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. 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 than one child, so having lost her favourite daughter destroyed her world and will for living.Natalies father was 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. 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. 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 reviews, please visit 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 impeccable 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. 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 than a trace of evil hiding in this tiny town as you will discover when the shocking ending is revealed. 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 surprisedTrace 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 fascinatingI 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 topThe story kept me guessing and the characters kept me invested, I ended up flying through this book dying to know See reviews on Instagram UnshelvedEdition 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. 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 InstructionsBut 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 EverythingDaisy 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 MurderAs The Investigation Deepens, Natalie S Every Move Risks Far Reaching Consequences For The Victims, For The Town Of Burning Lake, And For HerselfSpellbinding And Gripping, Trace Of Evil Is A Novel Of Twisting Suspense That Will Leave You Breathless 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.
- 384 pages
- Trace of Evil
- Alice Blanchard
- 26 November 2019 Alice Blanchard