominous letter arrives from his estranged sister. She sounds distraught, suicidal. Her words send him on a mission to a small midwestern town, uncertain if he'll find her dead or alive. Valley Mill Detective Mark Baker is an honest cop and an all-around good guy. After a chaotic night, Mark starts to reexamine his role in the system he no longer believes in. That's when an ominous letter arrives from his estranged sister. She sounds distraught, suicidal. Her words send him on a mission to a small midwestern town, uncertain if he'll find her dead or alive. Valley Mill is a quiet little utopia. Everyone gets along. There's zero crime. On the outside, it's exactly what Mark thinks society should be. But what Mark discovers behind the pristine fences and closed doors is far worse than anything he could have imagined. And he learns very quickly to be careful what you wish for… Black Voltage Series #16

30 review for White Picket Prisons

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    While on suspension, detective Mark Baker gets a letter from his sister, whom he hasn't spoken to in ten years. With pregnant girlfriend in tow, Mark goes to the isolated town his sister lives to check on her. Will he be able to break Sarah from her White Picket Prison? White Picket Prisons is a fairly short tale of a town with its own set of biblical-inspired laws. Valley Mill seems quiet, almost idyllic, at first, until Mark and Gina figure out what's actually going on. It could easily be an ep While on suspension, detective Mark Baker gets a letter from his sister, whom he hasn't spoken to in ten years. With pregnant girlfriend in tow, Mark goes to the isolated town his sister lives to check on her. Will he be able to break Sarah from her White Picket Prison? White Picket Prisons is a fairly short tale of a town with its own set of biblical-inspired laws. Valley Mill seems quiet, almost idyllic, at first, until Mark and Gina figure out what's actually going on. It could easily be an episode of The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Dark Side. It could have easily been a short story without a lot of meat on the bone but Mark's feelings about the ineffectiveness of the justice system he works for give the story the conflict it needs. A few pretty chilling things happen in White Picket Prisons. Owen doesn't roll around in the gore and somehow I think that makes them that much more horrific. This is the second Kelli Owen book I've read and won't be the last. She really has the knack for dark fiction. Three out of five stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Janz

    Kelli is a friend, but even if she were an enemy, I'd read her work. She is a seriously skilled writer with a wicked sense of humor and a voice all her own. WHITE PICKET PRISONS is my third Owen book, and it's further evidence of why you should be reading her work. I particularly liked the character work in this one; Kelli is able to burrow under her people's skin with the grimness and tenacity of Buffalo Bill. So check out this novel. I suspect you'll become a fan by the time the first twist hi Kelli is a friend, but even if she were an enemy, I'd read her work. She is a seriously skilled writer with a wicked sense of humor and a voice all her own. WHITE PICKET PRISONS is my third Owen book, and it's further evidence of why you should be reading her work. I particularly liked the character work in this one; Kelli is able to burrow under her people's skin with the grimness and tenacity of Buffalo Bill. So check out this novel. I suspect you'll become a fan by the time the first twist hits.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Frank Errington

    Before I get to the review, let me comment on the cover art. It just jumped out and grabbed me at first look. Noted artist Alan M. Clark did a wonderful job and after reading the book, I have to say he really captured Kelli's work brilliantly. Mark Baker is a police detective, he's good at his job, sometimes - too often - defense attorneys are just better at theirs. It can be so frustrating to see good police-work go for naught, just because of some legal technicality. And it's been one of those Before I get to the review, let me comment on the cover art. It just jumped out and grabbed me at first look. Noted artist Alan M. Clark did a wonderful job and after reading the book, I have to say he really captured Kelli's work brilliantly. Mark Baker is a police detective, he's good at his job, sometimes - too often - defense attorneys are just better at theirs. It can be so frustrating to see good police-work go for naught, just because of some legal technicality. And it's been one of those days. Once married, now divorced, Mark is currently in a loving relationship with Gina who is carrying his child and at least that part of his life is right. What turns everything upside down is a letter from his estranged sister, Sarah. They haven't been in touch for 10 years and Mark reads the letter as a cry for help, even though there is no return address. Mark's PI friend, Reilly, helps to locate Sarah in the very small village of Valley Mill, Wisconsin. This is where things get interesting. White Picket Prisons is, at times, a very disturbing story. The scene that starts off with "...wet, sucking sound, like a suction cup being pulled from a steamed window..." was one of the most cringe-worthy scenes I've read all year. I love the little things in a Kelli Owen piece. Simple prose that adds so much to a scene, like, "A loose piece of cellophane from a cigarette pack floated across his path, dancing on the light breeze snaking it's way down the street like it was funneled between the buildings directly at him." Kelli has the ability to describe those moments many of us have had, so succinctly. "He tried to slam the door as he went through it, but the hydraulic arm prevented his anger from venting through noise and quietly pushed the door to a close." Damn, I hate it when that happens. Expect the unexpected from the beginning right through to the final page. This one comes highly recommended. White Picket Prisons is available as a limited edition hardcover from Thunderstorm Books or for your Kindle from Amazon.com.

