THE STASH by Sandra Sperling.
People have fantasies about finding buried treasure, but for Sarah Altman it becomes a reality when she convinces herself that it isn’t really a crime to appropriate a large stash of money hidden by a meth dealer after he has a car accident. Every dollar will likely add to the time he spends in prison, so she chooses to be a good Samaritan and relieve him of the burden. Already contemplating a divorce, Sarah realizes that the money will allow her the freedom to do so with financial security—so long as no one learns she has it.
Deputy Nate Carlson has been giving protection to the dealer in exchange for a share of the profit from the meth. He’s severely injured, but before he dies, he manages to tell Nate where the cash is buried.
Sergeant Frank Devich, Nate’s widowed brother-in-law, questions Sarah, triggering a mutual attraction. Frank doesn’t recognize her as the young woman he’d left with a broken heart years ago, and he’s determined to have her. Sarah, however, resists involvement.
Nate soon discovers that only Frank and Sarah had easy access to the Minnesota gravel pit where the stash had been hidden. Desperate for money, he will do anything to get it.
5-Stars: Would you do it differently, under the same circumstances?
This is a story that brings fantasy to life for Sarah Altman. The drama is suspenseful, and the dilemma Sarah faces, creates a fine line between intention and criminality.
Author Sandra Sperling uses a blend of mastery and imagination to create a plot so realistic, it will keep you turning the page. Sergeant Frank Devich and Deputy Nate Carlson find themselves embroiled in a murder investigation, centered around an old Minnesota gravel pit. Old fossils, murder, crystal meth, drug money, a profile of an eye witness, a dear john letter, and more than one secret in rural America. Throw in a little romance and humor making ‘The Stash’ a fantastic small-town drama that will linger in your mind.
Chapter one sets the stage with a question.
… “How did your grandma get the money to buy this place?”
… “She got a settlement of some kind, is what I’ve always thought.”
… “Accident, divorce, inheritance?”
… “I don’t know,” he said. “She promised to tell me the whole story.”
I invite you to put yourself in Sarah Altman’s shoes. She is practical and approaches things methodically. I found myself asking, would I have done it differently, under the same circumstances?
Chapter 3 finds Sarah exploring the old gravel pit for fossils. Abruptly a landslide burst forth. Rocks crashed and shattered as they hurled past her. She lunged to the side of the gulch, scrabbling up the steep bank. A boulder tumbled close, striking an embedded rock with an explosive crack. Pebbles clattered as they bounced downward, and finally there was only the dry whisper of sand as it oozed its way to the floor of the gravel pit.
…A bit unnerved, but safe on the gritty bank, she examined the fossil she’d found. It was an ammonite in pristine condition over an inch in diameter. The limestone rock in which it was partially encased had broken away only recently, leaving the pearlescent coating intact.
…Sarah tucked it into the pocket of her shirt, buttoning the flap.
…Indecision fueled by fear paralyzed her. Should she stay here and be buried or go down and risk being crushed? Either choice could be her last.
…Leaving seemed safer, and she had about thirty feet left to descend when she heard a vehicle. Bob must have forgotten something when he’d left, because he was driving too fast. A heavy thud and the high screech of twisting metal were followed by a prolonged scream of agony.
What Sarah decides to do next, will change the course of events, in her life.
After you read ‘THE Stash,’ I invite you to read ‘Elisabet’s Will’ (another 5-Star family drama entwined with mystery and suspense). I look forward to Sandra Sperling’s next book.
Editorial Reviews (Book Marketing Global Network).
Review by Susan S. -VINE VOICE: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. Sperling’s Sterling Characterizations! Reviewed in the United States on November 27, 2022. Verified Purchase. Don’t we all fantasize about stumbling upon a huge stash of cash? After Sarah Altman does exactly that, she hatches a complicated plan—both for concealing the money and what she’ll eventually do with it. She’s an unhappily married woman who is able to reinvent herself after her windfall. To tell you this does little to impart the tour de force of ‘The Stash.’ It’s both serious and comical; both character and plot-driven.
Sarah and Frank (an ex-boyfriend slowly reinserting himself into her life) are both realistically portrayed, though, at times, super-human. Sarah’s a near superhero: she’s tough-minded and more than capable when it comes to self-defense. “Her shoes accurately reflected her personality: practical, uncompromising and virtually impervious to outside influences.” Frank’s super-human in a different way: his passionate and vulnerable nature allow him to tune into a previously unknown psychic side—at least when it comes to Sarah. What’s curious is that he hasn’t a clue that a former girlfriend—Lynn from his past—is Sarah. I kept wondering if he would ever realize this. My curiosity about this as well as other issues grew along with the tension.
I lost count of the comical scenes and situations. Sperling, adept at descriptions, writes this of a woman who Frank’s mother has set him up with: “She stood in front of him, the bright tangerine roses on the bodice of her dress rising and falling rapidly. She rubbed the nicotine patch on her arm and popped a piece of gum in her mouth, chewing viciously. She reminded him of a timber wolf devouring a deer carcass.” What a strong and funny mental picture this creates!
