It’s a beautiful Monday autumn morning in Prince William County, Maryland as Detectives Amanda Steele and Trent Stenson find themselves walking through the Leesburg State Park on their way to a murder scene. Two hikers out early had discovered the body of a young woman, nude and posed as if on display, with stab wounds to her torso and a black orchid laid across her chest. An interview with a park ranger leads to a tentative ID of the victim, Chloe Somner, as she was well known to some of the park staff for her fascination with the ‘mystery snails’, a large freshwater snail that had been sighted recently. The also learn that she attended a local science university.
Interviews with her parents and friends offer little clue as to who might have wanted Chloe dead. It appears that Chloe was well liked by her peers and instructors, carried high grades and was a popular personality on campus, with a passion for protecting the environment. A visit with her boyfriend Josh Ryder brings some unexpected news regarding their recent break up, yet Josh is stunned and tearful at the news of her death and has little information to add – and no idea as to who would have wanted to hurt Chloe. Searches of similar crimes in the area offer no results other than a similar death over 20 years ago, that appears to bear no similarities to the case.
Searches of Chloe’s social media yield some other avenues of investigation, including some messages that have Amanda & Trent taking a hard second look at Josh as their killer. But while he’s in police custody, there’s another death…this time it’s Chloe’s roommate. Now Chloe & Trent are seemingly back at square one…. Who really killed Chloe…and why??
If you’ve read my reviews with any regularity at all, you know by now that I love murder mysteries & police procedurals, and this is no exception. I read for guilty pleasure and not to criticize the authenticity of police procedure or proofread syntax – just pure enjoyment! So, I can’t say enough about this one either – I like Amanda’s character and am hoping to see her continue to evolve through successive novels, as her relationship with Zoe, and perhaps Trent grows! Another novel from Carolyn Arnold that’s well work the read!! Can’t wait for #5!