Monday, September 12, 2011

COLD TRUTH by Mariah Stewart

Publisher: Ballantine
Date published: August 2005
ISBN: 978-0345476654
Suspense, Thriller
Reviewed by Gina
Obtained via: self-purchase

Twenty-six years ago Cassie Burke's life came to a screeching halt when at six years old she was the only survivor of the brutal slaying of her family. To this day she remembers little about that night, but the grief tears at her. Working as a police officer and a detective in the small town of Bowers Inlet does little to assuage her sense of survivor's guilt. Her quiet, contained existence is suddenly thrown into a vortex of emotional upheaval when first her cousin, Lucy, returns to the cottage left to both of them by their grandmother and three murders, similar to a series of killings that happened twenty-six years ago, suddenly begin to happen again. Added to the mix is the sudden departure of Bowers Inlet's other detective, Cassie is left to resolve the crimes on her own.

But someone is watching and may have the answer. While cleaning up her father, true crime writer, Josh Landry's files she stumbles on what may hold the key to finding the killer. When the Chief of Bowers Inlet does not return her calls, Regan calls on John Mancini and shares her information with him. In response John sends Agent Rick Cisco to Bowers Inlet to help with the investigation and Mitch Peyton to help Regan. But even with the arrival of the FBI, the body count continues to grow. When an attempt is made on Lucy's life, Cassie is officially off the case, but not off the killer's radar.

COLD TRUTH is the first of Mariah's TRUTH series which builds on the characters readers met in her DEAD series. There is less romance in this book of the series, but a whole lot more suspense. The first 100 pages take the reader into Cassie's world and thoughts. She becomes someone you feel you know. Rick is a hero without any of his own wounds, at least none that the reader sees at this point. His role is more of a supporting one for Cassie but rather than taking away from the story, it makes the tension palpable. It's great to see a female character that is strong despite the wounds she carries deep in her psyche and its marvelous reading to see her resolve long standing issues.

Another departure for Ms. Stewart in COLD TRUTH is no garden -- not being a gardener myself I enjoy reading about her characters' gardens. That said she carries on with her signature attention to a worthy cause and weaves it into the story with skill.

The killer was a complete surprise to me. He came across as smarmy and utterly heartless. At times I wondered if one of the good guys was perhaps a multiple personality or if one of them was behind the failed earlier investigation trying to protect someone.

I had a hard time putting this one down.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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