Twenty years ago Madeline Barker's father disappeared. Despite what everyone else thinks, Madeline's convinced her stepfamily had nothing to do with it. But the recent discovery of his car finally proves he didn't just drive away. Worse, the police find something in the trunk that says there's more to this case than murder.
With no other recourse, Madeline decides to hire a private investigator—even if the cops don't like it. Even if her family doesn't like it. But when P.I. Hunter Solozano begins to uncover some shocking evidence, someone in Stillwater is determined to put a stop to Madeline's search for the truth.
And that means putting a stop to her. Permanently.
Novak's latest Stillwater novel (after Dead Giveaway) revisits the small Mississippi town, where journalist/newspaper owner Madeline Barker is still seeking closure two decades after the disappearance of her father, a town minister. When police find her missing father's Cadillac submerged in a quarry outside of town, Maddy is determined to discover, finally, what really happened. Maddy hires L.A. private eye Hunter Solozano to solve the case, but neither expects to find romance: Hunter is an embittered divorc , and Maddy recently broke up with a domineering boyfriend. While their relationship simmers, Hunter discovers some disturbing truths about Maddy's father and his domestic life; before long, a series of sinister phone calls and a botched robbery raise the stakes. Strong characters bring the escalating suspense to life, and the mystery is skillfully played out. Novak's smooth plotting makes for a great read, but the conclusion, though organic, has perhaps too much shine and not enough surprise.