FBI agent Reed Markham is haunted by one painful unsolved mystery: who murdered his mother? Camilla was brutally stabbed to death more than forty years ago while baby Reed lay in his crib mere steps away. But a shattering family secret changes everything Reed knows about his origins, his murdered mother, and his powerful adoptive father, state senator Angus Markham. Now Reed has to wonder if his mother’s killer is uncomfortably close to home.
Reed enlists his friend, suspended cop Ellery Hathaway, to join his quest in Vegas. Ellery has experience with both troubled families and diabolical murderers, having narrowly escaped from each of them.
Far from home and relying only on each other, Reed and Ellery discover young Camilla had snared the attention of dangerous men, any of whom might have wanted to shut her up for good. They start tracing his twisted family history, knowing the path leads back to a vicious killer—one who has been hiding in plain sight for forty years and isn’t about to give up now.
A huge thank you to Titan Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
This is the third book in the Ellery Hathaway series; however, it can be read as a standalone. Everything that happened in the first two books is explained in detail and it’s easy to build a picture of Ellery’s past without having read the first two books. I have read the first book (The Vanishing Season) and unfortunately I found it rather underwhelming which is why I decided not to read the second book (No Mercy). I couldn’t resist this one though because I love the mystery surrounding a cold case and anything that promises corrupt characters. I’m so glad I read it because it was so much better and so much darker than I was expecting. I also liked the characters a lot more and found myself appreciating the character arc.
I’ve read plenty of books where the main character goes through something traumatic and is able to shrug it off like it didn’t happen, so it was nice to actually read a book where, not one, but two characters are still haunted by past events. First we have Reed; his mother was brutally murdered while he lay in his crib in the next room and the killer was never found. Then we have Ellery who was abducted, raped and mutilated as a teenager and then lost her brother to leukaemia. She always felt partly responsible for his death because her bone marrow wasn’t a match and she couldn’t save him. I think that is tremendous pressure to place on a teenager and I have no idea how I would even move past that if I was placed in the same position.
I really liked the writing this time round and I thought the story flowed seamlessly between Reed and Ellery’s perspective. I loved how they both had different thought processes and different ways to tackle this case. It made for some interesting reading and I enjoyed Ellery’s approach most because she was just full on happy to charge right in, whereas Reed took a more sensible and logical approach. I loved the relationship they had as well. I loved how they both supported and looked after one another. If one of them was hit with the trauma of their past, the other was there straight away to comfort them. I was definitely rooting for the two of them and I was pleased with the ending.
I also found the differences between their pasts interesting – they’ve each had their own traumatic experiences but with different outcomes. Whilst Reed was fortunately adopted into a wealth family with loving parents and three sisters, Ellery was from a much poorer background and after her father walked out on them, her mother struggled to look after her children. There’s definitely a lot of ‘what ifs’ laced throughout the story as they both consider what their lives would have been like if Reed’s mother lived or Ellery’s father didn’t walk out on them. Would they be completely different characters or still the same? Would their paths have even crossed if Ellery wasn’t abducted and abused? I love the idea that there’s alternative realities where we’re living completely different lives.
I also thought the plot was very tense and I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery that surrounded Camilla’s death. There were so many suspects to consider and up until the end, I had no idea who could have murdered his mother or what their motive was. It was very sad to see how people were treated by the police depending on where they lived or how much money they had and unfortunately it’s something that is still relevant today.
As I said, I truly enjoyed this, however, towards the end I guessed what was coming and managed to work out who the killer was which was annoying. There was a final twist right at the end though which I wasn’t anticipating so I was taken by complete surprise with that. It definitely made up for my earlier disappointment. Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot more than the first one and I’m keen to see where the story goes next. Even though it can be read as a standalone, I may pick up the second book now! The character arc was excellent and Ellery and Reed have really grown on me now.