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by Paige Shelton
Minotaur, December 2021
288 pages
ISBN: 125079627X

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Thriller writer Beth Rivers, recovering from a harrowing kidnapping and brain injury, is hiding out in remote Benedict, Alaska, where the only one who knows her true identity is the police chief, Gril Samuels. Beth is never far from crime, though, and is, in fact, living at a halfway house for female felons, one of the few living spaces available.

As much as Beth tries to lie low, she is pulled into a murder case after a local man, Ned Withers, is killed, hours after he battered his wife. Ned's sister, who was on the run from authorities in Juneau, was found at his house before the murder; Gril has placed her in the halfway house where Beth is staying. On the night that Ned is killed, Beth finds her boots, which she always leaves by the door, cold and wet. Did someone sneak out of the house and kill Ned? Or is it possible that a sleepwalking Beth killed Ned?

To complicate matters, Beth's mother, Mill Rivers, also on the run from the law for shooting at Beth's kidnapper, tracks down Beth and shows up in Benedict. But, like everyone else in this story, Mill might be harboring her own secrets. Is there another reason for her to be in Benedict?

There's also another stranger in town, Doug Vitner, a census man who unexpectedly shows up—unexpectedly because the federal government never sends a census taker to this small town. When Doug disappears, the mystery deepens.

Paige Shelton does a masterful job of showing this insular community and the dark, cold Alaska winters. However, this is the third of a series and, not having read the first two books, I felt a bit of a detachment from Beth and wondered at some of the choices she had made. The story might work best if you've read the previous books. Still, this is a well-written mystery with interesting characters and plenty of twists and turns.

§ Lourdes Venard is an independent editor who divides her time between New York and Maui.

Reviewed by Lourdes Venard, November 2021

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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