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Trace of Evil

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A riveting mystery that introduces a bold and audacious rookie detective assigned to hunt for a killer who is haunted by the past in this gripping murder case… Natalie Lockhart always knew she was going to be a cop. A rookie detective on the Burning Lake police force, she was raised on the wisdom of her chief-of-police father. These cases will haunt you if you let them. A riveting mystery that introduces a bold and audacious rookie detective assigned to hunt for a killer who is haunted by the past in this gripping murder case… Natalie Lockhart always knew she was going to be a cop. A rookie detective on the Burning Lake police force, she was raised on the wisdom of her chief-of-police father. These cases will haunt you if you let them. Grief doesn’t come with instructions. But the one thing her father couldn’t teach her was how to handle loss. Natalie’s beloved sister was viciously murdered as a teenager, and she carries the scars deep in her heart. Although the killer was locked up, the trace evidence never added up, and Natalie can’t help wondering―is the past really behind her? As the newest member on the force, Natalie is tasked with finding nine missing persons who’ve vanished off the face of the earth, dubbed “the Missing Nine.” One night, while following up on a new lead, she comes across a savage crime that will change everything. Daisy Buckner―a popular schoolteacher, wife to a cop, and newly pregnant―lies dead on her kitchen floor. As Natalie hunts for Daisy’s killer in the wake of the town’s shock, her search leads to a string of strange clues―about the Missing Nine, about Daisy’s secret life, and reviving fresh doubts about her sister’s murder. As the investigation deepens, Natalie’s every move risks far-reaching consequences―for the victims, for the town of Burning Lake, and for herself. Spellbinding and gripping, Trace of Evil is a novel of twisting suspense that will leave you breathless


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A riveting mystery that introduces a bold and audacious rookie detective assigned to hunt for a killer who is haunted by the past in this gripping murder case… Natalie Lockhart always knew she was going to be a cop. A rookie detective on the Burning Lake police force, she was raised on the wisdom of her chief-of-police father. These cases will haunt you if you let them. A riveting mystery that introduces a bold and audacious rookie detective assigned to hunt for a killer who is haunted by the past in this gripping murder case… Natalie Lockhart always knew she was going to be a cop. A rookie detective on the Burning Lake police force, she was raised on the wisdom of her chief-of-police father. These cases will haunt you if you let them. Grief doesn’t come with instructions. But the one thing her father couldn’t teach her was how to handle loss. Natalie’s beloved sister was viciously murdered as a teenager, and she carries the scars deep in her heart. Although the killer was locked up, the trace evidence never added up, and Natalie can’t help wondering―is the past really behind her? As the newest member on the force, Natalie is tasked with finding nine missing persons who’ve vanished off the face of the earth, dubbed “the Missing Nine.” One night, while following up on a new lead, she comes across a savage crime that will change everything. Daisy Buckner―a popular schoolteacher, wife to a cop, and newly pregnant―lies dead on her kitchen floor. As Natalie hunts for Daisy’s killer in the wake of the town’s shock, her search leads to a string of strange clues―about the Missing Nine, about Daisy’s secret life, and reviving fresh doubts about her sister’s murder. As the investigation deepens, Natalie’s every move risks far-reaching consequences―for the victims, for the town of Burning Lake, and for herself. Spellbinding and gripping, Trace of Evil is a novel of twisting suspense that will leave you breathless

30 review for Trace of Evil

  1. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    4.5 stars. Alice Blanchard's new novel, Trace of Evil is a terrific, atmospheric mystery, full of twists and turns, and it's a great start to what I hope will be a new series. Natalie Lockhart is a rookie detective in her hometown of Burning Lake, NY—a town which almost rivaled Salem, MA back in the day with the presence of witches. Kids and adults like still dabble in witchcraft, and there’s been some unfounded rumors of satanism through the years. Like any rookie cop in Burning Lake, Natalie is 4.5 stars. Alice Blanchard's new novel, Trace of Evil is a terrific, atmospheric mystery, full of twists and turns, and it's a great start to what I hope will be a new series. Natalie Lockhart is a rookie detective in her hometown of Burning Lake, NY—a town which almost rivaled Salem, MA back in the day with the presence of witches. Kids and adults like still dabble in witchcraft, and there’s been some unfounded rumors of satanism through the years. Like any rookie cop in Burning Lake, Natalie is tasked with looking into the nine cold cases of local transients that have gone missing through the years. But just as she starts making some promising headway, Daisy Buckner, the wife of a fellow police detective, a popular high school teacher, and one of her older sister's best friends, is murdered. While there appears to be a pretty clear suspect in Daisy’s murder, they end up in a coma shortly after Daisy's body is discovered. But the more Natalie digs into the murder, the more confusing things get, as it appears both Daisy and her husband had secrets of their own, secrets creating an ever-widening circle of guilt and suspicion in the town. Is this case as cut-and-dried as it appears, or are things more complicated than anyone can imagine? As Natalie fights to uncover the truth, she has her own demons to fight, too, demons stemming from her oldest sister’s murder many years before, and the emotional scars of a childhood attack. She also must figure out which people know more than they're willing to share, about Daisy's life, her murder, and many other questions and issues in the town. Alice Blanchard has created a terrific set of characters and a vivid mystery which kept me guessing. There was a lot going on here, as the cold cases meshed with Daisy's murder, Natalie's older sister's murder, and an incident from her own childhood. As the book hurtled toward its conclusion, things got a bit confusing at times. There is a lot of violence in the book, more telling than showing, so that may upset some folks. Regardless of my minor criticisms, Trace of Evil was the start of what I hope will be a terrific series (hopefully with more Natalie and Luke?). I won a complimentary copy of this book via a Bookstagram giveaway. Thanks to Minotaur Books for making it available! See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kaceey

    Natalie Lockhart may be new to the detective unit but you’d never know it. She presents herself as seasoned as any of them. Tonight she’s on duty when she receives the worst possible news. A brutal murder of a beloved and very pregnant schoolteacher who just happens to be the wife of one of her detectives! Alice Blanchard writes a captivating novel that will reel you in and keep you zipping through the pages, firmly holding you locked-in and guessing. Oh yes….with just a hint of possible love Natalie Lockhart may be new to the detective unit but you’d never know it. She presents herself as seasoned as any of them. Tonight she’s on duty when she receives the worst possible news. A brutal murder of a beloved and very pregnant schoolteacher who just happens to be the wife of one of her detectives! Alice Blanchard writes a captivating novel that will reel you in and keep you zipping through the pages, firmly holding you locked-in and guessing. Oh yes….with just a hint of possible love interest in the air!💖 The ending possibly had one twist too many and just didn’t match the tone of the book. There were many pieces of the puzzle and questions left unanswered. Hopefully that will be cleared up in the next installment. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the lead character and will definitely be reading the next release of this new series. A fabulous buddy read with Susanne! Thank you to Minotaur Books for an ARC to read and review

