Skip to main content

Book Reviews

All Good People Here

True crime aficionado and podcaster Ashley Flowers understands that small towns harbor secrets and that most of the people inhabiting those towns hide secrets of their own. Over time, however, tightly held secrets tend to dry up, turn to dust, and scatter to the distant corners of the locals’ diminishing collective memory, thus freeing them to resume their day-to-day, carefree lives. But what happens if one of the townspeople can’t forget? Can’t let go? Stirs up the past? Seeks the truth? 

These are the twists that drive Flowers’ recently released debut novel, All Good People Here. Set in the small town of Wakarusa in the northern area of Flowers’ home state of Indiana, the mystery/crime story unfolds in alternating flashbacks to 1994 and flashforwards to 2019.  

The flashbacks reveal insights into the unsolved murder of Wakarusa’s six-year-old darling, January Jacobs, a gifted dancer-performer far more glamorous and mature than her tender years should have allowed. At the heart of the flashforwards is January’s best friend, Margot Davies, now a thirty-one-year-old crime-beat reporter for a major Indianapolis newspaper. Margot has recently returned to Wakarusa to care for her beloved, ailing uncle but is soon reporting on breaking news concerning the disappearance of a five-year-old girl from nearby Nappanee. Margot quickly finds similarities between the two girls and begins asking questions: What really happened? Were the cases related? And was January’s mother, father, or twin brother at the root? Margot’s suspicions flare when many of the town’s good people, her uncle among them, seem to be hiding something. 

Flowers is an accomplished true crime storyteller and writes with authenticity obviously informed by her podcasting background. She masterfully captures the essence of the veil of fog that hangs over a community after the life of one of its own, particularly an innocent child, has been mysteriously stolen. That noted, however, parts of the story she tells may leave readers wanting more.  

Throughout the book, scenarios arise offering promising clues, while other situations contain revelations that could be the long-sought resolution. Still, a number of the expectations fall flat, exactly as they often do in real-life criminal investigations.  

In my own effort to document the 1965 unsolved murder of my high school classmate, I lacked a defining ending for the story. The killer’s secrets were likely too deeply buried to ever be uncovered. Such may be the reason for Flowers’ ambiguous conclusion of All Good People Here. Sometimes the truth is knowable to only the victim and the killer, and sometimes they both take the truth to their graves. 

All Good People Here is a page turner and an exciting introduction to Ashley Flowers’ promise as a mystery/crime author. 

Janis Thornton is a Hoosier author of nine books. Thornton’s works include two true-crime books — Too Good a Girl, about the unsolved murder of her high school classmate, and No Place Like Murder, a collection of twenty historic Indiana crime stories; three mystery novels; three central Indiana pictorial-histories; and her most recent nonfiction, The 1965 Palm Sunday Tornadoes in Indiana. She also is a contributor to Undeniably Indiana, a bicentennial project from Indiana University Press. 

Ashley Flowers is the Founder and CEO of audiochuck and author of the New York Times bestseller All Good People Here, a fictional crime thriller novel. In addition to her work at audiochuck, Ashley has been passionate about bringing her advocacy for true crime cases out of the studio by establishing her nonprofit Season of Justice. The foundation assists law enforcement agencies in solving crimes by funding grants that allow DNA testing for cold cases. Ashley was born and raised in Indiana, where she continues to live with her husband, her daughter, and her beloved dog Charlie.  

Monthly reviews of books written by Indiana authors are made possible by the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Awards and Indiana Humanities. Opinions expressed in this review are solely those of the reviewer, not any affiliated entity.