After a slow adjustment to life in Timber Creek, Colorado, the very private Deputy Mattie Cobb is finally starting to lower her defenses and get to know the people of her community.
Mattie had a difficult childhood. She was raised by foster mother Mama T after being abandoned by her parents. That was probably for the best given that her birthparents seem to have been involved in criminal activities. Although things worked out, Mattie doesn’t revisit the past much, and her friends and colleagues know little about her beyond what she chooses to tell. But her relationship with single father and local veterinarian Cole Walker and his two young daughters has made her open up a bit. She’s even gotten comfortable enough to welcome her brother Willie back into her life after many years of separation, and she looks forward to meeting up with him in the coming weeks. After Cole and his family discover evidence of a body on Redstone Ridge, Mattie’s expertise—and that of her canine partner, Robo—gets her called in for a search. But the body is just the beginning of a series of crimes up on the ridge, and Mattie and her colleagues are horrified by the brutality of the perpetrator. Worse still is an unusual phone call Mattie receives from Tamara, her brother’s girlfriend. Willie’s gone missing, and Mattie can only hope that his disappearance is a relapse rather than something darker rooted in their shared history. Mizushima boldly emphasizes her heroine’s history, connecting Mattie’s past with her current case and forcing Mattie to take a leap and share her story with colleagues and friends in order to catch the killer.
The development of an extensive backstory over a multibook arch (Hunting Hour, 2017, etc.) pays off when a police officer long known for keeping things to herself begins to confront her past and connect with those in her present.