  3. 5 out of 5

    Susanne Strong

    4 Stars. A Compelling, Heart-Stopping Mystery! The Town of Burning Lake is not what it seems. Children growing up practicing Witchcraft and everyone keeping an abundance of secrets. Natalie Lockhart is the newest Detective in the Burning Lake Police Department and she has her work cut out for her. Her first case is a cold one. Finding leads on “the Missing Nine” people who vanished years ago. Sounds kind of impossible until a new lead turns up. Then Natalie literally stumbles upon a dead body. 4 Stars. A Compelling, Heart-Stopping Mystery! The Town of Burning Lake is not what it seems. Children growing up practicing Witchcraft and everyone keeping an abundance of secrets. Natalie Lockhart is the newest Detective in the Burning Lake Police Department and she has her work cut out for her. Her first case is a cold one. Finding leads on “the Missing Nine” people who vanished years ago. Sounds kind of impossible until a new lead turns up. Then Natalie literally stumbles upon a dead body. That of her friend Daisy Buckner, beloved school teacher and wife of one of her colleagues. Almost everyone is a suspect. Every clue Natalie finds leads to something else and one even makes her heart clench. It has to do with the death of her eldest sister Willow, which has haunted her since the day it happened. Could these deaths and disappearances possibly be related? It’s up to Natalie and the Chief of Police to find out, no matter what the risk. What a compulsive and intriguing read this was! I truly enjoyed the characters of Natalie and Luke (the Chief of Police) and can’t wait to see how their characters progress in future novels! This was a heart stopping buddy read with Kaceey. Thank you to Minotaur Books and Alice Blanchard for the arc. Published on Goodreads on 12.21.19.

  4. 4 out of 5

    J.D. Barker

    Witchcraft, a brutal murder, and secrets buried in a sleepy town's past... With TRACE OF EVIL, Blanchard expertly weaves mystery and spine-tingling suspense. A tense, nail-biter of a thriller! Many thanks to the author and publisher for the advance read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Alan

    I had a hard time getting through this one because the writing is mediocre. It’s was a paint-by-numbers novel with characters that didn’t come to life because the author relies on info-dumps of telling us a lot of background. I should have liked Detective Natalie Lockhart. She cares about people who have struggled in life because of lack of money or abusive parents, but because I was TOLD she cares about people who’ve had it rough instead of being SHOWN she cares through her actions, she didn’t I had a hard time getting through this one because the writing is mediocre. It’s was a paint-by-numbers novel with characters that didn’t come to life because the author relies on info-dumps of telling us a lot of background. I should have liked Detective Natalie Lockhart. She cares about people who have struggled in life because of lack of money or abusive parents, but because I was TOLD she cares about people who’ve had it rough instead of being SHOWN she cares through her actions, she didn’t seem like a real person to me. I know it’s fiction, but in a well-written novel, the characters can seem like real people because they come alive in my imagination. This is the first of a series of books with Detective Lockhart, who lives in Burning Lake, New York, a city that has seen many people on the fringes of society disappear over the years. Transients, people with drug and alcohol problems, the homeless. Natalie’s own sister was murdered by her boyfriend twenty years ago and now Natalie is investigating the murder of her other sister’s close friend, a woman who had been like another sister to Natalie, the youngest of the three girls. Sometimes when I read a novel with a detective as the protagonist, I’ll wonder if the author actually worked as a detective herself because the story seems so believable that it’s hard to believe the writer is in fact, just a writer who did a lot of research but has never worked in law enforcement. I didn’t feel that way with this book. Instead I found myself thinking, “hmm, really?” Like when a suspect is given a polygraph, instead of yes/no answers to yes/no questions, he gives an interview. Granted, I only know this stuff from movies, but it didn’t seem accurate. Also, the dialogue is not good. The daughter addresses her mother with the word “mom” in every sentence, which is simply not how people talk in real life. Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book, which RELEASES DECEMBER 3, 2019. For more reviews, please visit http://www.theresaalan.net/blog

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mandy White

    I heard so many great things about this book so I was really looking forward to reading it. I listened to this on Scribd and as soon as it started I knew that I was going to love it. It is a police procedural with a splash of witchcraft and dark magic! I am already looking forward to learning more about Natalie Lockhart and her family. As a child Natalie idolised her father and always knew that she wanted to follow in his footsteps and join the police force. He is a woman with a troubled past, I heard so many great things about this book so I was really looking forward to reading it. I listened to this on Scribd and as soon as it started I knew that I was going to love it. It is a police procedural with a splash of witchcraft and dark magic! I am already looking forward to learning more about Natalie Lockhart and her family. As a child Natalie idolised her father and always knew that she wanted to follow in his footsteps and join the police force. He is a woman with a troubled past, losing her sister in a horrific murder 20 years ago. Now she is working cold cases in her hometown. On duty one night she is called to a crime scene and is shocked to hear that the address is that of her colleague, finding his wife murdered in her own home. Daisy is a much loved teacher, pregnant with her first child and Natalie's sisters best friend. Who would want her dead? It is a story that keeps you guessing, and an ending that really shocked me. I was hooked from the first few chapters and just had to keep reading.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    In order to get to understand Natalie Lockhart you need to know two things about her: where she comes from and her family. Burning Lake is a small town in upstate New York, mostly famous for the burning of three innocent women convicted of witchcraft which happened in 1712. Their accusers later admitted it had all been made up. For years this event remained buried in town history until a book about the witch trials came out and put the town on the map. Hundreds of tourists come to visit its In order to get to understand Natalie Lockhart you need to know two things about her: where she comes from and her family. Burning Lake is a small town in upstate New York, mostly famous for the burning of three innocent women convicted of witchcraft which happened in 1712. Their accusers later admitted it had all been made up. For years this event remained buried in town history until a book about the witch trials came out and put the town on the map. Hundreds of tourists come to visit its occult shops selling magic kits, spellbooks and souvenir cauldrons. 'Dabbling in witchcraft was something of a rite of passage in Burning Lake' and Natalie herself went through 'a witchy phase'. Another thing you need to know about Natalie is that she is the youngest of three sisters, and her oldest sister Willow Lockhart was brutally murdered at the age of 18, stabbed 27 times. The perpetrator was quickly arrested and sentenced for life, although he repeatedly maintained his innocence. The tragedy marked the remaining two sisters and their parents. Their mother never wanted to have more than one child, so having lost her favourite daughter destroyed her world and will for living.Natalies father was more even in his affections. He was a police officer and often left little puzzles and mysteries for Natalie to solve. He noticed she had an inquisitive mind and a stubborn streak, and tried to teach her everything he knew about his work. Trace of Evil focuses on two interwoven cases. The first one is called The Missing Nine and is a group of cold cases that involved mysterious disappearings over a long period of time. Any new detective in BLPD is asked to give these files a fresh look, although nobody expects a major breakthrough: there is too little reliable information to go on. The second case is the murder of school teacher and Natalie's sister's best friend Daisy Buckner, who also happened to be the wife of one of the detectives in BLPD. I'm not going to give away the story. Suffice it to say, the story kept me on the edge of my seat and the ending was quite unexpected. There is also a touch of burgeoning romance with an old childhood friend, which is, I hope, going to develop in the following books. I liked Natalie for her tenacity and her courage, which I define as acting in spite of fear. She often thinks about her late father and his advice on life and work. These cases were very personal for Natalie for a variety of reasons, but I would like to read the continuation of the story and find out how Natalie's character evolves in the light of other experiences. The writing was absolutely compelling, there was depth and beauty in the descriptions, which made it really difficult for me to put down the book - I needed to read it from cover to cover. My only regret is that I did not read this book in October- with it's dark and slightly creepy atmosphere, it would have made an excellent choice for the Halloween month. I will definitely be looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Thank you to Edelweiss and Minotaur books for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nancy McFarlane

