Grandview, Colorado-based reporter Samantha Church tackles the 12-year-old cold case of a murdered infant in the fourth series mystery by Ferrendelli (Last Things, 2016, etc.).
Sam frequently visits the cemetery to pay respects to her sister, Robin Marie Marino, but usually avoids the grave of her own husband, Jonathan Church. Her daughter, April, brings her attention to the headstone of an unidentified, murdered infant girl that includes the number of a tips line. After noticing fresh flowers on the grave, Sam is curious, so she researches the case. As she uncovers new details, she tries to convince Detective James Page, who’s long been haunted by the unsolved mystery, to reopen the investigation. Sam is intrigued by a psychic named Dixie who says that she believed that the baby’s mother was underage—particularly when Dixie says other things that Sam knows are true. But it’s Sam’s own tenacious digging and questioning that move things forward. At the same time, Sam deals with personal problems, including her fight to regain custody of April, her alcoholism, and her own health issues. Returning characters from earlier books—newspaper publisher Wilson Cole Jr., Sam’s grandmother Frances Marino and her ranch caretaker Howard Skinner, newspaper editor Nick Weeks, and Sam’s mean mother-in-law Esther Church—provide support and conflict. Newcomers to the series will be aware that they’re missing some back story, but they’ll still be able to follow along. Sam is a likable character who makes no secret of her shortcomings, and the story is fast-paced and engaging. Canny mystery fans will identify the main suspects early on, though, and few will be surprised by the culprit’s identity. Occasional substitutions of near-homophones (such as “she took a shuttering breath”) are distracting and could have been resolved by stronger editing. The descriptions are generally solid, although the author neglects to describe Sam herself, allowing the reader to see her only through her own eyes (self-critical, focusing on her weight and personal flaws) or some others’ (adulation, mentioning her beauty).
A pleasant, cozy mystery, offering an unusual setting and an engaging heroine.