Police officer Susan Marlon is first on the scent of a car accident. The body of a child is found buried at the scene of the accident and it is believed to be that of a child who disappeared many years before, Lenny Lincoln, aka ‘Overalls Boy’ due to his normal mode of dress.
Subsequently, many other children’s bodies are found on the nearby farm and they are believed to be the victims of the owner of the farm, Gerald Nichol, a recently paroled sex offender.
Due to the enormity of the crime, the FBI are brought in to run the investigations and Susan is taken off the case by her boss and mentor, Police Chief Ed Bender. She feels personally and emotionally attached to the case and, no matter how many times Ed warns her off taking an interest in the case, she just cannot let go.
In the meantime, Eric Evans, a divorced college professor with mental health problems, including schizophrenia, moves into the area. Shockingly, his own brother was the third party in the adulterous affair that led to his divorce which results in his natural, fiery resentment. He is a great musician and soon hooks up with the band of one of his students to fill in for the absent drummer.
At a gig, Eric and Susan meet and become involved in each other’s affairs.
Eric is troubled by visions, which are very scary and seem to be connected to the cases of the missing children. The tension builds.
The main plot and sub-plots are character-driven and the writing is powerful. Unexpected historical connections between the characters are revealed throughout the book, The story sucked me into its vortex. I wondered how the main protagonists would ever escape and relief from the tension didn’t come until the final pages.
This is a great crime thriller and I particularly liked that Eric, the character who was afflicted with mental illness was actually a good guy. That is unusual in a crime thriller and it is not a spoiler, because it is fairly obvious from an early stage.
Perhaps I am too easily irritated, but there were a few minor niggles that detracted from my enjoyment of the book, which meant that it fell just short of a five star rating for me. For example, “… the relaxed feel of the soft, baggy pajamas that hugged her skin …” I had to re-read that passage, wondering how the baggy clothing could cling to her skin. Silly, I know.
Nevertheless – Bravo, Vivian Barz!
I look forward to the second book in this series, which is due to be published in August 2020.