    Trace of Evil unfolds in a sleepy tourist town near the Adirondack Mountains, in upstate New York. The tourist flock to see where 3 local witches were supposedly killed in the days of the witch hunts and Salem witch trials. Because of the ties to witches there has always been an interest in the occult and black magic and satanism and the town has cashed in on this to promote tourism. But on the whole it is a sweet town, where everyone knows his neighbors, and where everyone knows the secrets Trace of Evil unfolds in a sleepy tourist town near the Adirondack Mountains, in upstate New York. The tourist flock to see where 3 local witches were supposedly killed in the days of the witch hunts and Salem witch trials. Because of the ties to witches there has always been an interest in the occult and black magic and satanism and the town has cashed in on this to promote tourism. But on the whole it is a sweet town, where everyone knows his neighbors, and where everyone knows the secrets that this little town harbors. There is still teenage dabbling with the occult just like when Detective Natalie Lockhart was in school, there are troubled marriages just waiting for the trouble to bubble to the surface, and there is murder… too much murder… some solved, some unsolved, some cold cases and some new. As a new hire Natalie is given the cold case of the missing nine and is determined to help find out what happened to these girls over the years. Then comes a new murder – one very close to home - and Natalie has to separate her professional instincts from the personal feelings she has for the suspects. There is a lot more than a trace of evil hiding in this tiny town as you will discover when the shocking ending is revealed.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ash

    Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Trace of Evil is a police procedural that revolves around the murder of Daisy Buckner, a high school teacher in Burning Lake, New York. I’m relatively new to the mystery genre and this is the first book I’ve read starring a detective. I was never a fan of shows like Criminal Minds and NCIS, so I was skeptical that I would enjoy Trace of Evil, but I ended up loving it. The first thing that Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Trace of Evil is a police procedural that revolves around the murder of Daisy Buckner, a high school teacher in Burning Lake, New York. I’m relatively new to the mystery genre and this is the first book I’ve read starring a detective. I was never a fan of shows like Criminal Minds and NCIS, so I was skeptical that I would enjoy Trace of Evil, but I ended up loving it. The first thing that drew me into this book was Alice Blanchard’s writing style. Her use of descriptive language is captivating. I was transported to Burning Lake, a midsize town in upstate New York that’s basically a second-rate Salem, famous for the wrongful execution of a trio of alleged witches in the eighteenth century. These days, the fictional town has embraced its occult past, and it’s common for Burning Lake teens to go through a witchy phase of their own. Blanchard’s second strength is her characters, who leap off the page. The story is told entirely from the third person point-of-view of Detective Natalie Lockhart, the BLPD’s only female detective. Her father was a police officer, and her sister was killed by her violent ex-boyfriend when they were both teenagers. Blanchard’s side characters were as complex and three-dimensional as Natalie was. I thought the romance between Natalie and her childhood friend and fellow detective, Luke, was poorly integrated at times, but it was a relatively minor plot point so it wasn’t egregious. In addition to the murder of Daisy Buckner, there were a few other mysteries that made for intriguing subplots. One of these subplots focused on the Missing Nine, nine transients in Burning Lake whose disappearances or deaths were never solved. Another focused on an unidentified boy who attacked Natalie when she was a child. I sped through this book; it was well-paced and the ending took me completely by surprise. Every time I thought I had figured something out, I was proven wrong. I had only a few minor complaints. The dialogue was occasionally awkward and the narration occasionally cheesy. The narrative was unquestioningly pro-police, which I always find a little iffy, but I guess that’s to be expected from a procedural. This book contains multiple descriptions of animal mutilation.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kelly (UnshelvedEdition)

    I am the first to admit when i am feeling skeptical about a book and this was one of those times. I have been having trouble getting into thrillers lately so I was nervous about this one, however I ended up being pleasantly surprised Trace of Evil is a brilliantly crafted mystery novel that lures you into the witchcraft and cold cases of a small town. With so much on the line, the lead detective Natalie, finds herself in the middle of solving two cases at once, both equally fascinating I worried I am the first to admit when i am feeling skeptical about a book and this was one of those times. I have been having trouble getting into thrillers lately so I was nervous about this one, however I ended up being pleasantly surprised Trace of Evil is a brilliantly crafted mystery novel that lures you into the witchcraft and cold cases of a small town. With so much on the line, the lead detective Natalie, finds herself in the middle of solving two cases at once, both equally fascinating I worried that the witchcraft aspect would take over the story and take it down a strange path but it held true to being a minor layer that was only infused when relevant and never went over the top The story kept me guessing and the characters kept me invested, I ended up flying through this book dying to know more See more reviews on Instagram @UnshelvedEdition

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Atmospheric and creepy, this is the perfect thriller for a dark autumn night. Natalie Lockhart is a police officer in he town where she grew up, and is investigating the murder of a woman she's known all her life, the best friend of one of her sisters. Natalie's other sister was murdered twenty years ago, and her death hangs over the current case. The town is also haunted by it's history of executing suspected witches, and generations of teen girls have experimented with magic and witchcraft. I Atmospheric and creepy, this is the perfect thriller for a dark autumn night. Natalie Lockhart is a police officer in he town where she grew up, and is investigating the murder of a woman she's known all her life, the best friend of one of her sisters. Natalie's other sister was murdered twenty years ago, and her death hangs over the current case. The town is also haunted by it's history of executing suspected witches, and generations of teen girls have experimented with magic and witchcraft. I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery and the atmosphere in this book. The town history, the teen girl drama, and the way the case intertwined with Natalie's personal life all had me completely engrossed. I'd recommend this to anyone who likes creepy mysteries or police procedurals. The witchcraft angle reminded me a bit of The Craftsman. I will definitely read the next book in this series. *I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sonica

