Traces of Guilt – Dee Henderson – Bethany House – Published 3 May 2016
Evie Blackwell loves her life as an Illinois State Police Detective . . . mostly. She’s very skilled at investigations and has steadily moved up through the ranks. She would like to find Mr. Right, but she has a hard time imagining how marriage could work, considering the demands of her job.
Gabriel Thane is a lifetime resident of Carin County and now its sheriff, a job he loves. Gabe is committed to upholding the law and cares deeply for the residents he’s sworn to protect. He too would like to find a lifetime companion, a marriage like his parents have. . . .
When Evie arrives in Carin, Illinois, it’s to help launch a new task force dedicated to reexamining unsolved crimes across the state. Spearheading this trial run, Evie will work with the sheriff’s department on a couple of its most troubling missing-persons cases. As she reexamines old evidence to pull out a few tenuous new leads, she unearths a surprising connection . . . possibly to a third cold case. Evie’s determined to solve the cases before she leaves Carin County, and Sheriff Thane, along with his family, will be key to those answers
Ten billion stars out of five (because one billion stars just wouldn’t be enough). I’m always ecstatic when I start a new Dee Henderson book, but also a little apprehensive because how can she possibly continue to improve on what is already out-of-the-park brilliance. How can you improve perfection? Well, I don’t know how, but Dee Henderson obviously does because her books just keep getting better and better. And Traces of Guilt is simply amazing.
The world Henderson creates is completely absorbing. I love getting to know the characters. I love the way crimes are worked, the nitty-gritty details, the long hours, the pain and emotional toll. And I love the humour and family and faith that is mixed into the serious topics. I wanted to savour this story, wanted to know all the answers, wanted to see the journeys of each of the characters and wanted to read this book every moment that I could.
Evie Blackwell and Gabriel Thane are our main characters. Evie is starting work with the new cold case task force and is using her vacation time to get started on two cold cases in Carin County, Illinois. Gabriel is Sheriff of Carin County and works with Evie on the cold cases that have rocked their community. Ann Falcon (from Full Disclosure) brings these two together, but it quickly becomes obvious that there is more at stake than two isolated cold cases.
Ann and her husband Paul Falcon play a fairly large role in this story, as do Gabriel’s brothers Josh and Will, and their parents. A chapter from Josh’s perspective opens the book, and there are follow-up chapters from him, Ann, Will and even Grace and Karen, two women who also play important parts in the story and unfolding mysteries. These chapters are spread in between the majority of the sections that are from Gabriel and Evie. As a result, we get a great insight into all the characters, particularly the new ones. There are also mentions of a whole range of favourite characters, from the Bishops to Quinn and Lisa.
I love Dee Henderson’s heroes. Solid and steady, these men are men of faith and justice. Her heroines are equally impressive in their capacity and strength. There are some shattering reveals in this book. The cases are very personal to the characters and seeing their distress is heartbreaking. There are a number of mysteries in this book, some of which are solved more easily than others, but each is the perfect blend of intrigue, emotion and case details.
There is a lovely mix of romance in this story, despite the cases being the focus of the book. There are the continuation of old romances, Ann and Paul’s for example, that are a delight to read as continuing love stories. There are a few insights into ongoing romances, take Will Thane and his love interest Karen, who each get a chapter and have a few secrets of their own. And then there are the romances that are just beginning. Gabriel and Evie first meet in this book and they have a connection but if there is to be a continuing story it will progress in future books.
This book has all the makings of a new series. And yet, I could also see it being a standalone, with tie-ins to future but separate books, much like how Full Disclosure, Unspoken and Taken all have various mentions and connections in this book but have distinct story lines. Personally, I would love to continue Evie’s story, see her uncover more cold cases and work on the new cold case task force and I would really, really love more of the Thane brothers. But whatever Dee Henderson writes next I’m sure it will be every bit as wonderful, intriguing and perfect as Traces of Guilt.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: Christian suspense
Themes: Family. Cold cases. Detective. Crime. Faith. Friendship.
Published: 3 May 2016 by Bethany House Publisher.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook. 400 pages.