The Names of the Dead Girls (Canaan Crime #3) by Eric Rickstad

Book Description:

Published: September 12, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Every murder tells a story. Some stories never end . . .

In a remote northern Vermont town, college student Rachel Rath is being watched. She can feel the stranger’s eyes on her, relentless and possessive. And she’s sure the man watching her is the same man who killed her mother and father years ago: Ned Preacher, a serial rapist and murderer who gamed the system to get a light sentence. Now, he’s free.

Detective Frank Rath adopted Rachel, his niece, after the shocking murder of her parents when she was a baby. Ever since, Rath’s tried to protect her from the true story of her parents’ deaths. But now Preacher is calling Rath to torment him. He’s threatening Rachel and plotting cruelties for her, of the flesh and of the mind. When other girls are found brutally murdered, and a woman goes missing, Rath and Detective Sonja Test must untangle the threads that tie these new crimes and some long-ago nightmares together. Soon they will learn that the truth is more perverse than anyone could guess, rife with secrets, cruel desires, and warped, deadly loyalty.

Mesmerizing, startling, and intricately plotted, The Names of Dead Girls builds relentlessly on its spellbinding premise, luring readers into its dark and macabre mystery, right to its shocking end.

Review –

Frank Rath, a retired Vermont state police detective, is horrified to get a phone call from Ned Preacher, who raped his sister, Laura, and killed her and her husband, Daniel, sixteen years earlier. Preacher is now free, having pleaded guilty to lesser crimes and acted like a saint while in prison to reduce his sentence. Preacher is threatening to harm Laura and Daniel’s daughter, Rachel, whom Frank raised as his own after their deaths.

Meanwhile, Dana Clark, the only survivor of an attack by the Connecticut River Valley Killer, disappears, and another young woman turns up dead. Inspector Gerard Champine, a Canadian police detective, calls Rath because there are similar murder cases in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. Rath leaves retirement to take charge of the investigation. the author throws in some wicked twists as Rath tries to make sense of the killings, but they’re not enough to make up for the weak detective work.

The story starts off promising, and certain scenes, especially when Rachel can feel eyes on her, are downright creepy. The twists and turns are, at times, predictable, and there’s a whole lot of buildup for an ending that feels simpler than readers might expect. That said, the plot is quick and the dialogue is tight, which makes the reading experience fun and entertaining.

This is  a great read and would be a good choice for any lover of the mystery-suspense genre.

 

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The Silent Girls (The Silent Girls #1) by Eric Rickstad

Book Description:

Published: November 25, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

With the dead of a bitter Vermont winter closing in, evil is alive and well …

Frank Rath thought he was done with murder when he turned in his detective’s badge to become a private investigator and raise a daughter alone. Then the police in his remote rural community of Canaan find an ’89 Monte Carlo abandoned by the side of the road, and the beautiful teenage girl who owned the car seems to have disappeared without a trace.

Soon Rath’s investigation brings him face-to-face with the darkest abominations of the human soul.

With the consequences of his violent and painful past plaguing him, and young women with secrets vanishing one by one, he discovers once again that even in the smallest towns on the map, evil lurks everywhere-and no one is safe.

Morally complex, seething with wickedness and mystery, and rich in gritty atmosphere and electrifying plot turns, The Silent Girls marks the return of critically acclaimed author Eric Rickstad. Readers of Ian Rankin, Jo Nesbø, and Greg Iles will love this book and find themselves breathless at the incendiary, ambitious, and unforgettable story.

Review –

It’s Halloween in 1985 and a woman opens her door to a trick or treater expecting to have an ordinary interaction and it’s anything but. I’ll just say there is bloodshed and the hair on the back of my neck was standing up, a truly chilling opening to a really gripping book.

Next it’s 2011 and you’re introduced to Frank Rath a former police officer turned private investigator living in Vermont. He was a really strong protagonist and was developed  extremely well, I totally felt like I had a solid sense of who he is and what motivates him by the end. The secondary characters were also well drawn, they were mostly detectives who were working alongside Rath and you can definitely tell that the author is laying the groundwork for a series.
It’s dark and gritty at times, a great companion to the stark setting in the lead up to a brutal Vermont winter. The plot was well constructed and kept me guessing and the subplot surrounding Rath’s personal life really piqued my interest. And that ending, talk about an explosive cliffhanger, I can’t wait for the sequel will comes out September 12th.

Five stars !!!!!!

Lie In Wait by Eric Rickstad

Book Description:

Published: September 1, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

From the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Silent Girls comes another unforgettable thriller set in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, featuring Detective Sonja Test

Even in a quiet Vermont town, unspeakable acts of the past can destroy the peace of the present

In the remote, pastoral hamlet of Canaan, Vermont, a high-profile legal case shatters the town’s sense of peace and community. Anger simmers. Fear and prejudice awaken. Old friends turn on each other. Violence threatens.

So when a young teenage girl is savagely murdered while babysitting at the house of the lead attorney in the case, Detective Sonja Test believes the girl’s murder and the divisive case must be linked.

However, as the young detective digs deeper into her first murder case, she discovers sordid acts hidden for decades, and learns that behind the town’s idyllic façade of pristine snow lurks a capacity in some for great darkness and the betrayal of innocents. And Sonja Test, a mother of two, will do anything to protect the innocent.

Review –

Detective Sonja Test of the Canaan (Vermont) Police Department is working her first murder case involving a fifteen-year-old killed while babysitting a local attorney.

Jessica Cumber was killed in the home of Jon Merryfield, a lawyer who had built his career by taking on cases of underprivileged victims of violence. He was current representing a gay couple in a community divided by the issue of legalizing gay marriage in Vermont. The police arrest popular high school senior Brad Jenkins, whose father is a close friend of Jed King, leader of the gay hate group “Take Back Vermont”, for the murder. The question for the investigating officers is, Was Jessica Cumber a victim of random violence, or was her murder somehow connected to the Take Back Vermont organization? There is no evidence to suggest that Jessica knew Brad Jenkins as anything other than a schoolmate, and yet Sonja Test senses there’s more that she’s not seeing.

Lie In Wait is written largely as a police procedural, with a lot of character development on all sides of the murder investigation: the officers, the accused, the victim, and everyone else in their respective spheres of influence. Too, considerable time is spent on the investigation itself, questioning anyone who might have something to contribute, often not making much obvious progress but it only takes a random detail here or there to tie all the pieces together.

The author manages to create a real sense of place with the Vermont setting- the cold, snow and rural-ness really play in to the overall atmosphere. As well, the author manages to develop many strong, distinct characters- he writes in many POVs but each character is clearly their own. Most importantly, the actual mystery is solved in an unexpected way, with big secrets being exposed at the end.

Though often moving forward in fits and starts, this is an engrossing novel of suspense with a riveting storyline.