    Thank you, Minotaur Books, for gifting me an advanced copy of this spooky read, which releases December 3, 2019. Serial killing, witchcraft and buried secrets and lies, this book has all the ingredients for the perfect scary binge read. The main protagonist, Natalie Lockhart's character is so badass. A rookie detective who is fighting ghosts from her own past is now faced with solving a local crime, playing against the odds that are stacked against her. I'm looking forward to where Blanchard takes Thank you, Minotaur Books, for gifting me an advanced copy of this spooky read, which releases December 3, 2019. Serial killing, witchcraft and buried secrets and lies, this book has all the ingredients for the perfect scary binge read. The main protagonist, Natalie Lockhart's character is so badass.  A rookie detective who is fighting ghosts from her own past is now faced with solving a local crime, playing against the odds that are stacked against her.  I'm looking forward to where Blanchard takes Natalie's story next. I enjoyed this book very much.  I was a bit hesitant about the witchcraft initially but it turned out to be executed in a not so over the top manner and flowed easily within the storyline without getting too ridiculous.  The short chapters and eery suspense really kept me engaged through to the end. Blanchard mastered the art of suspense without the usual predictability that thrillers tend to contain. This was my first book by this author and it definitely won’t be my last. I am already looking forward to Book 2 in this series. I highly recommend this book be added to thriller fiction fans’ reading list this month.

  13. 4 out of 5

    The Nerd Daily

    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Marla Warren I was excited to learn that Alice Blanchard’s Trace of Evil is the first book in a new series, as she has written an incredibly engaging character in Detective Natalie Lockhart: a young detective working in the town she has grown up in, so it is guaranteed that she will have some kind of history with, or pastime revolving around, most everyone she interacts with. It adds an extra layer to her story when we know that around every Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Marla Warren I was excited to learn that Alice Blanchard’s Trace of Evil is the first book in a new series, as she has written an incredibly engaging character in Detective Natalie Lockhart: a young detective working in the town she has grown up in, so it is guaranteed that she will have some kind of history with, or pastime revolving around, most everyone she interacts with. It adds an extra layer to her story when we know that around every corner is not just the current situations, but always elements of the past as well. Throughout the novel, over and over we see that Blanchard has started with a concept we read often, but the author then pushed past the typical mystery or thriller tropes to give us something new. Natalie’s father was a cop, but he passed away years ago and is not a figure in the current story. Natalie’s sister was murdered, but again this takes place many years before the events of this story – Natalie was not created to be an avenging angel for her sister. And what most drew me in was the fact that Natalie is not an old, jaded, bitter detective, but she is also not the “dumb rookie” who constantly needs to be rescued by her older (male) counterparts. Natalie comes across as a young detective, which gives her a distinctly different voice than many fictional female detectives, but she is also clearly a competent officer who has earned her position among her fellow detectives. The shifts away from the typical formula we have all read too much of made Trace of Evil a true page-turner. The central mystery revolves around the murder of a popular high school teacher, whose husband happens to be one of Natalie’s fellow detectives. While it may seem there are some obvious suspects, it is just not that easy. Nothing, in fact, in the town of Burning Lake, New York is simple, easy, or straight-forward. The town has a dark distant past closely associated with the Salem witch trials, but there is also clearly some interest in witchcraft and black magic in its much more recent past – and perhaps even in the present. Knowing all this, Natalie has to unlock the secrets the victim took to her grave, but also the secrets of many others in this insular town, including those of her friends and family. Blanchard created an interesting cast of characters that all come across as real, distinct people. Her settings are beautifully detailed and her masterful twists and turns make for an exciting read with an ending that both completely satisfies, but still leave room for more Natalie Lockhart stories in the future. The only negative comment I can make is that some of the dialogue in the first few chapters felt a bit clunky or awkward. There is always something of an information dump at the beginning of a story (or a television show, or a movie) and it is extraordinarily difficult to perfectly lay out all the necessary background exposition in a smooth organic way. Blanchard doesn’t always accomplish this, but as it only occurs in the very beginning, I likely would not have even remembered it by the end if I hadn’t been writing notes to myself along the way. It is momentarily distracting, but definitely does not take away from this fantastic thriller. I am so excited about future books featuring Detective Lockhart, but in the meantime I am going to be adding some of Alice Blanchard’s back catalogue to my TBR! I was excited to learn that Alice Blanchard’s Trace of Evil is the first book in a new series, as she has written an incredibly engaging character in Detective Natalie Lockhart: a young detective working in the town she has grown up in, so it is guaranteed that she will have some kind of history with, or pastime revolving around, most everyone she interacts with. It adds an extra layer to her story when we know that around every corner is not just the current situations, but always elements of the past as well. Throughout the novel, over and over we see that Blanchard has started with a concept we read often, but the author then pushed past the typical mystery or thriller tropes to give us something new. Natalie’s father was a cop, but he passed away years ago and is not a figure in the current story. Natalie’s sister was murdered, but again this takes place many years before the events of this story – Natalie was not created to be an avenging angel for her sister. And what most drew me in was the fact that Natalie is not an old, jaded, bitter detective, but she is also not the “dumb rookie” who constantly needs to be rescued by her older (male) counterparts. Natalie comes across as a young detective, which gives her a distinctly different voice than many fictional female detectives, but she is also clearly a competent officer who has earned her position among her fellow detectives. The shifts away from the typical formula we have all read too much of made Trace of Evil a true page-turner. The central mystery revolves around the murder of a popular high school teacher, whose husband happens to be one of Natalie’s fellow detectives. While it may seem there are some obvious suspects, it is just not that easy. Nothing, in fact, in the town of Burning Lake, New York is simple, easy, or straight-forward. The town has a dark distant past closely associated with the Salem witch trials, but there is also clearly some interest in witchcraft and black magic in its much more recent past – and perhaps even in the present. Knowing all this, Natalie has to unlock the secrets the victim took to her grave, but also the secrets of many others in this insular town, including those of her friends and family. Blanchard created an interesting cast of characters that all come across as real, distinct people. Her settings are beautifully detailed and her masterful twists and turns make for an exciting read with an ending that both completely satisfies, but still leave room for more Natalie Lockhart stories in the future. The only negative comment I can make is that some of the dialogue in the first few chapters felt a bit clunky or awkward. There is always something of an information dump at the beginning of a story (or a television show, or a movie) and it is extraordinarily difficult to perfectly lay out all the necessary background exposition in a smooth organic way. Blanchard doesn’t always accomplish this, but as it only occurs in the very beginning, I likely would not have even remembered it by the end if I hadn’t been writing notes to myself along the way. It is momentarily distracting, but definitely does not take away from this fantastic thriller. I am so excited about future books featuring Detective Lockhart, but in the meantime I am going to be adding some of Alice Blanchard’s back catalogue to my TBR!

