Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they’ve failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.
But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up.
Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?
Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices: the girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.
“Have you considered that someone else could have done the stabbing, then this girl discovered him?” I say aloud, though I’m still just thinking it through.
“Then why wouldn’t she call the police?” Keegan asks. “Why would she run? She did a number of things consistent with guilt.”
“How long had they been seeing each other?”
“We’ve interviewed a number of their friends,” Rollins says. “They all say they weren’t officially dating, that they were just close friends.”
“Any history of fighting?”
“No one had ever seen them fight.”
“What about the girl? Any history of mental illness?”
There’s a pause, then Keegan glances back at me. “The girl . . . Casey . . . discovered her father’s body after his suicide when she was twelve. I knew the guy. He was on the force. Nice guy, nobody had a clue he was depressed or anything like that. Anyway, she was probably traumatized by that. Had therapy for a couple of years as a kid.”
I lean up. “Wait. So you know this girl?”
Keegan shakes his head. “No, I don’t know her. I mean, I interviewed her back then, after it happened, but she was just a kid. She was a mess. But I haven’t seen her in thirteen years or so.”
I make a mental note to learn everything I can about that suicide. “Was she on medication?”
“Not that we can tell.”
“None. Not even a traffic ticket.”
“So why would a person like that snap and stab a friend to death?”
Keegan laughs then. “Who knows why anybody murders? My guess is she’s been mental all these years and it just now manifested itself. Maybe Brent had another girlfriend and she lost it. We’re digging in to all that.”
There’s more, I think. I need to talk to her friends myself. I need to learn about her relationship with Brent, how long they’d known each other, what kinds of things they did together, how close they were. How she did relationships. Was she transparent and easy to get to know, or aloof and hard to crack?
Were there signs that she could be homicidal? Did she have PTSD symptoms that made her react illogically and wildly to situations that didn’t warrant it Did certain things trigger flashbacks to her discovery of her dead father?
I suppose if she had an extreme case of PTSD, coupled with other mental disorders, it’s possible. But it doesn’t seem likely. I’ve been that person who reacted violently to someone waking me from a deep sleep, and I occasionally vomit or break out in a heavy sweat when I hear a loud noise. But I can’t imagine selecting a knife, driving to someone’s house, and stabbing him. That’s premeditated, not a reaction to a mental trigger.
Wouldn’t there be subtle signs that she had this in her?
The short take
I couldn’t put this book down!
I ummed and ahhed for quite some time before I decided to select this book for review. I started reading one of Terri Blackstock’s series some time ago and wasn’t all that impressed with it, and having read some of the mixed reviews for this book, was a little worried it would be the same with this one. But I was sufficiently intrigued by the premise and the sample I read to take the plunge. And I’m really glad I did, because I could not put this book down.
In some ways, this book was the opposite of what I would normally look for in a book. I like lots of dialogue and character interaction, but the protagonists in this book barely even meet each other (although they obviously do interact with other characters). There is no romance (although I suspect that will come later in the series). It’s even written in first person present tense (not my favourite) AND switches point of view between the two main characters (which can be confusing when they’re both written in the first person). And yet in the end none of that mattered, because it all somehow worked and . . . well . . . I just couldn’t put it down!
We’re dropped right into the action from the first sentence in the book: “There’s blood on the bottom of my shoes.” Casey is on the run after discovering her best friend has been murdered, and when police resources are stretched thin trying to track her down, the victim’s family hires Dylan to find her. Except that the more Dylan looks at the circumstances and the more he learns about Casey, the more he questions her guilt. And the more it looks like he needs to go all the way back to Casey’s father’s death thirteen years ago to find the answers he needs.
As Casey begins to establish herself in the small town of Shady Grove she inadvertently stumbles onto another crime, and this time she could actually do something to help the victim. But if she goes to the police, she risks being discovered. Then again, could she really live with knowing she could have saved the person, but didn’t?
Reading this was like watching a tense game of cat-and-mouse, except that the relationships are subtly shifting as the game progresses. The first person present tense really added to the feeling of urgency and meant that when the characters were on their own, either hunting or being hunted, the reader experienced it directly through the character rather than being told through lengthy passages of narrative.
I know many reviewers have noted that this book is a cliff-hanger, but to me it felt like the book closed at a logical point for the end of the first act. There was a definite climax and resolution in relation to certain aspects of the story, which also cemented a change in direction in the cat-and-mouse game, and so I didn’t mind it ending where it did – even if I am busting to find out what will happen next!
I received a complimentary copy of this book through BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.
Release date: 16 February 2016
Author’s website: http://terriblackstock.com/