My Sister's Grave - Robert Dugoni

If I could've given Det. Tracy Crosswhite some advice as she was digging into her sister's disappearance, that would be it.

It's been 20 years since Sarah went missing from Cedar Grove, a small town near Seattle. Tracy spent the first 10 investigating every angle & found enough discrepancies to doubt they put the right man away. Now, 2 decades on, they've found the body.

Tracy returns to bury her sister's remains, more certain than ever that Edmund House was not only wrongly convicted but framed. The defence attorney, sheriff & county prosecutor from that time are still in town but oddly unwilling to discuss the case.

Forensics on the body reveal chilling evidence & Tracy turns to an old friend for help. Back in the day, Dan O'Leary was a geek with thick glasses. He recently moved home & when he shows up at the funeral as an attractive & successful lawyer, Tracy barely recognizes him. 

After reading her case file, Dan agrees to take on House's appeal for a new trial. This sets in motion a chain of events designed to prevent them from getting at the truth & ultimately puts their lives in danger. But who is behind it & what are they hiding?

 

This is a fast paced & easy read with enough red herrings to keep you guessing 'til the end. Chapters in the first half alternate between the past & present so we are privy to scenes from the sisters' childhood up to the day Sarah disappeared. We witness the disintegration of the Crosswhite family set against the backdrop of a town that has lost its' innocence.

It also reveals how Tracy went from young, married chemistry teacher to hardened homicide detective. Initially she's a difficult character to like but as the novel reaches the halfway mark, the pace picks up & switches to the present. Now she's in her element & becomes more interesting as she & Dan fight for the truth. Dan is a charming, funny guy who brings out the softer & lighter side hidden behind her tough outer shell.

The last quarter is a full on thriller as secrets from the original trial begin to surface & a blizzard isolates the town, leaving Tracy at the mercy of her sister's killer. The setting shifts from a friendly small town to one of tense claustrophobia as the final scenes play out.

 

This would make a great "airplane" book. Intricate enough to hold your attention & clever plot twists that ensure you keep reading to learn who-dun-it.