Dear Ms Cassidy,
I’m always a little leery of reading suspense books. I tend to have a vivid imagination and that makes me wonder if the book will seem too realistic to me, especially if major aspects of my life are similar to that of victims in the book. I also don’t like to read the twisted, inner thoughts of villains nor do I care to read too graphic descriptions of blood and gore which often seem to be almost lovingly told. Nope, not for me. But your book strikes a nice balance between remaining suspenseful and weirding me out.
When two police officers arrive at Haley Lambert’s Las Vegas apartment, she just knows this isn’t going to be good news. What they tell her stuns and horrifies her: someone has brutally murdered her older sister. With only that information, Haley spends 10 hours pulling up stakes then takes a plane to Kansas City. She is now the only living relative of her eight year old niece and knowing that her rootless life is over terrifies Haley almost as much as taking over the care of Molly. But what’s worse is the news that Molly was in the house during her mother’s attack, might have actually seen or heard the killer and now is too scared to utter a word. The police are working hard but with no forensic evidence, no known motive and no obvious suspects, Haley worries that the case will grow cold and her sister’s murderer won’t be caught. Then the killer strikes again but instead of helping to solve Monica’s murder, it actually just muddies the waters. Who could have hated both victims enough to want to savagely kill them? And are the phone calls Haley’s started receiving only sick pranks or is the killer now stalking her as well?
I had a pretty good guess who the killer was and it turned out I was correct. It’s not that there was a neon sign that started flashing or anything but just something about that person made me stop and ponder them. Your other red herring suspects were given personality quirks or actions that could have pointed to them as the killer but somehow that just served to eliminate them for me. In your favor, I wasn’t entirely sure until the suspect really was revealed. One thing though, I hope that in end the killer has the standard two correctional officers in the hospital room at all times while receiving medical treatment.
I liked that the police officers relied on solid police work to try to solve the case and not fancy CSI forensic evidence. Both Tolliver and Frank are hard working, dedicated men. Tolliver’s world weary attitude fits a man who’s probably seen some awful things in his 20 years as an officer and I’m sure that most officers do have cases that still haunt them even years later. I think you struck a nice balance between the police procedural aspects and the need for dramatic tension.
There were some cliches in the story such as the resolution of Haley’s recurrent dream of fleeing something horrible and her associations with the tree house her father built that was still in their childhood home that Monica and Molly lived in. Also, Molly’s emotional breakthrough that allowed her to start speaking again was something I saw coming from the beginning. But I felt you did an excellent job portraying the confusion and fear of a traumatized young child and Haley’s ambivalent feelings about the changes in her own life. Since this is often a normal reaction to devastation of the loss of a loved one, I appreciated the fact that you had Haley’s grief be mixed with anger at her sister.
As far as the romance in the story, I liked it but felt that the already planned marriage shown in the epilogue might be a little fast. After all, Haley would still be coming to terms with the fact that her wandering days are over, still getting to know her niece and Gray as well. And as for Grey, he of all people should know not to rush things. Wasn’t that what he did all through the book anyway? On the road to a HEA? yeah I can see that but I’d like to have seen their relationship slow down a little.
I find that when I read a mystery book or watch a TV show, I need to wait til the end then reflect a little once I know how things turn out. That’s when I begin to notice any ragged edges of the puzzle pieces that the writers have presented to me. One thing that bothers me about this book is a revelation made late in the story. I felt that not only was it not really needed but it almost seemed to be trying to justify the killer’s motive. And given the fact that gossip apparantly flew through this small town, could this have remained unknown to everyone?
So, while there’s really not anything new or different done here with the standard romantic suspense plotline, what you do offer is a solid book with sympathetic characters. B- for this one.