Becca, beautiful and brilliant, comes from an influential family with a predilection for law degrees. As a first-year law student at George Washington University, she feels the pressure from final exams—and from a weighted secret she’s been harboring. To get her head straight for exams, she heads to her parents’ summer home in the misty mountains of North Carolina, the perfect quiet place to collect her thoughts. She’s brutally assaulted and murdered before she ever gets the chance to take those exams.
Enter prominent investigative reporter Kelsey Castle, who is immediately intrigued by the case and by the tiny town of Summit Lake. For such a big thing to happen in a little town, there is an unusual absence of media buzz, only the murmuring of gossip at the local coffee collective. After learning that the local police force has been pulled from the case, Kelsey begins to question a cover-up, and her suspicions are further bolstered by the lackluster investigation from the county and a botched autopsy report.
Shocking revelations about Becca’s death parallel Kelsey’s own awful encounter only weeks before. This further drives Kelsey’s fervor to reveal the truth of Becca’s story, no matter the obstacles or dangers. The small amount of celebrity from Kelsey’s recently published book gains her favor from locals and helps her find the answers, but she doesn’t know that retracing the steps of the dead will ultimately resolve her own demons and help her come into a new life.
With a soaring pace and teasing plot twists, Charlie Donlea’s debut mystery is like a cool drink of water with a twist of lemon. It’s refreshing to find a book that has such a well-developed plot and excellent writing to back it up.