SWEET AFTER DEATH  by Valentina Giambanco

SWEET AFTER DEATH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Several storylines converge in a remote town in Washington.

The gruesome murder of Dr. Robert Dennen in the tiny town of Ludlow, Washington, is beyond the capabilities of its police force to investigate, so a team is dispatched from Seattle. Homicide detective Alice Madison, her partner, Sgt. Kevin Brown, and crime scene investigator Amy Sorensen arrive the next day and begin a systematic and credible investigation. The primary suspect is Jeb Tanner, a cranky iconoclast living off the grid. The father of a number of children, he had quarreled with Dr. Dennen, who feared some of the children were suffering abuse. Before Tanner can be interviewed, there is a second murder, and it transpires that Tanner had also quarreled with the second victim. But Tanner has alibis for both crimes, and his confident defiance unsettles the investigators. Interwoven with this narrative are two others: Samuel, one of Tanner's sons, goes about his difficult duties at the homestead and in the woods, suffering his father's capricious demands and cruel punishments. This thread is paralleled by flashbacks to Madison's childhood and the miseries she suffered as a 12-year-old runaway captured by an austere woodsman. This experience is recalled in force as Madison gets to know Samuel and justifies her fierce determination to help him. But the investigation takes a different course when diligent police work reveals a wholly different suspect and motives, and the connection between Madison and Samuel plays no part in unmasking the murderer. It is revived in a coda but seems somewhat contrived at that point. This is a generally agreeable thriller, if a little low-key, and Madison is a sturdy character, but the sideshows detract from the main event.

A pleasant excursion into the wild of the rural Northwest.

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-63506-061-4
Page count: 496pp
Publisher: Quercus
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2018




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