As a child, Grace Vaccaro felt responsible for caring for her depressed mother. As an adult, she works as a mental health evaluator-it’s her job to determine when people are in danger and need to be hospitalized. When a paranoid man is found bludgeoned to death on the banks of the Snoqualmie River, Grace wonders if she should have done more to help him. When her neighbor is found dead in the same location, she suspects a connection. Grace’s search for answers leads her from a Seattle homeless encampment to the rainy forests of the Snoqualmie Valley. The results are never clear. A Mexican immigrant fears deportation and refuses to talk to the police. A Native American elder works to conceal the location of ancestral gravesites. And a pregnant woman Grace just evaluated is terrified. Are her statements delusional or does she have information leading to the murderer? As Grace comes closer to the truth, her quiet home is invaded and she is the next target. She must face the killer alone and learn how far she will go to protect herself and others.
Mystery… Pacific Northwest setting, two things that I always feel pair perfectly together. They made great partners in this debut novel by Washington State resident, Martha Crites.
It’s a first person narration and the author obviously used much of her experience working in the mental health field to bring lead character, Grace, to life. Grace also works in that field so everything about her daily work life seemed so real. I also like the way she weaved in one of her patients into the mystery which seemed natural and not done just for the sake of the plot.
The novel starts with great suspense with a murder and sets in motion this fast paced whodunit. All the characters were well drawn, their motives and agenda well covered so it kept you guessing. The dialogue was also engaging.
The chapters are short which is often a big plus when you’re turning the pages to figure out if you’re right about a hunch or not.
And let’s not forget the setting. I don’t think this story could have been set anywhere else. It’s rainy, sometimes snowy; it’s dark and very atmospheric which is why I always love to read mysteries set in these parts. The author made me feel like I was there.
I don’t know if Ms. Crites has plans for writing more books using the lead character, but if she does I’ll be looking for them. If you like a good whodunit set in the Seattle area, I highly recommend this one.