A battle of wills between officers of the law leaves a serial killer room to maneuver.
Recent widow Nell McGraw (Roots of Murder, 2016) is keeping the family weekly, the Pelican Bay Crier, going while dealing with her loss and the strain of raising two teens. Good ol’ boy Sheriff Hickson and Douglas Shaun, the recently hired police chief, get along like cats and dogs. To Nell, Hickson seems old-fashioned and ineffectual and Shaun overeager. But they’re the ones investigating what may be the work of a serial killer. The stains of racism and casual bigotry still permeate their little Mississippi town, and when the badly decomposed body of a young African-American girl is found, Hickson, who’s all for the easy life, claims the death was accidental. Next, a young white boy goes missing, and Nell takes a call in the middle of the night from a disguised voice that says, “The story is in the woods. You’d do well to look there.” Boyce Jenkins, the sexist bully Nell talks to at the police station, makes demeaning remarks and blows her off. But Hickson calls her back, and by dawn the body of the missing boy has been found in a well. Nell’s son, Josh, who’s interested in biking, spends a lot of time with bike shop owner Kate Ryan, a friend of Nell’s who, Nell is surprised to learn, has a relationship with town librarian Marion Nash. Another missing child, Josh’s biking friend, and another late-night mystery call stoke Nell’s fears for her own children. More deaths follow, further undermining Nell’s faith in the local law. She pursues her inquiries even though they may be setting her up as a target for a ruthless killer.
Part mystery, part thriller, part social commentary, and all impossible to put down.