There’s a widely-held fascination with the solving of decades-old crimes, not that I’m immune to such interests myself. Often the smallest piece of additional evidence, or one new pair of eyes to look over the existing evidence, seems to be all that is needed to bring the culprit to justice or to exonerate those wrongfully accused. These cases, however, can also serve to remind us that even in this ultra-connected age it’s perfectly possible for individuals to lose touch with former good friends or to be completely unaware of events that unfolded shortly after they moved away from a former home. Such is the case for Ella Townes, who spent a number of childhood summers staying with her grandparents and hanging out with her best friend at their respective lakeside homes. Now an adult, Ella takes a new job close to where her grandparents used to live, only to learn that the friend with whom she hoped to reconnect died while still a teenager: the victim, so everyone assumes, of a burglary-turned-violent.
Ella soon makes the acquaintance of Reese Ryan, who was another good friend (and secretly more than that) to the murdered girl, along with Reese’s sister, Cassidy. Ella worries that past events were less straightforward than everyone assumes, and this theory is borne out when circumstances make it apparent that Cassidy saw something on that night that might lead Ella and Reese to the truth.
I’m not a great fan of stories where we see into the villain’s head and witness their actions and thought processes as they cover their tracks or plan new crimes. I felt that the use of this trope here detracted from the main story and clued the reader in too early to the identity of the real killer. We got thrown a few red herrings along the way, but they served more to confuse the other characters than to enhance the thrill a reader often gets from solving the mystery alongside the heroes of the main story. I also found the eventual ending to be somewhat of an anti-climax with little satisfaction at the way in which the killer’s crimes led to a suitable punishment or any kind of catharsis for the victim’s surviving friends and family.
I’d like to read more from this author; some of the plot threads relating to the main characters’ work environments caught my attention, although the romance plot also failed to make a great impression. However, my next foray into her work may be in a different subgenre, rather than another mystery story.
Looking to find harmony, Ella Townes leaves a big Philadelphia college and returns to the mountains where she spent her youth. She quickly makes a friend—Cassidy Ryan, a woman with Down syndrome who is the neighborhood busybody and sister of a very attractive ER doctor whom Ella finds equally charming. Under the watchful eye of Cass, Ella and Reese begin a promising friendship. Then Ella writes a scholarship in memory of a childhood friend who was murdered, and things begin to unravel. The scholarship stirs interest in the cold case, and soon the murderer is maneuvering to protect his secret. After Cass is brutally attacked, Ella and Reese question her. The killer’s identity becomes clear, but after twenty years, is there enough evidence to bring him to justice?
Read an excerpt.