Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they’ve failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore. But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up. Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run? Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices: the girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.
Casey Cox is forced to flee town when her DNA is found all over the home of her murdered friend, Brent. She wishes she could tell her side of the story but there's a whole murky history around the truth that leads her to believe no one will really hear her out. Rather, they'll want her dead.
Afghanistan war veteran Dylan Roberts, back home after a recent honorable discharge following a PTSD diagnosis, is looking for a fresh start. Unfortunately, he finds most employers, scared off by the PTSD, reluctantly turn him away. But because his former work was that of a military criminal investigator, he does end up finding work as a contracted, outside private investigator for the police department investigating the murder. Additionally, Dylan is recruited by Brent's parents to track down Casey, bring her back to answer for the murder. Dylan's side of the story reveals that he was actually the childhood best friend of murder victim Brent, but the friends drifted apart as they progressed into adulthood. The more facts Dylan uncovers behind Brent's life just prior to his murder, and the more he gets to know Casey through others who knew her and swear there's no way she could be a brutal murderer, the more he starts to suspect a more sinister story someone wants covered up. This suspicion is only heightened as he notices how the police department he's working for seems very determined to keep him on a specific path of investigation. What is it they seem to want to veer him away from?
Crime dramas are far from being one of my go-to genres, so I may not have been the best audience for this kind of story. For me, this one had a mix of strong points and weak spots that left me giving it a right down the middle kind of rating. Good at times, but I don't know how much of it will stick with me if you ask me about it weeks later. I will say I found the opening and closing chapters pretty strong in the writing, it was that tricky part in the middle that was up and down for me.
After those first few chapters, the pace of the plot seemed to slow down noticeably, my attention wandering a good bit as I was reading. For someone on the run, Casey just wasn't selling the intensity for me. There weren't any super nasty bad guys immediately on her trail to keep me anxious while reading, just a lot of her chilling on buses and in seedy motel rooms figuring out her next move. Also, Dylan didn't seem to have to work too hard to catch up with her. It felt like he just had a quick couple of conversations and he was right on her trail in just a day or two. And why did every one of Brent's old friends seem to refer to themselves as his very best friend?!
I think my favorite part of the story was the side story regarding the rescue attempt in the final chapters. THAT had the intensity I kept waiting for! I just wish the rest of the novel had had that feel to it.
I found myself a little disappointed with Blackwell's "A Note From The Author" in the back of the book. It felt like an unnecessary, awkward rant. What bothered me most though was how she spoke of Christians being villianized and persecuted for their beliefs throughout history yet just a few short paragraphs later slyly knocks atheists and agnostics for their beliefs. As someone who is a strong believer and advocate for the right to religious freedom, that whole kettle / pot business soured me a bit for reading any of Blackstock's books in the future.
FTC Disclaimer: TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.