By Loreth Anne White
Lily Bradley’s carefully ordered world starts unraveling the moment Arwen Harper confronts her at a neighborhood barbecue.
But it gets worse — much worse — when the next day, as Lily sits in her psychotherapy office with a client, she sees her husband, Tom, run through the back gate. His shirt is stained red. He goes to a backyard shed, comes out bare-chested and runs into the house. Soon police sirens are rushing down the street toward their house.
The sirens send Lily back in time to a very dark place that neither her parents nor her younger brother survived.
As soon as she can end her therapy session, she races to her husband, now wearing a new shirt and talking to the police. He tells them that he saw a woman’s dead body at the base of a cliff in a nearby state park where he often runs. The woman is Arwen. She appeared to have fallen over the cliff.
Was it an accident? Or was it a homicide? That’s a question Detective Rulandi Duval needs to investigate.
Rue is a distinctive-looking Black woman who has given press briefings on three fatal sexual assaults on female joggers on area trails. While Rue isn’t certain that Tom Bradley is the “Jogger Killer,” she doesn’t think his story about the discovery of Arwen’s body holds water.
Author Loreth Anne White tells this story from different points of view — Lily’s, her young son Matthew’s, her daughter Phoebe’s, Tom’s, Rue’s, Arwen’s and Arwen’s son Joe’s — and at different points in time in relationship to Arwen’s death.
White opens the book with Arwen’s fall from the cliff. In the description, it appears that Arwen is either hallucinating or suffering from mental illness. But it’s also clear there’s another person present.
What makes this novel so intriguing are the secrets that various characters in the book are hiding. Each person’s secret, if exposed, might reveal another suspect in Arwen’s death.
This is a tightly written, suspenseful story that is a pleasure to read. While the multiple points of view and zigzagging timeframe has been used so much by mystery writers recently that it’s become monotonous, White uses it to excellent effect here.
This story was inspired by a true 2006 crime in which three members of the Richardson family were murdered in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.
The Author: Loreth Anne White
A former journalist, Loreth Anne White has worked in her native South Africa and Canada, which she now calls home. She is a best-selling author of thrillers, mysteries and suspense novels.
She is a three-time RITA finalist, an Arthur Ellis finalist and winner of multiple industry awards.
She divides her time between Vancouver Island, a ski resort in the Coast Mountains and a rustic lakeside cabin in the Cariboo.