Trace of Evil by Alice Blanchard is an intriguing murder mystery thriller that immediately captured my attention from the very first chapter. The haunting plot pulled me in, the investigation had me questioning everyone’s motives and the complex town mystery kept me guessing until the very end. This thriller is a fast paced read that is filled with lots of tension, twists and turns, and a shocking conclusion that makes this book impossible to put down.
I always enjoy a mystery story where the lead character is a strong female detective. Trace of Evil is the first book in Alice Blanchard’s new series that takes place in the small town of Burning Lake, New York and introduces the reader to Natalie Lockhart, a rookie detective with a painful past. As the daughter of a 35 year veteran of the police department, Natalie is not new to investigations and murder. Years ago, she suffered the loss of her own sister who was violently murdered. As a new detective and the first woman assigned to the Burning Lake Criminal Investigation Unit, she is tasked with investigating the disappearance of nine transient women in a town accustomed to a strange and unnerving history.
On the twentieth anniversary of Natalie’s sister’s death she discovers the body of Daisy Buckner, a lifelong friend, a beloved school teacher and the wife to another police officer. As her investigation into the murder proceeds, she discovers that Daisy had many secrets of her own. Although the main suspect is in a coma, Natalie begins to question the actions of some of Daisy’s students. When Natalie’s niece and her friends become involved, the investigation becomes personal. Will Natalie uncover the motive behind Daisy’s death? Will she be able to discover the mystery behind the nine missing women before someone else disappears? Are the disappearances related to Daisy’s murder? What other painful circumstances will Natalie uncover next as her investigation makes her question the person responsible for her sisters death and makes her suspect that the murderer is still actively killing others?
As Natalie continues her investigation she reflects on her own childhood and a terrifying attack that has haunted her for years. She’s often pulled back in time as memories of her sisters, her family life and her own experiences of growing up in Burning Lake continue to distract her. As she follows new leads details about Natalie’s past, her sister’s vicious attack, and her close friendship with Luke Pittman, her Lieutenant are revealed. Can her past experiences help her with her investigations? Will her relationship with Luke change and grow?
I really enjoyed reading this thrilling murder mystery. I was totally pulled into the plot and completely committed to seeing how Natalies’s investigation would proceed. The author’s descriptive writing style took me right into the story where I felt like an active participant in the investigation. I appreciated the complex history of the town and how its history influenced the actions of many of the characters. I also enjoyed the descriptions and depth of the many different characters in the story and the author’s ability to make them feel real. At times this story was eerie and dark which isn’t my favorite type of story but the author did a wonderful job of keeping the story moving so that it didn’t become overwhelming. I thought Trace of Evil was an amazingly complex, thrilling and completely captivating book. This was a wonderful beginning to Alice Blanchard’s new Natalie Lockhart series and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
Thank you to Minotaur books, Alice Blanchard and BookishFirst for the wonderful opportunity to win a copy of this wonderful book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.