Even in a quiet Vermont town, unspeakable acts of the past can destroy the peace of the present. Mother of two Detective Sonja Test investigates her 1st murder case after a young teenage girl is found bludgeoned to death in the home of the prosecutor in a high profile civil rights case.
Read by: Amy Landon
In the remote, pastoral hamlet of Canaan, Vermont, a high profile legal case shatters the town’s sense of peace and community. Anger simmers. Fear and prejudice awaken. Old friends turn on each other. Violence threatens.
So when a young teenage girl is savagely murdered while babysitting at the house of the lead attorney in the case, Detective Sonja Test believes the girl’s murder and the divisive case must be linked.
However, as the young detective digs deeper into her first murder case, she discovers sordid acts hidden for decades, and learns that behind the town’s idyllic façade of pristine snow lurks a capacity in some for great darkness and the betrayal of innocents.
And Sonja Test, a mother of two, will do anything to protect the innocent.
Why I Liked The Book
Even though I already knew who the killer was by three-quarts of the way in, Rickstad did an effective job trying to confuse his readers by adding multiple people who could have been the killer and fusing their stories. This was so many “bad” people and side stories in this book, that I could not pinpoint who the killer was until it was an obvious choice.
The detective for once is not like what you would expect – she has a family life, two children and a husband. No drama there!
I also liked a segment of the book when Test went to the school head mistress’ office and there were loads of detective novels on the shelves. The descriptions of how most murder-mystery books are written was spot on. The author usually peppers the plot with enough hints to make the reader proud of themselves when they spot the killer.
What I didn’t Like about the Book
There were a few passages where “he said”…”she said”..”he said”…”she said” ended every sentence. It was irritatingly repetitive and stood out, then some other issues started to become noticeable and I kind of lost interest.
While it’s nice to have a female lead, her role in the investigation was not clearly defined and most of the book was her trying not to step on the toes of the actual police force. She was a consultant? A part-time detective? A detective from another council? It was confusing and it lead to some awkward moments in the book where she and the police re-interview the same witnesses in the school. Also I didn’t think she was very professional. Late at meetings, spilling coffee over herself and not going home to change but going on all with a pee-looking stain on her. Not a fan of dishevelled appearances in professional staff.
What also really bugged me was the addition of the family life aspect. I wasn’t interested on how well or how badly she managed her personal life as she was performing a murder investigation. Or what her parenting rules were. I understand why the author added this – to make her more relatable to the target audience: mommies staying at home reading mystery novels.
Plus: the choice of the “why?” was really bizarre. Let me spoil the novel for you. Don’t read this unless you are not going to read the book yourself.
The 14-year old girl in the book was murdered by her employer, a married man with a child of his own, to get the attention of the girl’s boyfriend’s father that abused him when he was 8. And to make him suffer. The boy goes to jail, the father (coach) is ready to confess to his paedophilia but gets killed in a hate-crime relating to the two gay guys the murderer was defending in court. The killer gets blackmailed by another of the coach’s victims and none of the investigators find the killer.
The boy is convicted and only due to a sudden spur of conscience does the actual killer come forward and confess.. I mean, if he kept quiet, he could have gotten away with it. If he came forward about the abuse when he was little, he could have stopped the coach from traumatising more little boys. But instead he decides to punish him by getting his son arrested for murder. Not for statutory rape of a 14 year old which would have been easier to prove and would not have involved any innocent blood being shed.
I stay true to my rating of 2/5.