  14. 4 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    "Butterflies as symbols of evil. How could that be?"________ 3 1/2 stars Natalie Lockheart is conflicted. She has a list of hard things she'd faced in her life. Natalie's now back in her hometown of Burning Lake as a detective. Burning Lake a town where everyone knows everyone, but in the end, they didn't. A town with a history of witchcraft that drew tourists and troubled the teenage population. The attraction of witchcraft for the teenagers of the town is like a rite of passage. All partake, not "Butterflies as symbols of evil. How could that be?"________ 3 1/2 stars Natalie Lockheart is conflicted. She has a list of hard things she'd faced in her life. Natalie's now back in her hometown of Burning Lake as a detective. Burning Lake a town where everyone knows everyone, but in the end, they didn't. A town with a history of witchcraft that drew tourists and troubled the teenage population. The attraction of witchcraft for the teenagers of the town is like a rite of passage. All partake, not all relinquish it. "On the surface, it would appear that Burning Lake had a sparse Wiccan population, but that was due to the fact that many of them were still in the broom closet." We have disappearances, we have secrets, we have dead bodies and we have concentric circles linking everything together. "Death was like a secret. You could bury it deep underground, but it wouldn’t stay buried for long. Eventually, our secrets—like old bones—had a way of knuckling out of the earth and into the sunlight. You had to make your peace with fate." Twenty years after their sister Willow's murder, Natalie, her sister Grace and her niece Ellie gathered at the cemetery as they did each year to celebrate Willow's deathiversary. Later that same evening, Daisy Buckner is found "in a puddle of blood" on the kitchen floor by her husband Detective Brandon Buckner and Natalie. Daisy was a longtime friend of Grace's and a co-worker teaching at the same school. The hunt for Daisy's murderer leads to all sorts of possibilities, including Wiccan curses. Always in the background, humming away, is the town's love-hate affair with its witchy history, the secret covens and the chant kids have grown up with, "By air and earth and fire and rain, we will remember you.” But that's not all, there's also the "Missing Nine." "Nine transients [who] had gone missing from Burning Lake." "These pitiful victims were mostly unloved and forgotten." As the newbie on the force one of Natalie's tasks is to review the files--just in case! Then there's Natalie's recurring memory of a childhood trauma that occasionally overwhelm's her. I am conflicted about this story. It was exhausting but I just had to kept reading, feeling that around another corner might lie the answer! Question! Do answers lie? Some do! Some lay in wait ready to trip us up. The truth revealed here will trip most of us up. A St. Martin's Press ARC via NetGalley

  15. 4 out of 5

    Trisha

    Thank you to Minotaur Books for the gifted copy! Natalie Lockhart is a detective in her hometown of Burning Lake, NY. The town has a history with the occult, having been the site of the killings of 3 accused witches centuries ago. Wicca and covens are popular, especially with the local teenagers. Natalie herself experimented with it as a teen. Now as an adult, she tasked with investigating nine cold cases, as well as the recent murder of local teacher, Daisy Buckner, who is also a friend of her Thank you to Minotaur Books for the gifted copy! Natalie Lockhart is a detective in her hometown of Burning Lake, NY. The town has a history with the occult, having been the site of the killings of 3 accused witches centuries ago. Wicca and covens are popular, especially with the local teenagers. Natalie herself experimented with it as a teen. Now as an adult, she tasked with investigating nine cold cases, as well as the recent murder of local teacher, Daisy Buckner, who is also a friend of her sister Grace. Natalie must figure out if Daisy's murder is related to the cold cases, while also contending with her and her family's own dark past. Guys. This book. THIS. BOOK. I don't even know where to start because I've got such a massive book hangover from it. This is the first hard copy ARC I've read, and I'm so happy it was. The story is Law and Order meets The Blair Witch Project. Every character is so well-written; Natalie, especially, feels so relatable and familiar. I could not stop reading. This book is the literary equivalent of extra buttery movie theatre popcorn: you promise yourself you're only going to have a bit, and then BAM, it's all gone before you know it. I wish my review were more eloquent, but I just can't stop gushing about how freaking awesome this book is. My only complaint is that I can't read the next one in the series right now. Spoiler alert: everyone of my family members is probably getting a copy of this for Christmas.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Natasha Niezgoda

    I WILL BE STICKING WITH THE SERIES! BUT YOUR GIRL IS CLUNKY. It’s no wonder why my first review of 2020 is a crime procedural. Natalie Lockhart has just been promoted to detective. Her first assignment is a cold case - The Missing Nine. But right as she’s about to dive into it, a brutal murder of her partner’s wife throws the team into a manhunt for the killer. As clues present themselves, Natalie starts to see links. Could these cases be related?! Oooo yes friends, as far as plot is concerned - I WILL BE STICKING WITH THE SERIES! BUT YOUR GIRL IS CLUNKY. It’s no wonder why my first review of 2020 is a crime procedural. Natalie Lockhart has just been promoted to detective. Her first assignment is a cold case - The Missing Nine. But right as she’s about to dive into it, a brutal murder of her partner’s wife throws the team into a manhunt for the killer. As clues present themselves, Natalie starts to see links. Could these cases be related?! Oooo yes friends, as far as plot is concerned - ace! Loved it. It was atmospheric and had this Salem-witch-trial vibe to it that I was totally into and didn’t find cheesy at all. And the murder case was gripping and bizarre and eerie! But here’s the tea... the pacing was off. It was like a HIIT workout - 60 seconds of sprinting and then 5 minutes of walking followed by 30 burpees. It lacked finesse and that gradual tension that makes you wanna glue your eyelids to your eyebrows so you can stay awake reading. I don't need a set cadence, but I need some sort of rhythm to the madness. What I’m getting at is I think Alice Blanchard is still getting her footing with this series. I mean, it’s only Book One, so it’s TOTALLY acceptable. But I also wouldn’t say “buy this as a birthday gift”. For seasoned crime readers, this book might annoy you because the “catch-the-killer” part is clunky. But if you wanna devour a story that’s ritualistic and dark, then yes. Do it! So with that said, it’s a 3.5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 from me (rounded up). Will I read the next book in the series? ABSOLUTELY! Because like I said, I think Blanchard is still assessing Natalie Lockhart’s playing field and I wanna see where that goes!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Romancebooksandmore