Similar to Elisabet’s Will, the first novel I’ve read by Sterling, we follow a rich cast of characters, as they go about their daily lives. Both novels beautifully depict Sisu—the strength of the human will. However, it’s amped up in Sarah. As I flipped the pages of The Stash, I kept wondering what would happen to reveal a crack in Sarah’s armor. Not to give a spoiler alert: life proves to be a leveler. I really came to care for the characters here and can well-imagine a sequel. Great storytelling! As in the case of the earlier novel, justice is served and the ending is tremendously satisfying!
Review by Lisa: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. Fantastic book!! This author always hits it outta the park! Reviewed in the United States on August 17, 2023. Verified Purchase. Just buy it. Fantastic book.
Review by MK Alexander: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. A Criminal Romantic Comedy of a Sort. Reviewed in the United States on October 10, 2022. Verified Purchase. Meet Sarah Altman, a middle-aged, Minnesotan trapped in a loveless marriage with a husband who has all but given up on life… (and worse, much worse). She is an unlikely heroine perhaps: emotionally closed-off, not by nature but as a matter of survival. But her life suddenly changes when she stumbles upon a few million dollars in cash— drug money.
She is of course no slouch, rather Sarah is smart, wily, cautious, and patient, and she has a plan. The way forward is fraught with danger, obstacles, and a suspicious policeman hell-bent on stealing the money for himself.
Author Sandra Sperling does a wonderful job building her characters, their idiosyncrasies, and their moral ambiguity, (including her own). In some cases, their downright evil nature prevails; there are some great villains to hate in this story. In no time at all the reader is rooting for her, despite her flaws, as she strives for independence and eventually true love.
The prose is breezy, competent, and very funny, but not snarky. We get a great taste of life in Minnesota, its brutal winter, its people, and general environs— a kind of stark realism. The Stash is an engaging read, a slow burn leading to a fantastic climax and… a happy ending.
Review by Lee Cluff: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. The Stash. Reviewed in the United States on February 25, 2023. Verified Purchase. Really enjoyed this book. Living in northern Minnesota around the mining industry. I could relate to the ups and downs of the industry.
Review by Mary Schmidt: 5.0 out of 5 stars. What a story. Reviewed in the United States on September 28, 2022. Verified Purchase. What a story. This book is part romance, part comedy, drama galore, and tossed into all of that is drug deals, stashes of money, and murder. Then more is added to give the story and turns.
Review by Evelyn Raida: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. I didn’t see that coming! Reviewed in the United States on December 7, 2022. One reason I don’t watch much television is because shows seem so predictable. One reason I love to read books by Sandra Sperling is because her stories are anything but predictable. And she always leaves you hanging on up to the last page or two which is a tough position to be in when you’re trying to figure out the who and why of the book.
Take Sarah Altman as an example. Sandra leads you to believe that Sarah is a good old country girl. But after just a few pages you realize Sarah is so much more complex, like a really good glass of wine. She is smooth, slightly intoxicating and leaves you wanting to know her better.
Is she a vixen, a coquette, who flaunts herself to manipulate men? Or is she the victim of a bad marriage to a bad man? Are her attempts to hide drug money acts of pure insanity or is she simply a scheming woman who enjoys the thrill and drama of defying moral boundaries?
It took me three readings before I was able to put this book down. The first time I raced through it because the plot took twists and turns that were not predictable and I couldn’t stand not knowing where things were heading.
The second reading was to see what I missed because I truly didn’t anticipate the story to end the way it did.
The third reading? Pure pleasure! This is truly Sandra’s best novel to date. Every time I read her earlier publications I said, “This is my favorite book!” And it was my favorite until her newest story was published. Intrigue within a homespun setting polished off with humor and a touch of lust will keep you reading this newest work by Sandra.
I admit to being left in a moral quandary. What would I have done if I were Sarah? I truly don’t know. All I know is that I didn’t see it coming.
Review by R Reader: 5.0 out of 5 Stars. Great Cheers for the Stash! Reviewed in the United States on November 26, 2022. I bought the book from the author. and what a great purchase! Sandra Sperlings latest book The Stash, is her best writing yet. Real characters with complex lives.
true life struggles, a marriage that just doesn’t work and the reprehensible reasons why. questions of faith in a all most retired cop that has seen much. Just how does his aggressive partner and brother-in-law play in to it all. Intricate Sarah, beautiful Sarah. Sarah has a secret!
A fiery ending not to be missed! and then of course The Stash! does money corrupt all?
We can only expect great things from Sandra Sperling! She just gets better and better.
Paperback: 359 Pages
Publisher: Independently Published (August 25, 2022)
Fiction, Romance, Suspense, Humor
Fiction (Contemporary Family Saga)
Fiction (Contemporary Family Suspense)
Fiction: (Family Life)
About The Author: Sandra Sperling was born in Nevada and began her creative life in Minnesota, where, as a child, she wrote a play and a short story.
Eventually, she attempted a horror novel, but it didn’t horrify. Her mother, while reading the manuscript, began to laugh helplessly and leaned against a door for support, sliding to the floor like a piece of cooked spaghetti.
Deciding she was a failure as a writer, Sandy switched to painting dry-brush watercolors. The pull to write, however, was too strong to resist, so while still in Minnesota, she again began to write, publishing some short stories and advancing to novels.
She currently lives in Kentucky with her husband, she enjoys taking nature walks, refinishing old furniture and reading.
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Twitter: Sandy Sperling3
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