A body found by a high school drug dealer becomes the center of an opiate investigation when the dealer wants to trade his charges for information.
After recovering from a spate of murder revelations, during which she helped clear her boyfriend, Jake Crosby, of criminal charges, Gin Sullivan is ready for a more low-key life in her childhood home of Trumbull, Pennsylvania. Her previous life as a Chicago medical examiner put her in close touch with death, but since she moved back, it’s all been personal. When Jake shows up at Gin’s volunteer job at a middle school, moody as always, his misery seems warranted. He’s just gotten word that his mother’s body has been found in Denton. It’s not that Jake and Marnie Bertram were close, given her ongoing struggle with opiate addiction. In fact, he hadn't seen her since he was a baby, but their estrangement makes it worse for Jake, who seems to process emotions exclusively through a push/pull of neediness and anger toward Gin. Even Jake sees his own self-destruction when he shows up for a dinner party he and Gin are hosting with high schooler Jonah Krischer, the boy who sold Marnie her fatal dose, in tow, with his hands tied behind his back. Vigilante justice is too much for Gin and Jake, so they call police chief Tuck Baxter to pick up their unwilling guest. Jonah, who as the son of a local physician has access to prescription pads, wants to swap his knowledge of where a body has been buried for a slap on the wrist in lieu of real charges. Gin feels responsible to help Tuck try to piece together the connection between Jonah, the body, and the local drug epidemic, but she fears her involvement in the case may give Tuck the idea that he can finally have her to himself.
With her primary characters and general themes established (All the Secret Places, 2017, etc.), Carlisle may need to work harder to re-create the movement and dark moods that made her earlier work so successful. Though this entry is well-done, it lacks the intensity that would justify its title.