STRANGER by Melissa M. Garcia


A Death Valley Mystery
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The first installment in Garcia’s (Falling Angels, 2006) mystery series is a thrilling whodunit that’s brimming with secrets.

In Death Valley, California, during a stiflingly hot summer, a mysterious man named Eddie Chavez is murdered in the middle of the night at a roadside motel. At the time, the only two other people on the property are its owners, Alex Delgado and her brother, Ric. After they discover the gruesome murder scene, it sets them both on a path to seek out the killer; along the way, they also face their own dark pasts. As with any good crime novel, there’s also a grizzled detective and a beautiful newspaper editor who occasionally blurs ethical lines: enter Detective Will Stellar and Erika Mack, each with complicated pasts of their own. Garcia keeps readers on the hook, making them want to know everyone’s personal stories, as well as who actually committed the crime. The main characters are well-developed; their personalities are fierce, but they’re also vulnerable and protective of one another. Detective Stellar, for example, isn’t entirely sure whether Alex is innocent of the murder, but he still has a soft spot for her. After he establishes a moderate trust with her brother, he promises to make sure that Alex will be safe, in exchange for information; Ric says, “I may have something, cowboy. I’d be willing to share, for a favor.” It turns out that Ric knows someone who may know who the killer is. With several books under her belt, Garcia proves to be a great storyteller with an eye for carefully unpacking a crime. She continually drops bread crumbs regarding the mystery, and readers can’t help but follow along and pick them up. In addition, she expands on the overarching question of who did it to focus on why it was done—an unusual change in perspective for this genre.

A quick-moving read with twists that will keep readers guessing.

Pub Date: July 26th, 2010
ISBN: 978-1450236928
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: iUniverse
Program: Kirkus Indie
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