A tough Florida prosecutor trying to prove herself in a male-dominated environment finds unsettling personal connections to a 1970s cold case involving eight abducted women.
Claire Talbot, 31, is acutely aware that few of her fellow lawyers in the State Attorney’s office (and none of the Gainesville cops) like her personally, and they only grudgingly respect her professional achievements as the youngest Felony Division Chief in the state. Schofield imbues his protagonist with so many “Strong Female Lead” stereotypes that it’s difficult to remember that Claire is a distinct character and not simply an amalgamation of overused tropes. When a road construction crew unearths two skeletons, forensics show that the bones are linked to the unsolved abductions of eight local women in 1977 and '78. What makes the discovery even stranger is that a mysterious man, whom Claire soon identifies as ex-cop Marc Hastings, left her a file about the case before the bodies were found. Despite her initial misgivings, Claire and Marc are soon working the case together—like any good cop haunted by an unsolved crime, Marc kept copies of the old files. Though Claire predictably falls for him, despite their massive age difference, Marc is less appealing to the reader, with his constant riddle-speak and his knowledge of Claire that borders on stalker-ish. The unexpected twist—which, if revealed, would deflate any suspense Schofield managed to conjure—is what allows Claire (and Marc) to improbably solve the case.
There’s little new ground trodden in this debut, and the jarring narrative shifts do the paper-thin plot few favors.