People tend to think of us as shadows. Blurred black mist. Often, it’s “out of the corner of my eye.” People sense the cold. I’ve heard of ghost hunters who use a tape measure, laying it on the ground to mark our boundaries. I don’t want to be measured.
In 1983, deep in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest, the bodies of a young woman and two children were found. Who were they? How did they get there?
Thirty years later, two women find themselves drawn to the cold case. Librarian Laura MacDonald begins her own investigation as a way to distract herself from breast cancer treatments and becomes consumed by her search for answers. Jean Martinez is a veteran detective determined to keep working cold cases for the Sierra County police force even as her family begs her to retire. With only fragments from dusty case files and a witness who doesn’t want to remember, this unlikely duo is determined—no matter the cost—to uncover the truth behind the murders. And with their help, the woman in the woods is finally able to tell her story on her own terms and summon the power to be found.
The Night Flowers—a haunting debut thriller written with pulse-pounding precision and a deep understanding of the psychology of violence and the tenacity of those who combat it—announces the arrival of Sara Herchenroether as an exciting new voice.
In Herchenroether's poignant debut, research librarian Laura MacDonald is perusing a crime website while awaiting a double mastectomy in a Connecticut hospital when a post catches her eye: in 1983, hikers lost in Sierra County, N.Mex., found barrels containing the skeletons of a woman and two girls. Thirty years later, the victims remain unidentified, so Laura decides to use her professional skills to investigate. Meanwhile, despite pressure from her husband to retire and help the couple's single daughter raise her child, Det. Sgt. Jean Martinez has reopened the Sierra County Sheriff's Department's case file on the same hikers, hoping recent media coverage triggered by the discovery's anniversary will turn up a lead. As the women's investigations converge, Jane Doe's ghost worries that if her killer is caught, she'll only be remembered for how she died. Nuanced characters and artful prose complement the intricately crafted mystery, but what distinguishes Herchenroether's tale is her visceral, resonant recounting of Laura's cancer experience: Laura "had no voice. No identity outside her diagnosis." This author is off to a strong start.