Maggie Blackthorne is back, patrolling her area, considering moving in with Duncan, who she started dating in the previous book, and generally keeping the peace.
When her ex-husband JT shows up, it’s an unwelcome surprise. He has been demoted in between the last book and this one due to some sexual harassment claims. Maggie wants nothing to do with him and snaps at him to get to whatever it is he wants. He’s getting married, has become a Catholic, and want her to sign an annulment paper, to dissolve their marriage in the eyes of he church, even though they’re already divorced. She signs away, kicks him out and goes about her day.
The first item of the day is a pair of oxy addicts, reported to be in their area. The second, in conjunction with the first, is Dave Shannon’s stolen truck. It’s a fairly good call that the junkies have stolen it, because they’ve left their junker where his truck had been.
Then, the big one: JT has been found by a couple of tourists, dead. His throat has been slit and he had additional stab wounds. Bizarrely, his left ear is also missing. Detective Al Bach arrives as does Ray Gattis, the medical examiner. Maggie is a suspect, of course, since her and JT’s marriage had been rocky, to put it mildly. She’s also told later that JT’s new fiancee is pressuring the local State office to look into Maggie as the killer, and later that an IA case has been opened.
Attempts to find the pair of junkies prove unsuccessful until Janine Harbaugh, a volunteer fire watch lookout, calls into let Maggie know that she’s seen the truck weaving in and out of the forest, stooping, then moving again. Maggie gets to the area, driving through the forest, following the strange trail they’ve left.
Unfortunately for them, hey drive right over the edge of an embankment and are killed. Now Maggie has the task of figuring out why they were in town, where they thought they were going, and what they were looking for.
The resulting investigations of JT’s murder and the truck theft results in the two investigations coming together as actually the same case.
Meanwhile, Hollis and his wife are going through a tough time, Al and Ray are not really dating any longer, and Maggie has a bit of a secret she’s keeping from Duncan. The reader who is paying attention will guess that without any trouble at all.
Everything comes to a head at the end of the book, with a couple of confessions and a standoff with a disturbed man on top of the courthouse.
The only ding I’m giving this book is the road atlas tour we get whenever Maggie drives somewhere. I’ve said in previous reviews that I really don’t care how people get from point A to point B unless there is something important about the route. There are a couple of instances we do need to know about in this book, but the rest are useless to people like me or to people who have never been in the area (and sometimes those are the same people).
Four out of five stars, and another solid outing for Sgt. Maggie Blackthorne.
Thanks to Severn River Publishing and NetGalley for the reading copy.