In this second installment of a thriller series, a woman returns to her hometown for a funeral and winds up in the middle of both a family squabble and a murder conspiracy.
Kelly Durrell has lived in Colorado for the past eight years but left her Morrison, Illinois, hometown two decades ago. She’s estranged from her parents, who never approved of her drug-dealing high school boyfriend, Troy Ingram. Her reason for being back in Morrison is the funeral of Uncle George and Aunt Sarah, victims of a brutal double murder to which Troy has already confessed. Word around town is that he claims he killed them because Kelly broke his heart when she dumped him prior to leaving Morrison. Surprisingly, his lawyer, Lizzy D’Angelo, wants Kelly’s help, as she believes someone coerced Troy into committing the crimes. Meanwhile, George and Sarah’s kids, Heidi and Ray, are feuding over the inheritance. Kelly’s dad, Jack, is executor of the estate, but his apparent apathy prompts her to step in and take a closer look at the finances. She soon suspects Heidi or Ray may have somehow orchestrated the murders. Her ensuing search for answers incites more than one individual as things escalate into assaults, kidnappings, and more killings. Maddox (Darkroom, 2016, etc.) so precisely crafts characters and backstory that Kelly’s involvement in the slowly building mystery is organic. For example, helping Lizzy can clear up the Kelly-centric rumor of Troy’s motive and simultaneously identify the person truly culpable for her aunt’s and uncle’s homicides. While readers are privy to the initial killings, the subsequent murders as well as a frightening attack against Kelly are shocking. The story is often bleak: The death of Kelly’s sister, Beth, a few years earlier seemingly torments her parents, and both Heidi and Ray are dubious enough to be behind the homicides. Likewise, the author doesn’t pull any punches, with a fair share of violent moments and one particularly unnerving scene that will convince readers to check their restaurant food thoroughly.
Distinct characters become embroiled in a dark, riveting mystery.