Natalie Lockhart grew up destined to be a cop. Her father was on the force, so she grew up with his stories and a love of mysteries. She is now a rookie detective on the Burning Lake police force where she has diligently worked her way up the rungs. For her first assignment, Natalie is given a series of cold missing persons cases known as “the Missing Nine”. These cases all involve individuals who disappeared over the years from around Burning Lake. They were either transient or from a low rung of society that simply did not leave them with anyone determined to find them.
Daisy Buckner, a popular school teacher, has been found murdered in her kitchen. Natalie is placed on the case of finding this beloved woman’s murderer. Could it have been her husband, a local cop? Was she seeing someone? Clues are scarce and Natalie must dig into the past for answers. Along the way she starts to find interesting information about her missing person’s cases. Could there be a connection? Secrets from the past never seem to stay buried.
TRACE OF EVIL is the start of a brand new series focused around Natalie Lockhart. Immediately the reader learns about Natalie’s journey to becoming a detective. There are events in her past, such a the murder of her sister and her father being a cop, that have always seemed to leave Natalie with this career choice as her destiny.
Alice Blanchard has given readers an extremely likeable main character with a complicated and emotional past that leaves the door open for a long running series. I instantly felt connected with Natalie and could feel how her past impacted her present day demeanor. All of the struggles with the loss of her sister have made Natalie a more dedicated and committed detective. She knows what it’s like to be on the other side of an investigation and works hard to ensure that the victim and the victim’s families are being provided the best service possible.
The town of Burning Lake is a fantastic setting for this story, as it has a history very similar to a town like Salem. The witchcraft elements of the town impacts those living there, as well as the cases that Natalie is working on. It seems everyone has been touched by witchcraft in some way, weather through firsthand experimentation or witnessing others. I absolutely love books that include this in their plot. I feel like the inclusion of witchcraft immediately makes the story creepier.
I highly recommend all crime fiction/mystery/thriller fans add TRACE OF EVIL to their TBR! Whether you are looking for a standalone read or are ready to commit to a new series, this is the perfect read for colder, moodier weather.
Disclosure: A huge thank you to Minotaur Books and Bookish First for sending me a free copy of this book!