Saturday, August 8, 2020

ARC Review: A Desperate Place by Jennifer Greer

A Desperate Place 
Author: Jennifer Greer
Series: A McKenna and Riggs Novel (Book 1)
Publication: Crooked Lane Books (August 11, 2020)

Description: Three separate homicides. Three unrelated victims. One grisly secret.

When the body of famous actress Niki Francis is unearthed from its shallow grave, the small town of Medford, Oregon is alarmed, but not shook. After all, there should be plenty of motives and suspects--Niki had fame, wealth, looks. The kill was targeted, premeditated, and it's about her celebrity. Or so they thought.

Whit McKenna is licking her wounds, working as a reporter for the local Medford rag. Fresh from a harrowing assignment for her previous post at the L. A. Times  which cost her her husband, Whit must pull herself together for the sake of her two daughters. The wound has hardly begun to scab when she's called to cover the murder, so she teams up with her best friend, medical examiner Katie Riggs. Then two more victims turn up, completely disconnected from one another, and McKenna loses all hope of a breakthrough.

Rather than clarity, the possible suspects and motives become scrambled. But time is running out, and each front page article McKenna writes brings her closer to a killer who will stop at nothing to realize a deadly vision.

My Thoughts: This story introduces a new detective duo. 

Whit McKenna has come to Medford, Oregon with her two teenage daughters after the death of her husband. She was a reporter and he was her photographer in Kabul when they were kidnapped by Taliban terrorists. Taken into the mountains, they got a chance to run but her husband John was shot and killed by the terrorists. Whit escaped with the help of a Special Forces team training in the area but she was left with PTSD and a terror of forests. 

Katie Riggs is a police detective who switched to being a medical examiner after a bout with melanoma.

The two women met at a local book club and bonded. They frequently meet for coffee or a drink and they are running partners. Katie encouraged Whit to get back into journalism even though cops and journalists often have contentious relationships. 

Both of them are looking at a crime but from different viewpoints when the body of famous actress Niki Francis is found buried in a shallow grave. While Whit goes looking for witnesses that she can quote for her story, Katie gets involved in the autopsy where it is discovered that Niki had a teratoma growing on her spine. Teratomas are relatively rare and were just a matter of interest but not necessarily relevant to her investigation.

Then there is a house fire and Whit happens to be there to see the body of the homeowner. She interviews a neighbor who gives her some insight into the lawyer who died. He seems to have been going through some kind of mid-life crisis causing him to leave his wife and take up with a young Czech woman. Whit is approached by the man's wife who is sure that her husband was murdered and she begs Whit to investigate. Then there is a third victim when a lawyer who is found in her pool and is suspected of drowning. But both lawyers have teratomas too.

I enjoyed this story which was an entertaining medical sort of mystery. I liked the personalities of the two main characters and liked that both of them had a lot of depth to their stories. I would be eager to read more about this pair of sleuths.

Favorite Quote:
"Murder is life smothered mid-sentence."

I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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