A double homicide and a missing woman lead a detective to unearth disturbing secrets in this gripping thriller from USA Today bestselling author Debra Webb.
It’s the worst possible time for Detective Kerri Devlin to be involved in an all-consuming double-homicide case. She’s locked in a bitter struggle with her ex-husband and teenage daughter, and her reckless new partner is anything but trustworthy.
Still, she has a job to do: there’s a killer at large, and a pregnant woman has gone missing. Once Devlin and her partner get to work, they quickly unearth secrets involving Birmingham’s most esteemed citizens. Each new layer of the investigation brings Devlin closer to the killer and the missing woman, who starts looking more like a suspect than a victim.
But just as answers come into view, the case twists, expands, and slithers into Devlin’s personal life. There’s a much more sinister game at work, one she doesn’t even know she’s playing—and she must unravel the truth once and for all to stop the killer before she loses everything.
The title says it all. I remember thinking this very thing when I was reading it – wow, I have no idea who the murderer is, all of the characters are shady and hiding a secret. It really could be anyone.
So Kerri, our main protagonist, is a detective who is married to her job. This obsession forced her self-centered husband away and he had an affair. Kerri found out about it and divorced him. Kerri has a 13-year old daughter who is bitter about the divorce and seeks her father’s love and attention, only dad is busy with his new family to pay her much attention. As a result, the daughter lashes out and causes Kerri grief and anxiety which only adds to her difficult job.
I was glad the author didn’t spend much time on this dynamic. I feel like she spent just enough time to give the reader a glimpse into her history thereby giving the reader a chance to get to know Kerri outside her job. It served to show the reader that Kerri was human after all and that she has to do what so many of us do on a daily basis – deal with home struggles while maintaining our professional lives as well.
Falco, her new partner, is a mystery. He’s portrayed as a bad boy who was undercover for a while and his experiences while he was undercover somewhat “broke” him. Kerri is “saddled” with him and she’s not sure how to feel about him, she certainly doesn’t trust him. I liked the dynamic between Kerri and Falco – sparks didn’t immediately fly. Instead, they seem to be slowly building a relationship, a professional relationship, though by the end of the book, Kerri is starting to trust him and she’s allowing a few of her defenses down so that it’s implied that something more for the two of them could potentially be coming down the road. I do wish Webb had written Falco a bit more brash. I liked the mysterious aspect of him but he’s almost too nice too soon. Though it was nice to see her partnered with someone who had her back, I wish he had been a bit more rough around the edges thereby giving Kerri an opportunity to smooth those edges.
I really enjoyed the mysterious bitchy Cross character. I hope she makes more appearances in future stories. I liked that Falco uses her as a resource to help them solve the mysteries (because there is more than one, more on that later), and how he keeps saying “he owes her.” I would like to see Cross cash in those favors in future stories perhaps placing Falco in a difficult moral dilemma later. I would actually liked to see a story about Cross – why is she the way she is? What sort of experiences made her into this character that we see now? Ms. Webb, if you’re reading this … *smile*
And speaking of characters, there were A LOT of characters in this story. Almost too many and I confess, I got lost a few times. I had to pause and think, “now who is this again?” However, I do feel like each character played a role and I didn’t feel like Webb was inserting characters willy-nilly just to muddy the waters. Though I was frustrated by the sheer amount of characters, I will say that Webb did a nice job of interweaving all of these characters later in the story and by the end, their functions were all justified and I could forgive that aspect of the story. She introduced a lot of characters because there were several threads to this story: the main murder of Abbott and his mother-in-law, Sela’s past, discovering Sela had a sister and wondering what happened to her sister, Sela’s mother’s mysterious illness, Amelia’s disappearance, Kerri’s best friend’s affair and Kerri’s sister’s husband’s secrets. All of these seemingly unconnected issues were actually all connected in various ways and I appreciated the way Webb kept me guessing and masterfully made all of these mysteries come together in the end. That’s mainly the reason I bumped my rating from four stars to five stars because I could appreciate the complexity of the story and I admired the way she brought all of these storylines together in the end. Bravo. That couldn’t have been easy to do.
I also liked the way Webb put Sela’s perspective into the story as well. You know she’s heavily involved in the murder of her husband and mother but you’re just not sure what role she played in the murders. I thought that added a richness to the story and definitely gave the reader a peek at Sela’s motivation behind the events. Sela ends up being a master manipulator and very clever and I would like to see Kerri cross paths with Sela again in future stories – perhaps Sela becomes a master criminal as predicted by her college professor. *cough-hint-cough*.
The plot moved forward slowly and I was as frustrated by Kerri’s lack of progress as she was. However, with that said, I also appreciated the fact that every time Kerri made progress with the mystery, it only served to raise more questions. It was a frustrating process but also piqued my interest. I confess, I had no idea who the murderer was and by the time it was revealed it made sense on a level that I didn’t see coming. Again, bravo.
As the mystery is slowly solved, the answers become more personal for Kerri. Quite a few characters, close to Kerri, are actually heavily involved in the mystery and I appreciated that personal aspect. It made solving the mystery that much more important for Kerri, and the reader. I felt invested in Kerri’s journey.
The ending was very satisfying and the key characters deserved what they got.
Let’s address a few one-star comments on Goodreads:
Abandoned! First the narration of the audio book was awful – whiny, everyone sounds the same and she sounds like a whiny teenager. Then the story: bunch of rich, entitled a-holes for the most part, the lead character who is undecided about most everything in her life (how could she get to be a lead detective?) and most everyone else unlikeable. I tried for 9 chapters and then sent the book back for refund. Not recommended for anyone.
This is why I don’t listen to audio books. First of all, I get too distracted and lose my place whenever I listen to a book. I want to give the book my full attention and when I’m doing something else while listening to a book, I can’t and that frustrates me. Kudos to those of you that can do that, I can’t, apparently. Secondly, I don’t want whomever is reading the book to sway my opinion as this commenter states. She couldn’t get past the voice of the narrator and that automatically puts the story in a negative category for her – which is unfair to the story. She mentions she can’t get past the rich a-holes in the story. Fine. To each his own. But that’s precisely why I liked the story – because rich powerful people get away with crap the rest of us poor saps would never get away with. Unfortunately, these types of people exist today (Politicians) and it’s so satisfying when these rich a-holes get what they deserve. Unfortunately, these types of characters DO exist – why exclude them from stories?
I will say, I do agree with the commenter on how Kerri seems undecided about most everything in her life. I got that vibe too and I too wondered how she got a reputation for such being such an outstanding detective when it seemed she was anything but confident most of the time.
The other one-star reviews basically complained of the story being too slow and I can’t say I disagree with those observation. But overall, I really liked how Webb starts with one mystery and by the end of the book, Kerri and Falco end solving a 15-year old mystery as well as bringing rich, powerful a-holes to justice.