A possible hate crime and the report of a kidnapping bring a North Carolina lawyer more than she bargained for.
When 11-year-old Charles Oliver “Chase” Buchanan hitches a ride on a peach truck and brings a file labeled EVEDINSE to Mary Crow’s office in Asheville, he asks for help in finding his missing sister, Samantha. Although the boy’s plight touches Mary, she’s inclined to believe Chase’s stepfather, an ex-cop, when he says that Sam ran away with her boyfriend. Mary promises to follow up, but she has a bigger case on her plate: the murder of Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Bryan Taylor, who was beaten to death in rural Campbell County. The governor of North Carolina has appointed Mary as a special prosecutor to investigate the possibility that an evangelical minister who advocates concentration camps for homosexuals incited Bryan’s murder. With the help of Victor Galloway, an undercover cop in Campbell County, Mary tracks the last few day of Bryan’s life and looks into a similar gay murder in a neighboring county. Mary soon learns to her horror why Bryan was planning a documentary about lizards, what the significance of the number 74 is and how right Chase is that his sister has been kidnapped.
Even if Bissell fits the pieces together a little too neatly to inspire belief, the sixth case for Mary (Music of Ghosts, 2013, etc.) is a smart and well-paced mystery with a gutsy protagonist and a touch of romance.