"Campfires, Courage, & Convicts" By Tonya Kappes: Review/Giveaway

Review by Kathleen Costa

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of the book and a link to purchase it.

Goodbye New York! Hello Normal, Kentucky!

At first Mae West thought the change in scenery, the reverse in lifestyle, and the idea the past is past was the end of the road for her, but in reality, having her, now late, ex-husband arrested for fraud and taking possession of a dilapidated campground was the beginning of a new, more rewarding, road. Over the last few years, she turned Happy Trails Campground into a popular vacation spot, became an integral member of the community, garnered dear friends, reestablished a connection with her adopted family, and now, despite a bit of a bumpy start, is set to marry local PI Hank Sharp. However, Daniel Boone National Forrest is filled with more than flora and fauna, it’s also the scene of too many suspicious deaths entangling Mae and those around her. However, with a bit of help, and some hindrance, from the quirky Laundry Club ladies, along with a bit of luck, she’s honed new skills...amateur detective.

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Campfires, Courage, & Convicts Earns 5/5 Shots of Whiskey…Cozy Gem!

The Bourbon Fall Festival is an annual event in Normal bringing in loads of tourists to enjoy southern food, toe-tapping music, and the best Kentucky can offer…bourbon. Dotty Swaggert was excited to see in the Gazette the photo of her and the Mae enjoying the festival, but again the reporter Waldo Willy preferred stirring the pot with controversy. He never printed anything untruthful, but seeing gossip in black and white makes it harder to ignore. The front page instead had a photo of Alex Elliott, with an angry fist directed at another man, illustrating an article about the rumors of financial difficulties for his father’s T. Elliott Distillery. Mae had witnessed Alex arguing with the man and a woman she didn’t recognize, and Tucker Pyle, the park ranger, intervened before it turned physical. Unfortunately, Alex couldn’t hold his tongue and many heard his final threat, “I swear I will kill you before you destroy my family and its legacy.”

Hank Sharp and Jerry Truman, both former sheriffs, are partners in the local PI firm, and even Mae, unofficial that is, has assisted them with some of their cases. T. Elliott had come into the office with Alex wanting to hire the firm to locate his missing wife Anna. The same woman Mae saw when Alex was threatening a man she didn’t recognize. The same woman whose ten-year prenup just expired. The same woman who gained controlling interest in the distillery. The same woman who is now dead. Of course, finding a killer is a dangerous pastime for Mae, but reining in a pushy, tabloid-style reporter may be the death of her.

Cheers! Tonya Kappes has made this twenty-seventh book in her long-running series, A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery, just as entertaining, clever, and hard to put down. The series follows a natural progression of events: girl forced to reinvent herself, then boy meets girl, boy arrests girl for murder, girl forgives boy, boy and girl fall in love, then argue, part ways, and ultimately reunite. It continues to be entertaining to follow the trials and triumphants of Mae and her gang, and the series as a whole can’t be missed. Being a Kentuckian, and having her own camper (RV), Tonya has the personal experience to bring the outdoors IN to her books with descriptive language of the flora and fauna in the national forest along with camper lifestyle, small town connections, and pure southern culture.

Although an engaging lead up and introduction to new characters, the actual crime occurs later in the book, but the often surprising clues, various theories, dysfunctional family dynamic, missing suspects, another body, and perilous arrest had me savoring every page. The cozy mystery was totally engaging with greed, jealousy, retribution, and a power struggle as reasonable motives, and definitely the pegs on which to hang the characters. But the book is more than that. It’s the debate about the “no date yet” wedding, issues with the former, now convicted, preacher and his shocking replacement, another convict vying for an early “good behavior” release, visiting close friends, and exploring new trails, coffee, food, and best yet…burns that I can’t wait to use myself like, “It ain’t none of your business,” Dottie murmured. “If I wanted to include you, you’d gotten an invitation.” Top favorite!

Extra Treat! This series always has some tasty treats and helpful ideas for any level of camper: Recipes and Camping Hacks from Mae West and the Laundry Club Ladies. Try Gert Hobson’s Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, Coffee Can Bread, Campfire Cast Iron Sausage Dip! Camping Hacks include (1) space saving ideas, (2) single serving campfire coffee trick, and (3) all hail to the “duck tape.”

Amazon Preorder Alerts! The next mystery for Mae and company is the twenty-eighth book, Trapping, Turkeys, & Thanksgiving, releasing November release, and the twenty-ninth book, Gifts, Glamping, & Glocks, is set for December. Don’t miss a single one!

Be a Big Fan of Tonya Kappes!

“Southern Hospitality with a Smidgen of Homicide!” USA Today bestselling author Tonya Kappes pens a variety of series. With this Camper & Criminals Cozy series, she also has Mail Carrier Cozy Mystery and Holiday Cozy Mystery along with exciting ghostly-, magical-, and caffeinated-themed series. For ghosts, she has Ghostly Southern Mystery and Kenni Lowry series. Add some magic with a Magical Cures Mystery and Spies and Spells series. And finally, get a little caffeinated with her Killer Coffee Mystery. She also has an enjoyable online presence and various events enticing fans to gather to talk, share, and partake in the fun!

Facebook – Author Tonya Kappes

Join the “Cozy Krew”

Become a Member at the Website – Tonya Kappes

YouTube — Tonya Kappes

To enter to win an ebook copy of Campfires, Courage, & Convicts, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "campfire,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 8, 2022. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode goes up next week.

You can use this link to purchase the book or click here. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Wonderful series! Thank your for the chance.

  2. This is such a fun series. I love this whole town. ckmbeg (at) gmail (dot) com

  3. Hard to think this is book 27.
    Sounds good. thanks

  4. Sounds really good!

  5. Sounds really good! Busyjo(@) hotmail.com

  6. I love this series! Thanks for the chance!

  7. I love this series!

  8. My husband and I love Tonya Kappes books. Thank you for a chance to win.

  9. Fan of this author! Thanks for the info and the chance to win! lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com

  10. We have a winner!
    Lorie Ham


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