For Lizzie Snow, the ice and snow of her first punishing North Woods winter are dreadful enough. But near the small town of Bearkill a stubborn forest fire now rages out of control, and as embers swirl dangerously in the smoke-filled air, a teenage girl with a history of running away has dropped out of sight again. The locals and the law both think Tara Wylie is up to her old tricks-until her mother receives a terrifying text message.
Equally disturbing: Henry Gemerle-a kidnapper and rapist who once held three girls prisoner for fifteen years-has escaped, and may be lurking in Bearkill. As the fire closes in, Lizzie teams up with her boss, Sheriff Cody Chevrier, and state cop Dylan Hudson to search for the missing girl and the wily fugitive. But they're blocked by Tara's mother, a frustrating teller of needless lies and keeper of dark, incomprehensible secrets.
Following a trail of grisly clues-a bloodstained motel room, a makeshift coffin in a shallow grave-Lizzie is drawn ever closer to the flames in her race to save an innocent and corner a monster. Someone else also wants to find Tara Wylie and Henry Gemerle, though, for reasons that have nothing to do with mercy or justice. And when they all meet, the inferno threatening Bearkill will pale in comparison to the hell that's about to break loose.
Graves's dark second Lizzie Snow mystery (after 2015's Winter at the Door) examines the ugly, soul-destroying things that mark the aftermath of a child abduction. At age 15, Jane Crimmins is kidnapped from a party in a New Haven, Conn., park, along with her 15-year-old cousin, Cam Petry. Jane escapes soon afterward, but she tells no one of her experience or that three other victims remain in captivity. Fifteen years later, the police arrest Jane's abductor and rescue three young women, including Cam, from his New Haven house. Now Jane lives in terror that someone will find out what she did and didn't do. Jane retreats to Bearkill, Maine, where Lizzie, a sheriff's deputy, hopes against hope to find her niece, missing since her sister's murder eight years before. A tough cookie, Lizzie can't resist getting involved in the case of another missing girl, whose mother is less than forthcoming. Meanwhile, a fire raging in the nearby woods serves as an objective correlative of the case, burning all who touch it.