Estranged eldest son returns to his Montana hometown to make amends to his family and solve the mystery of his best friend’s death 20 years ago.
The sequel to Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch (2011) finds Jordan Cardwell headed back to Big Sky, Mont., for his high school reunion at the request of Alex Winslow, a classmate who discovers evidence that their close friend, Tanner Cole, was murdered their senior year—rather than having committed suicide, as was ruled at the time. When Jordan tries to meet his old friend after-hours at a park, Alex is shot dead, raising Jordan’s suspicions higher and setting him on a walk down memory lane he could well do without, as well as an investigative path through blackmail, betrayal and murder alongside the beautiful and intriguing Deputy Marshall of Big Sky, Liza Turner. Along the way, he must navigate prickly situations with the family he hasn’t seen in six years, including his brother-in-law, Marshall Hud Savage, who’s not happy about Jordan’s return, much less his growing attachment to Liza, particularly since, as far as Hud is concerned, Jordan is the prime suspect. Unfortunately, despite a compelling premise and a solid framework for enthralling intrigue and a captivating romance, Daniels rarely captures the audience on either front. While there are moments of interest, the book is bogged down too often by clunky plotting, uneven characterization and hit-and-miss dialogue, not to mention a sprawling cast of characters and a dizzying amount of red herrings that make it seem as if the author herself isn’t quite sure what’s happening until the end of the book, when all the mean people get their just deserts and the hero and heroine their happily-ever-after.
Die-hard Harlequin Intrigue and Daniels fans may like this book, but readers used to more even-keeled storytelling and heart-stopping turn-the-page mystery/suspense will likely be disappointed.