When Penny Matthews, a seven-year-old girl with blonde curls and a gap-toothed smile, goes missing in the Appalachian mountains, Detective Ellie Reeves is called straight to the scene. All that’s left behind is a pink friendship bracelet etched with “Penny”.
Thanks to her own childhood––which keeps her up at night, tossing and turning––Ellie knows all too well that the endless miles of dark forest and winding rivers are the perfect place for a criminal to hide, and a little girl doesn’t stand a chance. Racing against a brutal winter storm on the horizon, she searches desperately for Penny.
But when she discovers the remains of a small body, hidden by fallen leaves and wildflowers, the breath is knocked out of her. The old bones, and the carved wooden doll they’re buried with, have clearly been there for years. Ellie fears she’s up against a serial killer who has been stalking the mountains for decades, preying on children.
When Ellie spots tiny footprints near the unearthed grave, she’s certain they belong to Penny. As she begins to untangle the truth, she realizes the monster they’re looking for is connected to her own dark past. To save the little girl she needs to confront her own demons. Can she face her greatest fear before the twisted killer claims another helpless victim?
This is the first book I’ve read by Rita Herron. Amazon kept pushing her as a ‘recommended author’ so I finally decided to check her out. I’m a big fan of female led crime stories so I already knew that this book would be up my alley. Upon completion of reading this, I went ahead and got the other books in the series. If I enjoy them as much as I did this one, it might turn into another series I buy in paperback as well.
In this book we meet Detective Ellie Reeves. A complicated character with hidden secrets and complicated life choices. The dynamics presented at first glance speak of a woman who has always had to prove herself, a dominating mother, a caring father and professional rivals at every turn.
The Appalachian Trail is a place I know of – I mostly know it from crime TV which paints a picture of crime at every corner – but I did to a little research on it here to give myself a better understanding of one of the focal points of the novel.
Crime novels with children are always walking a very thin line. There are some fantastic books out there and there are also some terrible ones. It’s a line that needs to be explored carefully as a crime book with children involved always has the possibility to trigger a reader. In this case, I thought it was done very artfully and it painted a picture of despair and determination, war and love. It didn’t sugar coat or fabricate, it just presented itself as is. I appreciated that.
There seems to be a ‘love triangle’ brewing on the horizon between Ellie and two of the male characters. Personally I have a very strained view of love triangles and usually find them over done, predicable, and frustrating. BUT, I do like to read with an open mind, so I shall try and adopt that at least until the romancing has made it’s way to the forefront of the plot.
I read this book in two halves, I’ve been inputting a lot of data at work and a couple of chapters in between has provided a good break. I finished reading this last night (13th April), and it accompanied me through my realisation that I was not having a bad hay fever day but actually that I was coming down with a cold!
I had this book on Kindle, it is 334 pages long and currently selling for £1.99 or free with Kindle Unlimited. I will say though that for its 334 pages it has a mass of chapters. The book relies heavily on short chapters rather than long chapters, 100 chapters in total, which does seem rather extreme. I do however, notice this pattern in a lot of Kindle books and I wonder whether it is done to make the book appear longer than it is?
Another thing that niggled at me was the backstory of Ellie that is revealed through the book. I think it niggled me because I’ve recently read another series of books with a female lead that had a very similar backstory and that in turn, made this one feel stereotypical. But, it’s far harder to write a book with completely original content nowadays, so I’m inclined to let this slide.
Much like when I talk about Lisa Regan’s Josie Quinn series, Herron has captured a raw female character and she doesn’t seem inclined to shade away from the ups and downs of real life. I find this enjoyable because I want to see the character through their highs and lows. I don’t just want to see a picture perfect life portrayed through the plot.
100% I started reading the next in the series when I finished this. I have all 5 books of the series waiting on my Kindle now, so there is nothing stopping me!
I give this book: ✨✨✨✨✨