TRACE OF EVIL by Alice Blanchard


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Detective Natalie Lockhart seeks to solve the brutal murder of a friend—which may connect to the slaying of her own sister 20 years earlier.

Centuries ago, three women were executed for witchcraft in Burning Lake, New York. Perhaps because of this violent history, it’s almost a rite of passage for Burning Lake teens to flirt with Wicca and darker forms of witchcraft. But when a high school teacher is found murdered in her home, the exploration doesn’t seem quite so innocent, especially when a poppet, a kind of black magic voodoo doll, is found buried in the teacher’s garden. Natalie can feel the dark influence everywhere; in addition to the murder investigation, she’s been assigned to investigate the disappearances of nine transients over the past several years. When she discovers the desiccated corpses of tortured crows at more than one of the sites where the missing people were last seen, it becomes more and more obvious that there is something—or someone—dark and deadly at work in Burning Lake, someone who may even have been responsible for the murder of Natalie’s own sister 20 years before and who hasn’t stopped killing since. There are a number of crimes being investigated in this novel and a lot of movement between past and present, but for the most part, Blanchard (A Breath After Drowning, 2018, etc.) successfully navigates these complexities and keeps the reader, and the story, grounded with the appealing character of Natalie. Dogged, empathetic, courageous, and driven by her own childhood trauma, she leaves no stone unturned, even if it means investigating people she loves. Blanchard indicates this is the first of many Lockhart mysteries to come—good news!

A fast-paced, intricate, and atmospheric mystery that introduces a plucky, engaging detective.

Pub Date: Dec. 3rd, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-250-20571-1
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2019


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