Saturday 28 December 2019

Hid From Our Eyes

Finished December 6
Hid From Our Eyes by Julia Spencer-Fleming

This book was a long time coming as the author took a hiatus from writing due to several things happening in her personal life, including the illness and loss of her husband. My advance copy came with a letter explaining the reasons behind the hiatus, some of which I already knew as I follow her online. The new book is well worth waiting for however, and I had to remind myself to savour it rather than devour it.
There are several themes present here that provided a lot of plot opportunities: a transgender character, the struggle against addiction, the corruptive nature of power, taxes versus services, and the oft-thwarted path of youthful love.
Clare and Russ are dealing with the way their lives have changed with a baby, young Ethan. Clare wants to avoid institutional daycare, but that makes new parenting more complicated. She also has guilt over whether Ethan has long term effects from her struggles with addiction before she realized she was pregnant. A possible placement with her church may offer some respite for her.
But this novel doesn't just deal with events of the present day. It takes us back to two previous time periods through the occurrences of similar strange murders in each. The first is in August 1952, where a young woman dressed in a party dress is found dead in the middle of a lonely road with no apparent signs of trauma to explain her death and no personal effects to identify her. That August, young Harry McNeil is with the State Police and shares information with the chief of the Millers Kill police force.
In August 1972, Harry is chief of the Millers Kill police when a similar crime presents itself. A young woman in a party dress, dead on the same stretch of road. She is found by a young man on his motorcycle, a young man recently home from Vietnam and dealing with PTSD. A young man Harry knows, Russ Van Alstyne.
It is August in the present day, and a woman comes across another crime scene. This one is the same. A young woman in a party dress, on the same stretch of road, and Russ, now chief of police himself, recognizes it immediately, but waits for the rest of his team to look at all the evidence before sharing the previous cases. Neither of the two earlier cases was resolved, although the woman from 1972 was identified. But the coroner of the present day is determined to figure out the hard-to-determine cause of death and uses every means he can to do so. And forensics has come a long ways over the years. Russ hasn't shared this part of his past with Clare and so she begins to dig as well, looking for explanations.
Russ is also dealing with upcoming votes on whether to close the local police force down and use the State Police instead. Having to campaign and deal with the politics of this and the worry over the future of his staff occupy a large part of his time as well.
The crimes were very interesting, and the situations in Russ and Clare's lives even more so. We also saw more of the young female police officer Hadley, and of the former Millers Kill, now state police officer Kevin Flynn, which provided another couple of interesting plot lines.
This book has a lot going on, and a lot to think about. Thoroughly enjoyable.

1 comment:

  1. I like the sound of this, adding to my TBR, thanks for sharing your thoughts.