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by Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Dee Henderson novel. I believe she took a break from publishing, but in the last couple years has roared back with several releases. Her latest is Traces of Guilt, the first in the Evie Blackwell Cold Case series.

Gideon Thane is the sheriff of a rural Illinois county, the son of a former sheriff and a man with no desire to live anywhere else. Evie Blackwell is an Illinois state cop from Springfield on a working vacation. She’s looking into two missing persons cold cases in the county as a trial run for a new task force being assembled.

Ann and Paul Falcon, the main characters of Full Disclosure, are prominent characters in this story. Ann is responsible for Evie’s visit and the keeper of secrets.

Trace of Guilt is classified as romantic suspense. Frankly, there’s little romance and even less suspense—at least in the way we normally expect it from the genre. I’d call it more a police procedural with emotional depth as Evie and Gideon attempt to solve two years-old cases. She’s able to compartmentalize her work, delving into it as if each case was a puzzle to solve, then leaving it at the office. Gideon has his family to keep him on level ground, though he’s tested with each revelation.

As for the romantic element, at any moment, Evie expects a proposal she won’t know how to answer. Gideon’s fiancée died and he’s somewhat satisfied with his life as it is. Though he won’t rule out a happy-ever-after, he’s not actively pursuing one. The attraction is understated, but so powerful in the author’s use of a token Gideon constantly provides Evie.

A thick book at almost 400 pages, I whipped through it in no time. It seemed one crime led to the discovery of another. (Carin County is not a safe haven.) I pondered as I read, but the twists were enough to keep me guessing and surprised. That said, in the real world, I believe at least one of the cases would have (and should have) been solved much earlier.

Overall, it’s an intriguing book, and I look forward to the next one to see, not only how Evie’s mind works, but how she and Gideon grow as love interests.

Do you like all your plot lines tied up at the end of one book, or are you satisfied to have the main plot line finished while something else is left dangling?

 

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