Pub Date: March 13, 2018
Publisher: Minotaur (St. Martin's)
Length: 353 pages
POV: 3rd, past
FTC: Review copy courtesy of the publisher
After two recent mysteries fell a little flat for me, it was a bit refreshing to see some solid characterization and emotion again. I'm primarily a romance reader, although I've always read mysteries and urban fantasy, too. I tend to gravitate towards the books that show rather than tell. Those that grip you by your emotions. This book is one of the good ones.
This is Daugherty's first adult book, having previously written YA under a different name. You couldn't tell if you hadn't read the author's bio. She does an excellent job with the grit and gore of two messy crime scenes without playing up the shock factor. I appreciated that. Enough detail to get the point, without wallowing in the carnage.
Harper McClain is a a local crime reporter in Savannah. She listens to the scanner and spends her nights chasing down crime scenes and hoping for a page one story. What most of her friends and colleagues don't know is that her mother was murdered over a decade ago, and she was the one to find the body. The emotional scars and inevitable fallout of the murder both fuel her passion for covering crime, and make her leery of forming close attachments. Until a similar murder happens on her beat.
The mystery in this book is top notch, but I had some issues with the pacing and plot towards the end. I'm not a fan of loose threads, and there are dozens. Worse for me, though, is that we see Harper spiraling out of control, taking stupid risks, and making dumb decisions... but I just didn't quite buy her obsession. I can't quite put my finger on why. I also had a REALLY hard time swallowing the idea that Harper wouldn't immediately grasp political power plays going on in the police department. Not after practically growing up around cops. She seemed surprised to hear just how much damage can be done to a cop's career by pissing off the wrong person. Which is weird.
I am not a fan of sequel bait. The last chapter felt like obvious bait to me. Not only do we not get any sort of closure with the romantic elements in the story, we are left with only 1 of 2 mysteries solved. It bugged me.
Overall, though, I loved how immersive the book was, how the wide cast of characters were never just throwaway cardboard cutouts. This is a really solid Southern mystery, set in steamy Savannah, with plenty of intrigue and suspense to keep you up late at night.
My Grade: B+
A city of antebellum architecture, picturesque parks, and cobblestone streets, Savannah moves at a graceful pace. But for Harper McClain, the timeless beauty and culture that distinguishes her home’s Southern heritage vanishes during the dark and dangerous nights. She wouldn’t have it any other way. Not even finding her mother brutally murdered in their home when she was twelve has made her love Savannah any less.
Her mother’s killer was never found, and that unsolved murder left Harper with an obsession that drove her to become one of the best crime reporters in the state of Georgia. She spends her nights with the police, searching for criminals. Her latest investigation takes her to the scene of a homicide where the details are hauntingly familiar: a young girl being led from the scene by a detective, a female victim naked and stabbed multiple times in the kitchen, and no traces of any evidence pointing towards a suspect.
Harper has seen all of this before in her own life. The similarities between the murder of Marie Whitney and her own mother’s death lead her to believe they’re both victims of the same killer. At last, she has the chance to find the murderer who’s eluded justice for fifteen years and make sure another little girl isn’t forever haunted by a senseless act of violence―even if it puts Harper in the killer’s cross-hairs…