Heartbreak Bay – Rachel Caine

Gwen Proctor, along with her significant other Sam Cade and their two children, have recently moved into a sleepy small town in Tennessee, in attempts to gain some peace from the past. Gwen, formerly known as Gina Royal is a private investigator with a troubled past – her ex-husband Melvin Royal was discovered to be a prolific serial killer, before Gwen shot him dead, and Gwen faced significant scrutiny regarding her potential involvement in his killings. While absolved of all guilt in the legal system, there are those that believe she is culpable, and continually harass her family. 

Kezia Claremont, a good friend of Gwen, and a detective with the Norton, Tennessee PD, catches an early AM homicide – two small children are found drowned inside of a vehicle found in a lake. As Kezia has recently learned she’s expecting her first child, the case hits her hard, so she reaches out to Gwen for support. 

As both women investigate the murders, the search turns to the missing mother, Sheryl Lansdowne. With Gwen helping in the background, as the TBI takes over the case, she and Kezia soon discover that Sheryl has had many aliases – each time leaving death in her wake. But who is she really, and where is she now? 

 Meanwhile the torment begins to ramp up again for Gwen and her family – from messages on doors and vandals, to vindictive flyers being posted, and threats being made against them as things escalate. All too soon, it appears that Gwen has attracted a killer, determined to make her pay for the perceived sins of her past.  

As both situations continue to escalate, Gwen and Kezia find themselves united in the search for a killer, who lures them to his lair, determined to stop them both. 

Told from the perspectives of Gwen, Kezia & Sam, this was an edge-of-your-seat read for me, and one that I greatly enjoyed. I was unaware that it was part of a series, which I will definitely catch up with in the days to come. 

I also want to send good wishes, love and light to the author, Rachel Caine, who confides a cancer diagnosis, and its uncertainty, with her readers in an ‘Author’s Note’, bringing even more meaning to the title of this novel.  Yes, 2020 has been a strange journey, indeed…I know I speak for all your readers when I say you’ll be in my thoughts and prayers. 

I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an objective  review. 

The Winter Girls – Roger Stelljes

Special Agent Tori Hunter returns in her second adventure, and – trust me – you do not want to miss it! Tori has resigned her position with the FBI, returned to Manchester Bay, and has taken on a professorship at the Minnesota State University, as she and Detective Will Braddock build upon their burgeoning relationship, and Tori works to resolve her issues w/ her past in therapy. She is also consulting for the Minnesota BCI, most recently on a missing person’s case; a young woman who was last seen leaving a party several months ago. 

Savannah Devenish and her mother have just arrived at their family lake cabin deep in the Minnesota woods, for a family weekend gathering. With her father expected later that evening, Savannah’s Mom heads out for groceries, leaving Savannah creating videos with her smartphone. As Savannah works on a self-video clip, she sees the reflection of a man standing behind her and is promptly assaulted and immobilized. 

As Tori wraps up her class for the afternoon, she and Braddock decide on a new restaurant for dinner. As they head to Crosslake, they hear the call for assistance in the area. Being nearby, Braddock responds, and immediately heads to the scene. Upon their arrival at the home, it’s readily apparent that a crime has occurred, and they quickly ascertain that a teenaged girl is missing from the scene, with evidence of a fight indicating she was taken against her will.  When her phone is retrieved from amongst the couch cushions, the video Savannah had been creating shows the whole ugly scene, along with a glimpse of the kidnapper.  

With all hands on deck, the investigation ensues as they quickly begin searching for a van seen in the area.  When the vehicle is found incinerated, it becomes readily apparent that this is no ordinary kidnapping, but a well-executed operation. Tori & Braddock dig deep into the backgrounds of her parents, colleagues and business dealings, and learn several things, including the fact that Savannah was adopted, something her father neglected to mention. The team also realizes there’s a resemblance to the circumstances involving the case Tori was asked to consult on recently. 

When people critical to the case start winding up dead, the team realizes there’s much more to this than a simple kidnapping…and then a second girl is taken in a brazen grab off a sidewalk. As Tori & Braddock begin to put the pieces together, an ugly story begins to emerge, and a major snowstorm is bearing down on the state…can they follow the trail and find the missing girls before it’s too late??

For those who have not seen my prior reviews of Mr. Stelljes, let me just state again that he is amazing! I ‘discovered’ his work a few years ago, and he rapidly became a favorite author of mine, and his character in that series, Mac McRyan, could stand up to any number of characters I enjoy reading – Lucas Davenport & Harry Bosch, just to name a few. Tori Hunter is no different, and once again, I found myself totally immersed in the story, reading well into the night!! Awesome, awesome!! Please give his work a try!!  It’s slated for a March 4th release.

I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an objective review.  Do you love to read?? Visit netgalley.com and start reviewing books today!!