  4. 4 out of 5

    David

    This is a fantastic book and it shocked me with it's many twists and emotional turns! My review can be read here https://wp.me/p5t5Tf-1ND This is a fantastic book and it shocked me with it's many twists and emotional turns! My review can be read here https://wp.me/p5t5Tf-1ND

  5. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    In recent years the horror genre has seen a rise in the number of books which delve into the extreme end of the spectrum, where sex scenes and over the top gore and action seem to reign supreme. However if you want to try a more toned down horror novel which makes you think then you should really look into trying a book by Kelli Owen - and White Picket Prisons is a great place to start. The plot of the book is easy to follow, a police detective who is demoralised by the job gets a distressing let In recent years the horror genre has seen a rise in the number of books which delve into the extreme end of the spectrum, where sex scenes and over the top gore and action seem to reign supreme. However if you want to try a more toned down horror novel which makes you think then you should really look into trying a book by Kelli Owen - and White Picket Prisons is a great place to start. The plot of the book is easy to follow, a police detective who is demoralised by the job gets a distressing letter out of the blue from his little sister who he has not seen in ten years. After tracking her down he finds her in a small village up north where if you break a rule they use unconventional punishment - an eye for an eye. I won't go any more into the plot but as the book goes on it really makes you think about how people are punished in the world; and the well written characters help bring this more to life. Whilst it may not be filled with hundred of murders it is a real page turner and will keep you going until the end to see how the main character reacts to the situation. I enjoyed how it changed my opinion on the towns punishments changed as the story went on and thinking back on the book a few days later made me realise what impact it had.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Annalise

    This was my 4th Kelly Owen read and she does not disappoint! Kept me guessing the entire time! Without giving too much away, a detective takes a forced vacation and spends it looking for his estranged sister... When he finds her, things seem to be a little... off. Has she fallen into drug problems (much like the criminals he fights to take off the streets?) is she the victim of a controlling abusive husband? Or has she been tricked into joining some sort of a cult? These are just some of the que This was my 4th Kelly Owen read and she does not disappoint! Kept me guessing the entire time! Without giving too much away, a detective takes a forced vacation and spends it looking for his estranged sister... When he finds her, things seem to be a little... off. Has she fallen into drug problems (much like the criminals he fights to take off the streets?) is she the victim of a controlling abusive husband? Or has she been tricked into joining some sort of a cult? These are just some of the questions I asked myself as the story progressed... And well, you'll have to read it for yourself to find out what's really going on! :)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mommacat

    I loved this book. It's a story about people. Yes, people. No zombie apocalypse to be found here, just people with all their foibles and messy ways. Author Kelli Owen takes her time building the plot and the characters and then takes a sudden swan dive into the horror that we never see coming. And when you do finally see the entire picture I'm quite sure that you'll be cringing and gasping just as much, if not more than I was. I highly recommend you make this your next read. I loved this book. It's a story about people. Yes, people. No zombie apocalypse to be found here, just people with all their foibles and messy ways. Author Kelli Owen takes her time building the plot and the characters and then takes a sudden swan dive into the horror that we never see coming. And when you do finally see the entire picture I'm quite sure that you'll be cringing and gasping just as much, if not more than I was. I highly recommend you make this your next read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jim Cunningham

