Imagine coming across a body in the river gutted out from the inside out as if it were a shark, whale or some type of animal that was going to be roasted or cooked. The site would make anyone cringe and the thought that someone would kill someone in this manner chilling. But, this happened in Bitsy over 20 years ago and then in the present another body with the similar results was found in the same river. Who wanted these people dead and why? If you hear the voice of either killer you will learn that there is a group that is very tight, very loyal and anyone who dares to defy them, steal from them or go against their policies or creed will meet the same fate. Becky Kingsley just returned to this town and never wanted to be there until her father became terminally ill and decided to go back before it was too late. Relationships are not cemented in stone and the author takes the reader back to her childhood and past through many stages of her life allowing us to get to know why she and her father were often estranged, never wanted to be in his presence and the day he told her as Chief of Police that it was time for her to learn how to shoot a gun. From her teens to the present we get to know her relationship with her parents, their separation and her friendship and caring for Parker who now in the present is Homicide Investigative Detective handling the case of the John Doe found in the river.
Becky does not want to be in her father’s presence yet his girlfriend, Jackie insists that she stay in her old home, in her old room and help out with his care. Jackie is caring, loving and understands why Becky does not want to be there, yet she enlists her help to take care of her father’s needs. But, when she allows Jackie to take off for a few hours and she is feeding her father, the news flashes about the body, something happens, and he wants to tell her something about the past and the truth and she discounts it without listening and closes the door without looking back. Just what did he want to tell her and why?
Throughout the novel the author flashes back to Becca’s childhood and the scene that would haunt her the present describing what she saw in the barn. Murder in plain sight and was told by her father never to speak of it again and then she was sent away to boarding school without anyone looking back in her direction. From that point on she and her family were estranged and the father did not exist in her life until she was told he was terminally ill and asked to come home.
John Jackson is a dangerous man and will do anything to cover his tracks especially after committing murders. But, who exactly killed the first body found years ago in the river and what happened to the murder weapon? Things spiraled out of control when Chief of Police Clint Kingsley comes on the scene and is forced to allow the murder to go unsolved, taking a statement from a witness that remained hidden and not revealing the person’s name, leaving everyone to wonder what would happen next. Even Becca, who saw what happened gave a statement and both hers and the witnesses was buried only to be found years later in the present.
Parker Reed is Becca’s old boyfriend and we learn about their relationship in the past and her hope to reconnect in the present but first she must deal with Matt her live-in so-called boyfriend that cheats on her whenever she turns her back. Realizing that he’s wrong for her and when her father’s girlfriend, Jackie calls to say she needs to come back to her childhood home to help care for her father before it’s too late, things take on a different turn and someone from her past that knows she knows the truth about that day in the barn, might come after her in the present.
A group called the Scion seems to run this town of people who never come forward, seem disjointed in their ways and loyal to only those close to them but this group is dangerous and the many leaders like Russell Jackson, John’s father before he died, take action, revenge and deal with the problems and the group covers up the mess never allowing any of them to fall.
Becca is haunted by many memories of the childhood and coming home her father hopes to at least explain his actions from that day and hopefully she will understand. But, Jackie is an amazing character even though she is just his girlfriend, she explains to Becca her past with her father, how and why they connected and the reason she is a nurse. Clint cheated on his wife with many women and Becca could not understand why she and her mother were not enough for him. As Chief of police he felt above the law and felt that women wanted him for more than just a hello. When Jackie describes their relationship, you get an entirely different picture. Parker and Becca reconnect at times but things for them are tense and then even though they have one special night together she needs to run back home to her father, but someone comes and clouds the issue and Parker takes a long hard look at her, but will he remain in her sight.
This is a story of love, disloyalty, betrayal, deceptions, abuse, uncertain pasts and presents, and one Becca who never really lived her life to the fullest at any time with ghosts that haunt her and her love for animals since she’s vet for the most part carried her through plus her dog Ruby. When things come out in the open and the truth behind all the bodies in the river comes to light and a weapon is found belonging to one of the victim’s murderers, what will the outcome be? Will Parker understand that Matt means nothing to her? What happens when she tells him the truth about the first murder, explains her father’s role and the statement that she made which is now part of his investigation in the present. We meet the lead detective on the case in the past, Rick Smith who plays an important role in helping Parker sort through the case and understand the outcome. When the final scenes are played, and the killer is in sight what happens you won’t expect when someone faces off with him will that person be next?
When Becca is in danger and someone must watch her back, the end when her father dies will bring tears to your eyes, hers and both her mother and Jackie who decides it’s time to move on with her life and leave. Author Karen Katchur builds up the tension throughout the novel allowing readers to wonder where Becca will wind up, where her loyalties will lie when the truth comes out, the killer is revealed and someone in her life is no longer there to help her through it. The final chapter or epilogue reveals the scene that will explain that day, what she hid, why and at the end you wonder if coming home was worth it or does she lose it all?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ network/Mj magazine