Friday, May 20, 2016

My Review: Traces of Guilt

I'm going to be honest (when am I not, really?). I don't particularly care for this cover.  It's a little weird (this from the girl who just read Steampunk) and though it does fit with the story, it isn't like Dee's other books.  Which maybe was the point - I don't know.  But while I loved what's between the covers, I don't much like them (I can't even remember what the back cover looks like [gets up to check] *concedes* the back cover is actually pretty cool).

Evie Blackwell loves her life as an Illinois State Police detective . . . mostly. She's very skilled at investigations and has steadily moved up through the ranks. She would like to find Mr. Right, but she has a hard time imagining how marriage could work, considering the demands of her job.

Gabriel Thane is a lifetime resident of Carin County and now its sheriff, a job he loves. Gabe is committed to upholding the law and cares deeply for the residents he's sworn to protect. He too would like to find a lifetime companion, a marriage like his parents have.

When Evie arrives in Carin, Illinois, it's to help launch a new task force dedicated to reexamining unsolved crimes across the state. Spearheading this trial run, Evie will work with the sheriff's department on a couple of its most troubling missing-persons cases. As she reexamines old evidence to pull out a few tenuous new leads, she unearths a surprising connection . . . possibly to a third cold case. Evie's determined to solve the cases before she leaves Carin County, and Sheriff Thane, along with his family, will be key to those answers.

About the Author:
Dee Henderson is the author of numerous novels, including Taken, Undetected, Unspoken, Full Disclosure, and the acclaimed O'Malley series. Her books have won or been nominated for several prestigious industry awards, such as the RITA Award, the Christy Award, and the ECPA Gold Medallion. Dee is a lifelong resident of Illinois. Learn more at
(Unfortunately, I couldn't find a picture of Dee.  I'm certain she's a lovely lady.  She's just quite private and isn't much for social media, which I'm pretty sure isn't a bad thing!)

My Review: 5 stars
This review might have a slight bias to it, because I’ve read all of Ms. Henderson’s books, and have loved every one of them! This one is definitely no exception, though I fear I may be running out of new things to say about her books. How do you find new words to describe outstanding writing that carries over from book to book? I can honestly say that Dee’s books have never disappointed me, even when the story didn’t exactly go the way I’d hoped or expected. I can never pick a favorite of her books, beyond whichever I’m currently reading. So at the moment, this one is my favorite, and I’m certain I’ll be reading it over again sometime soon.

There is something I find so incredibly captivating about this author’s writing, though I have never been able to pin it down to a single sentence or a specific something. Maybe it’s in the way that she draws me immediately into the story, or maybe how her characters become dear friends that I cheer for and mourn with, or how she weaves the mystery to keep me guessing, or how the book may have 400+ pages, but I breeze through it, then maybe tear up a smidge when I turn the final page. It’s there among the careful details and descriptions that bring every page and scene to life. It’s in the little extras that make her characters burst to brilliant life. It’s in the pieces that she so carefully fits into their places to make the story complete. It’s something that I can’t quite explain, but that I love just the same.

The first two words that come to mind when I think to describe Traces of Guilt to someone are “thoughtful” and “complex.” There are several story threads in play all at once, with differing view points and quite a few new characters. It took me a few chapters to get everyone straight and keep them that way, but I loved the layers of the story that were slowly revealed. I also really enjoyed how many of the characters got a voice here and there and that they were clearly defined so I wasn’t left trying to figure out who’s head I was in at any given moment. The thoughtful part comes from the difficult topics that are part of the main focus of the story. Dee is one of the few authors I’ve read that can take such hard things and handle them with the finesse shown in this book. The emotions behind this story are so vivid, that I often felt them along with the characters.
Evie Blackwell is one of the main characters and I loved her! This book appears to the first in a series that focuses around her, which I’m super excited for. Evie is a delightful character, funny, but also intensely focused and determined. I enjoyed following her as she attempted to think outside of the box and trace all of the possibilities to solve the cases put before her. That may have actually been one of my favorite things in this book - the mystery and all of the ways the story could go. She kept me guessing and thinking, trying to figure out what had happened, right along with Evie. We also meet several new characters, that I’m hoping with be returning in the books that follow. I’d love to find out what happens with Will and Karen, and Josh and Grace, as well as finding out whether Evie and Gabe ever move beyond good friends.

If you’re looking for a quick, light read, I’m not sure I would recommend this book. It carries a weight beyond that and delves into several hard topics and emotions. I found myself laying it aside more than once to simply think and take a breath before being hit with another question to be answered. And I actually loved that about it. I love books that cause me to stop and think, to wonder and chase the question of “what if?” I did really appreciate that though this book is marked to be the first in a series, there aren’t many questions left unanswered, so it can stand alone fabulously. There is a lead-in into the next book, but not a major cliff hanger or something to make me want to yell, “no!” when the final page was turned. Dee did an excellent job of leaving a few questions undone, but also answering the most important ones. I can’t wait to see what the next book holds for Evie, and all of the other dear characters I’ve come to love!
I received an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

Yay!  This was such a great book!  I scooped up a paper copy as soon as I could and I have plans to read it soon.  Thanks so much for stopping by and reading my very long-winded review!  If you'd like to check into it further, there are links below, as always!
Have a delightful day!


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