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Willow Rose
What do we do when the truth hurts too much? Fresh out of the national academy - mother of two - FBI profiler Eva Rae Thomas is in over her head on her first assignment in Bestselling author Willow Rose’s breath-taking mystery.
Rose’s newest, a prequel in the Eva Rae Thomas Mystery series, reaches back to tell a story from newly-minted FBI profiler Eva’s early career, who determines that a cold-case—designated an open-and-shut domestic murder—might be more complicated than it seems. The case involves Arlene Wood, a young wife and mother who crashed her car into a tree in the wee hours of the morning. Arlene’s husband was arrested for her death, but Eva starts to suspect that the killer might still be at large and, even worse, might strike again. Given Eva’s initial place in the FBI hierarchy, she has little authority to reopen the case and must convince her superiors, and the victim’s family, to revive it.

Rose is known for her plot-twists, and readers who enjoy a fast-paced, exciting storyline with surprises will not be disappointed. The mystery is compelling and the prose is efficient, propelling the plot forward throughout the novel’s entirety. At the same time, Rose manages to craft character details that readers will easily connect with: fans of strong female characters with plenty of gumption will appreciate Eva’s willingness to do what she believes is right, regardless of the personal cost, and the portrait of Eva and Chad’s struggling marriage is particularly well-rendered.

Some readers may be daunted by the sprawling cast of characters to keep track of, and the plot’s premise—that a new FBI agent would be able to reopen and take the lead on a closed case—demands some suspension of disbelief. The narrative would have benefited from inclusion of more detail regarding the FBI’s structure and policies, especially as our rookie hero is immediately so convinced she’s right about a person’s innocence that she is willing to put her nascent career on the line. Despite some plausibility issues, and some phrasing that comes across as stilted, readers itching for a fast-paced, intriguing mystery will find much here that’s appealing.

Takeaway: A high-speed mystery that will satisfy readers looking for twists and a strong female protagonist.

Great for fans of: Louisa Luna’s Two Girls Down, Lisa Regan’s The Bones She Buried.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: B