This is a spinoff novel from Elliot’s popular Callahan and McLane series, featuring as the principal protagonist Zander Wells, Ava McLane’s partner. The pair are called into a small northern Oregon town to investigate a possible hate crime when a black man is found stabbed and hanged, his white wife stabbed to death in their bed. When Zander discovers the first witness on the scene, Emily Mills, found her father’s hanged body more than two decades earlier, the coincidence is a little too much to believe. In a town where barely 1% of the population are people of color, white supremacist roots run deep… and someone doesn’t want Zander asking questions.
I was a little bit bemused when the point of view character switched to Emily’s younger sister Madison for several sections in the middle of the book. It seemed to be solely done to make us doubt Emily and wonder what she was hiding, but since she was obviously set up as Zander’s romantic interest by that point it fell a bit flat for me. I have to admit I was also kind of bothered that all the people of color who appeared in the book (very few, but that was the demographics of the area and part of the plot) wound up dead by the end of it. Not having any PoC alive and thriving at the end gave the supremacists a win of sorts, even if they didn’t get away with their crimes, and left something of a bad taste in my mouth.
Overall a good story, with the past and the present colliding as secrets are revealed and old secrets bringing new danger, but there were too many things which bothered me for me to give this a full five stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.