A Florida expert at clearing cold cases meets his match.
John Jordan is both a prison chaplain and an investigator for the Gulf County Sheriff’s Department. Reporter/blogger Merrick McKnight, the partner of John’s boss, Sheriff Reggie Summers, wants John to help him and another friend, Daniel, a retired professor of religion, solve a tough case. Merrick and Daniel have been recording a true-crime podcast on the disappearance of 21-year-old Randa Raffield in 2005. Randa was a student at the University of West Florida, a beauty and champion swimmer whose car was found hundreds of miles away from the Pensacola rally she was supposed to be attending. She’d been in a minor accident, but truck driver Roger Lamont, who arrived on the scene moments later, testified that she seemed fine and did not want him to call the police. Worried about her safety, he called anyway, and when the police arrived less than seven minutes later, Randa had vanished and has remained unseen despite a massive search. Agreeing to help, John listens to all the podcast episodes he’s missed to bring him up to speed. Merrick and Daniel had managed to get interviews with most of the people in Randa’s life: her father, her most recent boyfriend, some college friends, and true-crime blogger and podcaster Nancy Drury, who the men invite to add a female viewpoint. Theories abound concerning the young woman who’d graduated from childhood abuse by her aunt’s boyfriend to drug and alcohol use and plenty of sex: Randa was suicidal; she was picked up and killed by a stranger or someone she knew; she ran off to a new life. Despite threats from someone claiming to be the killer to everyone involved in trying to solve the case, John becomes obsessed with finding the truth, something the self-proclaimed killer tells him will never happen.
Lister (Blood Work, 2017, etc.) packs this fast-paced thriller with plenty of social commentary and tops it off with a lollapalooza of an ending.