    By romancebooksandmore A bit of spooky a bit of family so much mystery and you will never know where this story is going. it says its the first book in the series so i'm expecting much more from Natalie seeing where she goes from here and what new mystery's and heartaches will be in her future. perfect Halloween read to . curl up with. though since this book actually does not come out until December maybe pretend it's Halloween. not to scary only minimal romance you will love it so get on picking By romancebooksandmore A bit of spooky a bit of family so much mystery and you will never know where this story is going. it says its the first book in the series so i'm expecting much more from Natalie seeing where she goes from here and what new mystery's and heartaches will be in her future. perfect Halloween read to . curl up with. though since this book actually does not come out until December maybe pretend it's Halloween. not to scary only minimal romance you will love it so get on picking this book up when it comes out in a few months and look out for the continuation of Natalie's story in future books. on for the keep shelf that is for sure and I'm usually not a big mystery fan but I ate this book up one delicious word at a time

  18. 5 out of 5

    Fictionophile

    A small town in Upstate New York idyllic to the casual observer. Beautiful autumn foliage, stunning scenery, and an interesting history of witchcraft. Now the witchcraft is a tourist industry but the town still holds many dark secrets beneath the attractive veneer. Natalie Lockhart grew up in Burning Lake. She has followed in her father's footsteps in choice of her career path. She is working as a rookie detective for the town's police. When she and a co-worker find his beautiful wife murdered in A small town in Upstate New York idyllic to the casual observer. Beautiful autumn foliage, stunning scenery, and an interesting history of witchcraft. Now the witchcraft is a tourist industry but the town still holds many dark secrets beneath the attractive veneer. Natalie Lockhart grew up in Burning Lake. She has followed in her father's footsteps in choice of her career path. She is working as a rookie detective for the town's police. When she and a co-worker find his beautiful wife murdered in their home, Natalie becomes embroiled in a case that will change her life and the dynamics of the entire town. MY THOUGHTS Almost two decades ago I read Alice Blanchard's "Darkness Peering" and I remember it as a great read. Therefore I was excited to receive a copy of her latest novel to see how her writing has evolved. Once again she has written an engaging story with well defined characters. Her plot was compelling and the setting picturesque. All good, right?  For some unidentifiable reason, I found myself enjoying the story, but not the execution of the story. I was invested enough in the protagonist and the plot to really want to know how the story ended, yet I found myself skimming parts. Skimming is something I rarely do, and it is usually a 'red flag' to me - letting me know that my reading experience is somehow lacking. Perhaps it is just my own personal frame of mind, but even though it 'ticked all the boxes' for a stellar read for me, it just didn't quite fulfill my expectations. The ending reveal of 'whodunnit' came as a surprise to me, but I felt it was a bit contrived - aimed to shock the reader.  I feel it could have been a remarkable thriller, and I'm quite certain that many readers will feel it is. It just wasn't for me. "Trace of Evil" is the first novel in a prospective series featuring Natalie Lockhart. This is probably one series I will not pursue. I must state that my opinion is in the minority as this novel has received many stellar reviews. I rated this novel at 3.5 stars and rounded down for Goodreads and rounded up for Amazon as the two sites have drastically different meanings behind their star ratings. My thanks to Minotaur Books/Macmillan Publishing for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of this novel via Edelweiss. All opinions are my own.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Reads a Latte Thrillers

    This story is so well done. From the description of the quaint, upstate New York town seeped in witchcraft folklore, to the individual characters. This entire book played like a movie in my head and I was lured in right from the first chapter. The book begins with Natalie and Grace, two sisters, visiting the grave on the “Death-a-versary” of their oldest sister, Willow, who was murdered by a jealous boyfriend 20 years ago. Natalie is a detective with the local police department and Grace a This story is so well done. From the description of the quaint, upstate New York town seeped in witchcraft folklore, to the individual characters. This entire book played like a movie in my head and I was lured in right from the first chapter. The book begins with Natalie and Grace, two sisters, visiting the grave on the “Death-a-versary” of their oldest sister, Willow, who was murdered by a jealous boyfriend 20 years ago. Natalie is a detective with the local police department and Grace a teacher at the local high school. The story takes another tragic turn when another teacher, Daisy is found murdered in her home. Daisy, the wife of a fellow detective and best friend to Grace, Natalie is forced to put her grieving aside to investigate Daisy’s murder that occurred on the same date as her sister 20 years earlier. To add even more intrigue, Natalie has also inherited some dusty cold cases called the missing 9, a series of unsolved crimes that have been passed down from detective to detective. As Natalie investigates the crime of Daisy, she finds clues that tie back to her unsolved cases and also uncovers some disturbing facts involving her niece, Ellie and the witchcraft that haunts the sleep town. This book grabbed me from chapter 1 and didn’t let go until the last page. The interlocking stories are so well woven together and you’re forced you to sit up and pay attention. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good thriller or crime story told from a detective’s point of view. Well done!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Faulkenburg

    This book is gripping from start to finish. There are several different mysteries that swirl around the town of Burning Lake, from the most recent murder to a string of serial murders that are handed down to the most rookie cop on the city's police force. The story is intricate and complicated but Ms. Blanchard 100 percent pulls it off. The characters are well written (particularly Natalie) and the setting is well described. There is a bit of gruesomeness in the story, but it's not over the top. This book is gripping from start to finish. There are several different mysteries that swirl around the town of Burning Lake, from the most recent murder to a string of serial murders that are handed down to the most rookie cop on the city's police force. The story is intricate and complicated but Ms. Blanchard 100 percent pulls it off. The characters are well written (particularly Natalie) and the setting is well described. There is a bit of gruesomeness in the story, but it's not over the top. I found this book hard to put down. It's longer than many others of this type and while I felt the length, nothing was particularly wasted. I highly recommend you put this on your waiting list if crime/psychological thrillers are your thing, like they are mine!

