A murder-suicide isn’t what it seems.
At long last married to Detective Steve Hurley, who's the father of her toddler son, Matthew, Wisconsin forensic investigator Mattie Winston (Dead in the Water, 2017, etc.) gets a call about another couple that isn’t so lucky. The bodies of Craig Knowlton and Meredith Lansing turn up at the Grizzly Motel with gunshot wounds suggesting that Craig shot his lover and then himself. The Sorenson coroner’s office has been short-staffed since the murder of Mattie’s co-worker Hal Dawson, and Mattie’s kind of distracted not only by energetic Matthew and teenage stepdaughter Emily, but by the return of her father, Cedric Novak, with a shocking explanation of why he abandoned her when she was only 4. So her growing suspicion that Craig couldn’t have killed Meredith is as unwelcome as it is urgent. But Mattie presses forward, rattling the cages of Craig’s wife, Pamela, and Meredith’s husband, John. She even looks into their family insurance policies, sold to them by her ex-husband David’s new wife. Just when she thinks she can’t handle any more news, the contractor clearing the land for a joint Winston-Hurley home calls and tells her he’s discovered a human skeleton right where she’d planned her new kitchen.
Overfilling her heroine’s plate does little to improve the meal. Less is more might be a better recipe for fans of Ryan’s forensic franchise.