A psychologically traumatized woman must decipher her violent flashbacks to stop a killer—and to understand her past—in Denton’s debut novel.
Kit Blume has been afraid since the day her adoptive parents found her abandoned in a laundry basket 24 years ago. She can’t remember anything from her first four years of life, except for one terrifying scene: there’s a gunshot, someone’s chasing her, and she takes off running through the woods. After an arsonist destroys her Cincinnati home, killing her parents, it becomes clear that someone still wants Kit dead. Denton’s protagonist clearly has deep psychological issues, justifying her immaturity and odd lack of life experience, but the character’s hostile personality comes off as one-dimensional. Kit excessively growls, snaps and slams, even pushing away her predictably good-looking neighbor, Grant. A letter from her deceased father reveals that her childhood home has been left to the church—introducing a minor subplot about embracing the Christian faith—and that her never-mentioned birth family may come seeking a relationship. Meanwhile, in a small northern Minnesota town, Harvey Trent’s Alzheimer’s-stricken father insists that he saw Annabelle Vernon the day after a tragic fire supposedly killed the girl and her family a quarter century ago. It doesn’t take much investigating for Harvey to realize that the town’s creepy chief of police botched the investigation of the fire. But someone still living in town doesn’t want the case reopened—evidence disappears and suspects are murdered. Kit’s flashback, if she can face the repressed memory, could solve everything. The story’s action-heavy plot maintains the fast pace required of a successful whodunit, but cliché narration (“Drop the gun…or I’ll blow your head off”) and several ultimately unanswered questions result in a book not wholly satisfying.
For readers willing to look past hackneyed prose and a few inconclusive plot points, there’s an intriguing murder mystery accompanied by a journey of self-discovery.