    Chilling … and crazily heart warming at the same time. I often dream about the book I’m reading, and I was praying that wouldn’t happen with this one. (Thankfully, it didn’t.) I couldn’t take that. This one may feel to some like a short story that was stretched to novel length, because it has a short-story sort of plot to it. But it’s not PADDED to novel length, it’s fully FLESHED OUT to novel length. Big difference! She took what would have simply been a chilling tale and made it MEAN something. Chilling … and crazily heart warming at the same time. I often dream about the book I’m reading, and I was praying that wouldn’t happen with this one. (Thankfully, it didn’t.) I couldn’t take that. This one may feel to some like a short story that was stretched to novel length, because it has a short-story sort of plot to it. But it’s not PADDED to novel length, it’s fully FLESHED OUT to novel length. Big difference! She took what would have simply been a chilling tale and made it MEAN something. And that meaning is well established before we get to the lessons. This is definitely in the spirit of those old Twilight Zone episodes, which is a good thing. The characters are okay. The relationship stuff is oddly specific and on-the-nose in a way that often left me feeling that the author (perhaps still a bit amateur back then) was exorcising past relationships or airing of pet peeves and grievances (why else would we need to hear couple’s philosophy on the division of housework) -- a thing Owen seems to have gotten over in later works. This novel is deliciously suspenseful on many levels and at different points. (It does take a considerable amount of skill to scare a grown man and horror fan with the suspense of having the fuel light come on in a car, so definitely congrats on that!) It was honestly difficult to put down, but I did anyway, when I was sleepy or distracted, because Kelli Owen writes in a way that makes me want to consume every paragraph and never breeze over anything. I’ve read quite a few Owens’ and she’s brilliant in a way that I’m not sure she’s fully aware of. And, by that, I mean that she seems to do some things instinctually that turn out to be very effective and add to the profundity of the story. (And she’s always at her best when making a statement and not just telling a story.) This is why, as a fan of old ‘50s-’60s sci-fi and horror like Matheson and The Twilight Zone, I’m drawn to her work. Owen writes at a level, and crafts stories, that most other horror authors can only aspire to. “Unwanted memories floated through his mind like dust motes--uncontrolled little bits, visible only in the right lighting.” This is one of the books that’ll always be in my head and I’ll always be recommending to people.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lynnzy

    What an incredible book. I read 300 books a year and only leave a review for the top 5. This is definitely the best. This book was awesome. I read 200 books a year and only leave a review for the top 5. This was in the top five, if not number one.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Lee

    White Picket Prisons by Kelli Owen is an intense horror thriller. Incredibly intense. The story starts off as a steadily building dark thriller, full of suspense, dark sequences, and excellent characterization. About halfway through it turns to something much darker. I reached a point where the building suspense and absolute dread were almost too much for me. It was not something I could bring myself to read right before sleep. So, I set it aside until the next day. I had nightmares anyway. It was a White Picket Prisons by Kelli Owen is an intense horror thriller. Incredibly intense. The story starts off as a steadily building dark thriller, full of suspense, dark sequences, and excellent characterization. About halfway through it turns to something much darker. I reached a point where the building suspense and absolute dread were almost too much for me. It was not something I could bring myself to read right before sleep. So, I set it aside until the next day. I had nightmares anyway. It was a good call though. The horror, both psychological and explicit, manifests in spades in the last several chapters. Kelli Owen’s unique skill with developing characters and building a story is beautifully evident in White Picket Prisons. However, the warning about graphic content should be heeded. Readers who are used to dark thrillers may find Kelli’s unique venture into disturbing taboo horrors to be a bit much. Hard horror fans will delight in her daring. This is a truly captivating and horrifying story about people and the dark realities of our sense of right, wrong, and justice. Highly recommended.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    I picked up this book after it was recommended to me by a friend who knows the author. It was a quick read, with nice character development. The story was a little predictable, but the author did a really good job taking a horrifying idea and making it appear logical and possibly even preferable to what our society gives us. The ending was a little abrupt, and I was disappointed that the author did not resolve what is arguably one of the more important relationships in the book, and that decisio I picked up this book after it was recommended to me by a friend who knows the author. It was a quick read, with nice character development. The story was a little predictable, but the author did a really good job taking a horrifying idea and making it appear logical and possibly even preferable to what our society gives us. The ending was a little abrupt, and I was disappointed that the author did not resolve what is arguably one of the more important relationships in the book, and that decisions were made without the involvment of an important player. Overall, however, I would recommend this as a fun and interesting read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    A Pennsylvania cop goes in search of his ten-years estranged sister and finds her living in an odd village whose lifestyle and social rules lie somewhere between Amish society and Old Testament-style brutality that all participants not only agree on but embrace. The cop goes into this and discovers more about himself along the way than he probably ever thought he would. Five stars. And a new favorite author for feeding my reading and book addiction.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*

