When a routine investigation yields evidence of a serious crime, a medical examiner and an anthropologist find themselves in a killer’s crosshairs in this thriller.Trudy Beasley, the assistant chief medical examiner for Philadelphia, expects the gritty crimes that come with working in a major city, but nothing prepares her for what is unearthed after a gas explosion. Investigators sifting through the rubble find skeletal remains that seem older and unconnected to the incident. In an attempt to learn more about the remains, Trudy contacts Benjamin Roberts, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania. Ben is fascinated by the discovery and estimates that some of the remains are those of a man who died within the last hundred years. (He “shows classic indicators of having used his fists for a living. If I was a betting man, I’d say he was a boxer in his youth.”) When Ben locates a fetal bone, Trudy is convinced a crime occurred. But Ben needs more evidence before he can make an official determination. They soon learn that they are not the only ones who are interested in the remains. Ben receives an email from a college student named Caroline Trey asking to work on the project, and Trudy’s office is vandalized. As the investigation progresses, an attraction develops between Ben and Trudy. While they are determined to identify the remains and find justice for the deceased, they must outwit a criminal who wants to keep the truth buried forever. This third installment of Flade’s Philly Heat series is a fast-paced thriller with the right amount of mystery and romance. Trudy and Ben are likable protagonists whose chemistry is palpable from the first chapter. While their romance is a significant subplot, it does not detract from the central mystery. The investigation of the remains unfolds slowly and methodically, enabling the author to introduce a colorful supporting cast of characters, including Special Agent Noah Danes and Pamela Dryden, a caregiver who harbors many secrets. Flade has a knack for finding opportunities to effectively add suspense to a scene, especially in one sequence in which a date between Ben and Trudy ends with an encounter with a potential stalker.
Yesterday's Over is the third book in the romantic suspense Philly Heat series. It explores the evolving passion and intrigue surrounding two very different individuals: Assistant Chief Medical Examiner Trudy Beasley and Forensic anthropologist Benjamin Roberts, who are drawn together when bones are unearthed under a row house after an explosion.
Their related jobs are linked by disparate approaches to problem solving. Trudy relies on gut instinct as much as her investigative and legal savvy, while Ben views the puzzle quite differently.
It feels unlikely that these two will wind up in love as well as professionally entwined, but opposites sometimes attract, especially when cemented by a growing dilemma that tests both their personal attraction to one another and their professional mettles.
The story opens with the aftermath of the explosion. Trudy is at the helm in a morgue, determined to employ her skills to unearth answers from smoky remains: "She couldn’t bring back the homes they lost, the lives destroyed, the memories buried under cindered rubble, but this she could do and would without complaint."
Her job is to find impossible answers. In fact, death is her job (as is stated in the opening lines of her story). Her task is also to maintain professional distance. But Ben's entry into the case and his inquiries place Trudy in a hard position both personally and professionally as events unfold to not just embrace them both, but threaten their perceptions and relationship.
Becky Flade's ability to craft a story that reflects romance and intrigue alike demonstrates a prowess at depicting both. Strong, compelling characters demonstrate their abilities and their vulnerabilities as death and adversity marks their passage through past and present conflicts.
Her dialogues are particularly astute, contrasting the emotions and interactions between these main characters with often-passionate encounters that reflect their individuality as much as their evolving connections:
"I didn’t mean it when I said thank you for the new sofa. I can choose and buy my furniture. I’ve been doing those things for myself my whole adult life before meeting you. I don’t want to be coddled. I’m a woman. A grown-ass woman.”
“I see that. Believe me.”
“Everybody keeps checking in on me. Like you, being polite, using soft tones like I’m a skittish kitten hiding in a wheel well. Alonzo, Buzz, Kylee, Lexi, Mike, even Sadie and Ellie. No one wants to tell me what’s going on with the investigation. I’m the one who said from the beginning this was a big deal. You would’ve been completely content studying your bones, writing a report, and calling it a day. Hey, can’t upset the hysterical female. I’m not hysterical. I’m pissed. And I feel bad for your damn cat.” She wiped the tears from her face. “I’m not crying because I’m upset. I’m crying because I’m furious.”
Flade utilizes just the right blend of tension and emotional connection to give her characters authentic, strong, realistic responses to their pleasures as well as their challenges.
The result is a suspenseful romantic story that operates on more than one level. Yesterday's Over will especially delight readers who look for stories of already-powerful women who evolve not because of male attraction, but in conjunction with what life throws at them.
Libraries seeking stories of romance and intrigue will find Yesterday's Over stands nicely apart from the series with its Philly-steeped atmosphere and portrait of investigators who must solve the puzzles of yesterday in order to move ahead into their futures, both as individuals and professionals, and with one another.