  21. 5 out of 5

    AES

    An eerie murder mystery thriller that keeps you enthralled to the very end! Trace of Evil by Alice Blanchard is an intriguing murder mystery thriller that immediately captured my attention from the very first chapter. The haunting plot pulled me in, the investigation had me questioning everyone’s motives and the complex town mystery kept me guessing until the very end. This thriller is a fast paced read that is filled with lots of tension, twists and turns, and a shocking conclusion that makes An eerie murder mystery thriller that keeps you enthralled to the very end! Trace of Evil by Alice Blanchard is an intriguing murder mystery thriller that immediately captured my attention from the very first chapter. The haunting plot pulled me in, the investigation had me questioning everyone’s motives and the complex town mystery kept me guessing until the very end. This thriller is a fast paced read that is filled with lots of tension, twists and turns, and a shocking conclusion that makes this book impossible to put down. I always enjoy a mystery story where the lead character is a strong female detective. Trace of Evil is the first book in Alice Blanchard’s new series that takes place in the small town of Burning Lake, New York and introduces the reader to Natalie Lockhart, a rookie detective with a painful past. As the daughter of a 35 year veteran of the police department, Natalie is not new to investigations and murder. Years ago, she suffered the loss of her own sister who was violently murdered. As a new detective and the first woman assigned to the Burning Lake Criminal Investigation Unit, she is tasked with investigating the disappearance of nine transient women in a town accustomed to a strange and unnerving history. On the twentieth anniversary of Natalie’s sister’s death she discovers the body of Daisy Buckner, a lifelong friend, a beloved school teacher and the wife to another police officer. As her investigation into the murder proceeds, she discovers that Daisy had many secrets of her own. Although the main suspect is in a coma, Natalie begins to question the actions of some of Daisy’s students. When Natalie’s niece and her friends become involved, the investigation becomes personal. Will Natalie uncover the motive behind Daisy’s death? Will she be able to discover the mystery behind the nine missing women before someone else disappears? Are the disappearances related to Daisy’s murder? What other painful circumstances will Natalie uncover next as her investigation makes her question the person responsible for her sisters death and makes her suspect that the murderer is still actively killing others? As Natalie continues her investigation she reflects on her own childhood and a terrifying attack that has haunted her for years. She’s often pulled back in time as memories of her sisters, her family life and her own experiences of growing up in Burning Lake continue to distract her. As she follows new leads details about Natalie’s past, her sister’s vicious attack, and her close friendship with Luke Pittman, her Lieutenant are revealed. Can her past experiences help her with her investigations? Will her relationship with Luke change and grow? I really enjoyed reading this thrilling murder mystery. I was totally pulled into the plot and completely committed to seeing how Natalies’s investigation would proceed. The author’s descriptive writing style took me right into the story where I felt like an active participant in the investigation. I appreciated the complex history of the town and how its history influenced the actions of many of the characters. I also enjoyed the descriptions and depth of the many different characters in the story and the author’s ability to make them feel real. At times this story was eerie and dark which isn’t my favorite type of story but the author did a wonderful job of keeping the story moving so that it didn’t become overwhelming. I thought Trace of Evil was an amazingly complex, thrilling and completely captivating book. This was a wonderful beginning to Alice Blanchard’s new Natalie Lockhart series and I look forward to reading the next book in the series. Thank you to Minotaur books, Alice Blanchard and BookishFirst for the wonderful opportunity to win a copy of this wonderful book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    Natalie Lockhart is a rookie homicide detective in Burning Lake, which is a town of about 50,000 in upstate New York. In the 1700s, three women were hung as witches there. Now the town plays up the occult for tourists. A school teacher and wife of a police officer is murdered in her kitchen. Although Natalie has been assigned nine cold cases of transients gone missing, the entire force is on this case. Natalie is an interesting character with her family background providing the impetus for being Natalie Lockhart is a rookie homicide detective in Burning Lake, which is a town of about 50,000 in upstate New York. In the 1700s, three women were hung as witches there. Now the town plays up the occult for tourists. A school teacher and wife of a police officer is murdered in her kitchen. Although Natalie has been assigned nine cold cases of transients gone missing, the entire force is on this case. Natalie is an interesting character with her family background providing the impetus for being a cop. Her father was on the force and started out teaching Natalie about law enforcement at a young age. She was a good artist as a child but always wanted to go into police work like her dad. Her sister Willow was stabbed to death 20 years ago. I liked the way she worked all angles of the case and didn't automatically assume the detective husband was innocent. If you like spells and witchcraft, try this book. I don't but the amount was not off-putting to me. The author wrote good descriptions of the bucolic area. There's definitely an action packed ending. I always enjoy a book where the killer is not obvious to me. The ending had more than one surprise.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    4.5 stars In Trace of Evil, we meet Natalie Lockhart, a rookie detective whose current caseload includes investigating the disappearance of nine transients who have gone missing from her small town. When Natalie drives an intoxicated coworker home one evening, they enter his home to find his wife has been murdered. As the investigation into this new case takes priority, Natalie discovers that witchcraft was involved. Unfortunately, the main suspect is in a coma and the process of looking into the 4.5 stars In Trace of Evil, we meet Natalie Lockhart, a rookie detective whose current caseload includes investigating the disappearance of nine transients who have gone missing from her small town. When Natalie drives an intoxicated coworker home one evening, they enter his home to find his wife has been murdered. As the investigation into this new case takes priority, Natalie discovers that witchcraft was involved. Unfortunately, the main suspect is in a coma and the process of looking into the murder becomes far more complicated and frightening than anyone could have anticipated. Additionally, when another homeless person goes missing, the clear signs of a serial killer begin to emerge. The complexities of this story drew me in quickly. Although I am not usually drawn toward police procedural novels, Trace of Evil offers so much more with its intricate mystery and emotional depth. The well-developed, nuanced characters are easy to invest in. Of course, the reader is most privy to Natalie’s thoughts and feelings. We see her as a tough cop, a vulnerable woman still wrestling the grief of her own sister’s murder, and a lonely individual with a broken heart and hidden feelings for her superior. Her many dimensions created an authentic feel and interesting storyline. The writing is very descriptive but not overly done. Blanchard paints each scene thoroughly so the reader can imagine it well. I easily envisioned this book playing out like a movie in my mind. Although the story moves slower than the average thriller, it is a solid mystery that proves to be quite satisfying. Nothing is overt and I felt like I was trying to solve the crime alongside Natalie Lockhart. This is the first novel I’ve read by this author but it certainly won’t be my last. Since Goodreads notes that this is the first in a series, I am excited to see what the future holds for the protagonist! If you’ve grown weary of predictable narratives, as I have, I do believe you will find Trace of Evil to be a refreshing change of pace! Thank you Minotaur Books for this advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