    Well-written and imaginative but mentally jarring. The end is a twist. One of the scenes especially - yech, disturbing stuff. It's a mystery for the first half and a psychological tormentor the second. Slower paced and without suspense, it's a novel focused more on the subtle darkness psychological thrillers hold. Review soon. Well-written and imaginative but mentally jarring. The end is a twist. One of the scenes especially - yech, disturbing stuff. It's a mystery for the first half and a psychological tormentor the second. Slower paced and without suspense, it's a novel focused more on the subtle darkness psychological thrillers hold. Review soon.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    WHITE PICKET PRISONS was a fairly good story. When all was explained and how the main character Mark handled it was interesting to read about. The ending was good too and pretty much what i expected in certain ways. Overall a good read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ken Jensen

    A bit of a slow start but then it really took off. I enjoyed the messed up "cult" and the different take on horror. The ending wasn't expected and would say that I like it more as i think about it. I don't want a typical ending so this was a nice surprise. A bit of a slow start but then it really took off. I enjoyed the messed up "cult" and the different take on horror. The ending wasn't expected and would say that I like it more as i think about it. I don't want a typical ending so this was a nice surprise.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Emily Warner

    Well written, gripping, and an instant attachment to the characters and the story line. This book will give you chills, and make you think about it hours after you read it. Owen has her own special way of making her readers think outside the box and think "what if..." This is a must read. Enjoy! Well written, gripping, and an instant attachment to the characters and the story line. This book will give you chills, and make you think about it hours after you read it. Owen has her own special way of making her readers think outside the box and think "what if..." This is a must read. Enjoy!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dustin

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Huh. So not what I expected at all. The first half of this book left me somewhat cold; I felt it was very well written but the characters didn't click with me at all and it all felt like preamble that went on a bit too long even though it read smoothly (a whole chapter about looking for an exit that has a gas station?). The second half of the book flew once the setting for the actual premise of the book appeared. By novel's end I appreciated that first half set-up...and understood that the chara Huh. So not what I expected at all. The first half of this book left me somewhat cold; I felt it was very well written but the characters didn't click with me at all and it all felt like preamble that went on a bit too long even though it read smoothly (a whole chapter about looking for an exit that has a gas station?). The second half of the book flew once the setting for the actual premise of the book appeared. By novel's end I appreciated that first half set-up...and understood that the characters were as they were to fit that ending. It wouldn't have worked any other way. My presumptions were...wrong. Who writes such a clean-cut stereotypical old-school cop like this? A couple like this? Koontz? Well...there are folks like this. And the black/white morality lens just might predispose one to make the choice our protagonist ultimately makes. I won't spell it out completely but I'll hide this review due to it being a possible spoiler regardless. Owen impressed me with this book. She handles a particular scene tremendously--by not obfuscating the horror of it but also by not wallowing in it exploitatively either. For a book about characters who have well defined moral codes that may seem out of place and time she delivers a lot of grey in a very subtle way and flips those presumptions. A book I keep turning over and over in my head now that I've finished it. A book that once finished I find to be better and more enjoyable than I thought it was midway through it. I'll be reading her other books soon.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

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  19. 4 out of 5

    Mary Kropiwiec

  20. 5 out of 5

    christopher russin

  21. 5 out of 5

    andy m timmins

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brent Abell

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dave Thomas

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nick

  26. 4 out of 5

    Reeda Booke

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda moreland

    I really enjoyed this book . I cant wait to read more from her

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chad Pence

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emily Bankert

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