A special thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
At sixteen, Anglea Wong, one of the most popular girls at school, disappeared. She left behind wonderful parents, and two best friends, Georgina Shaw and Kaiser Brody.
Fourteen years later, Angela's remains are found in the woods right near the house that Geo grew up in. Her father, a respected physician still lives in the family home. Nobody ever suspected that Geo, now an executive at a pharmaceutical company owned by her fiancé's family, had anything to do with Angela's disappearance.
Kaiser, now a detective with the Seattle PD, learns that Angela was a victim of Calvin James a.k.a. the "Sweetbay Strangler" who is also responsible for the murders of at least three other women. To Geo, Calvin James is something else—he's her first love. It was an instant attraction that grew into an intense, obsessive, and abusive relationship.
For the past fourteen years, Geo has carried the secret of what really happened to Angela until all comes to light with her arrest. Or is there more to the story? Geo is sent to prison while James has escaped from prison. Past and present collide when a string of copycat murders start happening. Did Geo set in motion a new chain of events or is she the missing piece to catch the killer?
This is my first book by Jennifer Hillier and I was impressed. Her writing is sharp and the pages flew by. Hillier developed the characters enough to not be predictable or stereotypical, but I did want more from Kai.
Told by alternating points of view between Geo and Kai, past and present, this style really served the story well and helped lay the ground work. I felt that their particular relationship in the backstory wasn't fleshed out enough. It seemed like a harmless little crush versus any kind of relationship that gave Kai the emotional baggage that he brought to any of his other relationships. I also thought that Geo was a user—she used Kai when they were friends, knowing he'd always be there for her because he was attracted to her, used her fiancé for a title/career, used people in prison for protection, and uses Kai's loyalty to protect her outside of prison. Relationships in this story seemed to always be a struggle of power, especially between Angela and Geo. Neither of the girls could stand it when the other one was receiving attention. I also found that Geo (even though she went to prison), always came out on top—without giving anything away, I'm sure when you are finished you will have the same musings as I did.
Hillier does a great job with the pace of the story. She doesn't show her hand, she plays her cards one at a time and lets the story unfold naturally. Sometimes with this genre, I feel that plot twists are forced and I didn't get that sense here. I was intrigued right off the bat when Calvin hands Geo a note in court that says "You're welcome", welcome for what?
The difference between three and four stars is for a couple of reasons. First, for a detective, Kai is incredibly daft. Is it because he was too close to the case, and actually, he shouldn't have even been on this case. Is it not a conflict of interest? He knows both the victim and the perpetrator—I guess you have to suspend your belief on that front. Second, the story was a little bit gruesome for me. If dark and twisty is your bag, you will love this book.