Jan Kepler and Swatara Creek Police Office Flora Vastine were neighbors and schoolmates, but never close.
When Jan, a school teacher, avid birder and niece of a fellow officer, goes missing and is found dead in a nearby tract of woods, Flora finds herself thrust into the middle of an examination of the other woman's life, as she searches for clues.
As usual, the police have more than one crime to deal with. There's illegal timbering and a series of vehicle thefts taking up their time. And there are other issues to deal with. Flora is concerned there's some shakiness in her relationship with Cpl. Harry Minnich, who seems to be making a lot of secretive phone calls.
Still, Flora maintains focus on the murder, and despite evidence implicating other suspects, the odd behavior of another former classmate rouses Flora's suspicion. Flora's probing opens personal wounds, as she observes the cost of obsessive love and tracks down the killer.
A bit of a change of pace for me with a slightly less frenetic mystery from J. R. Lindermuth – my first time reading this author.
Shares the Darkness is the seventh entry in Lindermuth’s Sticks Hetrick series, though Sticks seems to take a back seat role in this one with our main focus on one of his officers Flora Vastine.
We start with the disappearance of a local woman which soon turns to a murder investigation when her body is discovered after a search. No sexual assault and no apparent enemies, why was she killed? Our small team of police start the investigation with limited progress initially. Our main eyes and ears are Officer Flora Vastine. Lindermuth expertly blends investigation and the personal into this mystery. Vastine is in a relationship with a fellow officer and there’s time enough to explore her insecurities over her relationship while conducting her duties as an officer of the law.
Other crimes are committed in the town, which are also investigated and these add to the convincing portrayal of a small town police department in action. The illegal tree logging strand offers a possible motive and suspect for our murder. In addition, the recent arrival in town of a former schoolmate, one with a bit of history with our victim, also offers possibilities and develops the plot.
I enjoyed the book and the slow development of the investigation. I kind of guessed the murderer early on, but wasn’t totally sure as the author had several candidates which were at various stages of the book persons of interest.
Decent setting, interesting characters, no explicit violence – our murder happens off page, enough of a glimpse of the personal lives of a few of the police officers to add as opposed to detract from matters at hand. All in all, a satisfying read.
4 from 5
J. R. Lindermuth has his website here. In addition to his Sticks Hetrick series, he has another series featuring Sheriff Sylvester Tilghman and a fair few standalones.
Catch him on Twitter - @jrlindermuth
Read in September, 2017
Published - 2016
Page count - 226
Source - review copy from author
Format - PDF