Book Review: Trace of Evil

evilTitle: Trace of Evil
Author: Alice Blanchard
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Pages: 384
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Book #1 of Natalie Lockhark series
Where I got the book: NetGalley ARC
Date finished reading: January 25, 2020

Goodreads Description: A riveting mystery that introduces a bold and audacious rookie detective assigned to hunt for a killer who is haunted by the past in this gripping murder case…

Natalie Lockhart always knew she was going to be a cop. A rookie detective on the Burning Lake police force, she was raised on the wisdom of her chief-of-police father. These cases will haunt you if you let them. Grief doesn’t come with instructions.

But the one thing her father couldn’t teach her was how to handle loss. Natalie’s beloved sister was viciously murdered as a teenager, and she carries the scars deep in her heart. Although the killer was locked up, the trace evidence never added up, and Natalie can’t help wondering―is the past really behind her?

As the newest member on the force, Natalie is tasked with finding nine missing persons who’ve vanished off the face of the earth, dubbed “the Missing Nine.” One night, while following up on a new lead, she comes across a savage crime that will change everything.

Daisy Buckner―a popular schoolteacher, wife to a cop, and newly pregnant―lies dead on her kitchen floor. As Natalie hunts for Daisy’s killer in the wake of the town’s shock, her search leads to a string of strange clues―about the Missing Nine, about Daisy’s secret life, and reviving fresh doubts about her sister’s murder.

As the investigation deepens, Natalie’s every move risks far-reaching consequences―for the victims, for the town of Burning Lake, and for herself.

Spellbinding and gripping, Trace of Evil is a novel of twisting suspense that will leave you breathless.

My Review: I received a copy of Trace of Evil from NetGalley, and I could not be happier that I picked it up when I did. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump since the beginning of 2020. I’m hoping that Trace of Evil has brought me out of that slump, because I wholeheartedly enjoyed this book.

It has been a while, since I have read a mystery/thriller that did not frustrate me (excluding any Agatha Christie book I’ve read recently). I think the concept of the unreliable narrator that drove the popularity of books like Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, and Woman in Cabin 10 has been overdone now. It is a fun concept, but it was nice to read a mystery/thriller with a strong and reliable female main character.

Right from the beginning, you know that there will be a few different mysteries included in this story. Trace of Evil begins with Detective Natalie Lockhart visiting her murdered sister’s grave. This visit actually leads to a potential clue in the cold cases of nine missing individuals that she has been investigating. However, her investigation quickly gets shelved by a new investigation, when a fellow detective’s wife is found murdered. While investigating this murder, she uncovers lots of secrets in the town including her own niece’s involvement in occult activity.

What I loved about this book is that it contained so many mysteries, but that the plot still flowed smoothly and kept me riveted. Who killed Detective Buckner’s wife, Daisy? What happened to the “Missing Nine”? Is the right person serving time for Natalie’s sister’s murder? Is Natalie’s niece in danger? I never had a clue how the mysteries would be solved or who the bad guys were. There were so many interesting characters and many secrets being held by all.

I literally ignored my husband to sit and finish this book, because I just had to know how it ended. The last portion of the book was so gripping and ultimately surprising and fulfilling. I thought this was a fantastic read! I highly recommend it!

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