  24. 4 out of 5

    amanda

    What had once been beautiful was dead. We really are kicking this fall off with some spooky great books and I’m really excited about it! At first I was hesitant about Trace of Evil because I thought it would be a boring police procedural book but it exceeded my expectations and more. Despite her mom’s wishes Natalie Lockhart knew she was destined to be a cop. It’s in her blood after all. Raised by a police chief, Natalie is the youngest of three sisters and besides the job has been through her What had once been beautiful was dead.
 We really are kicking this fall off with some spooky great books and I’m really excited about it! At first I was hesitant about Trace of Evil because I thought it would be a boring police procedural book but it exceeded my expectations and more. Despite her mom’s wishes Natalie Lockhart knew she was destined to be a cop. It’s in her blood after all. Raised by a police chief, Natalie is the youngest of three sisters and besides the job has been through her own mountain of tragedy. Her oldest sister, Willow, was tragically murdered, as a teenager and grief firmly planted its roots in her family. It nestled and it grew. Natalie is now a rookie cop and is tasked with solving the cases of “the Missing Nines”. That all gets sidetracked when a shocking murder rocks the small town of Burning Lake and redefines the past and who she is as a person completely. I wouldn’t say this was difficult to get into but for me it took a few chapters to read before I was fully engaged. But when I was, I was all the way in. It’s a slow burner and we are introduced to a lot of characters and a lot of history so it’s overwhelming at first but this is to be expected when it’s a book about a small town. Everybody knows everybody else and the history is grand and toxic. That’s what makes it so great in the big scheme of things. The plot was really interesting and a twist from the usual mystery/detective angle. I liked how there was a coven/witch angle to it. I mean, HELLO THE CRAFT?? It was different and also showed how teenagers can throw things completely out of proportion. I did think that maybe a little too much was put into this book and I’m wondering if perhaps this will become a series? If so that would be terrific. I found there were a few issues with the pacing. A lot seemed to be jam packed in one book which made me just a tad bit overwhelming for me. Natalie. Sweet, amazing Natalie has been through so so much. Okay, there absolutely has to be more of her to read because this poor woman has absolutely been through HELL her entire life. LOL, she needs some sort of happiness. I legit gasped at the big twist and clutched my head. I wasn’t expecting it at all and was also completely pissed off. This is a great read for you thrill seekers like me who want to read about murder in a small town and get a rush at trying to solve what the hell is going on. I almost never get it right but that’s exactly what makes it so fun. Don’t judge me. Thank you very much to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this ARC. All opinions are my own. Let’s hit Replay. Let’s rewind the tape.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jean Kolinofsky

    Natalie Lockhart grew up in Burning Lake, New York, a town associated with the Salem witch trials. She is now a rookie police officer. On her desk is a list of nine women who disappeared over time, a list that has been passed from officer to officer with little progress. Now it has been passed to her. When the wife of Daisy Buckner, a local teacher and the wife of a fellow officer, is discovered, suspicion falls on one of her students that she had been helping. He had made threats against her in Natalie Lockhart grew up in Burning Lake, New York, a town associated with the Salem witch trials. She is now a rookie police officer. On her desk is a list of nine women who disappeared over time, a list that has been passed from officer to officer with little progress. Now it has been passed to her. When the wife of Daisy Buckner, a local teacher and the wife of a fellow officer, is discovered, suspicion falls on one of her students that she had been helping. He had made threats against her in the past, but when her husband chases him down he suffers a seizure and falls into a coma. Daisy had been a friend of Natalie and her sister Grace and as she becomes involved in the investigation she suspects that her marriage was in trouble. Alice Blanchard has constructed a complex story of murder and witchcraft. The murder of Natalie’s sister Willow twenty years earlier, the disappearance of the nine and the death of Daisy Come together in a finale that will leave you stunned. This book is listed as the first in the Natalie Lockhart series and I am looking forward to more in this series. I would like to thank BookishFirst for providing this book for my review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Wonda

    Found myself eye rolling at the main characters, really all the characters immaturity...the whiplash between cold cases and new murders...Sorry, next!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    "Death was like a secret." Such powerful and revolting action here that I still cannot believe this is the first in the Natalie Lockhart Series. This was a breath of fresh air with every aspect of a thriller nail biting story line that we all hope to indulge. The black witchery magic and darkness is evident almost from the start as we traverse into the realm of the gothic era. A time when revenge curses were commonplace and killing was perhaps a given. Natalie is the Detective who is trying to "Death was like a secret." Such powerful and revolting action here that I still cannot believe this is the first in the Natalie Lockhart Series. This was a breath of fresh air with every aspect of a thriller nail biting story line that we all hope to indulge. The black witchery magic and darkness is evident almost from the start as we traverse into the realm of the gothic era. A time when revenge curses were commonplace and killing was perhaps a given. Natalie is the Detective who is trying to uncover the truth. The main suspect in all this mess is Ethan but drugs and madness are present with Riley and all that resulted with the relationship between Daisy. Pregnancy in the senior year with an abortion resulted in the wrong decision making process but hook ups also took precadence. Now the stakes are even higher and with Willow already dead the need to find Ellie becomes crucial. It's purely a matter of life and death in this fantastic new read by Alice Blanchard. Highly recommend!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    The book blurb for this says it's "a riveting mystery that introduces a bold and audacious rookie detective" and I would have to agree with that completely. What they don't mention, which I think made this a great book, is the very creepy vibe that came with the setting. It's set in New England with grim weather and tales of witchcraft past and present. The author does a very convincing undertaking at setting the backdrop of the story in a dark and foreboding setting. Given that's one of my The book blurb for this says it's "a riveting mystery that introduces a bold and audacious rookie detective" and I would have to agree with that completely. What they don't mention, which I think made this a great book, is the very creepy vibe that came with the setting. It's set in New England with grim weather and tales of witchcraft past and present. The author does a very convincing undertaking at setting the backdrop of the story in a dark and foreboding setting. Given that's one of my favorite places for a good story, I knew that whatever the mystery was to bring, I was going to leave this book satisfied. I wasn't disappointed in any way. The mystery is great and the main character is very likable. Many thanks to the publisher for allowing me to read an advanced copy. This opinion is my own.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jen Bott

    How loss can change a family forever...Blanchard tells several stories of death and loss, expertly woven together. Detective Natalie’s Lockhart’s life is defined by her sister Willow’s death, as is her sister Grace. This loss acts as the backdrop for Detective Lockhart's parallel investigations into the “Missing Nine” cold case and the shocking murder of Daisy Buckner. Wiccan practices, family secrets and a small community’s history play a central role in these plot lines that make it Impossible How loss can change a family forever...Blanchard tells several stories of death and loss, expertly woven together. Detective Natalie’s Lockhart’s life is defined by her sister Willow’s death, as is her sister Grace. This loss acts as the backdrop for Detective Lockhart's parallel investigations into the “Missing Nine” cold case and the shocking murder of Daisy Buckner. Wiccan practices, family secrets and a small community’s history play a central role in these plot lines that make it Impossible to put this book down! With thanks to the publisher for the advanced reader copy.

  30. 5 out of 5

    CD {Boulder Blvd}

    3.5 rounded down Somewhat convoluted (multiple issues with past and present, always referencing dad's sage advice, cold case of 9 people) and then a very rushed ending. Not sure that I'm invested enough in Natalie to continue the series.

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