Butterfly Kills: A Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery - Brenda Chapman

Book #2 in this great series picks up where "Cold Mourning" left off.

Jacques Rouleau is now living in Kingston to be near his ailing father & heads up the small homicide squad. He kept a spot open for Kala Stonechild & is rewarded when she comes to town & agrees to join the unit on a temporary basis. It's not long before they have their hands full.

Initially there are two separate investigations. Della Munroe accuses her husband of domestic abuse & has the bruises to prove it. Then grad student Leah Sampson is found horribly mutilated in her flat. She manned the phones at the campus Crisis Centre along with 4-5 others with backgrounds in psychology. Rumours swirl about her affair with a married man but his identity is a mystery.

In alternate chapters we meet Dalal, a young Indian girl struggling to conform to her parents' traditional rules. After her older sister rebelled & fled, she is little more than a slave in her own home. Her dream of being a nurse seems just that as she is groomed for the inevitable arranged marriage. 

Family honour is at stake & as this chilling story line unfolds, it becomes apparent the biggest threat to her future may come from someone close to her. 

Already stretched thin, Rouleau & his team begin to feel the heat when a second Crisis Centre worker is attacked. The MO is familiar & as the detectives dig into the personal lives of all involved there is no shortage of secrets & hidden agendas. 

On the home front, Kala remains restless & haunted by her past. She's unsure of where she belongs & this is complicated by a growing attraction to colleague Paul Gundersund. Meanwhile, Rouleau is putting down roots & his house search brings him into contact with a pretty real estate agent. Just one teeny little problem...she may have something going on with Malcolm Heath, his perma-tanned & PR obsessed superior officer. 

As the investigations progress, the author skillfully weaves together the story lines as some hard truths begin to surface. Tension mounts as Kala & Paul face personal danger as they race to save the next victim & the last third of the book will have you turning the pages as fast as you can to see who-dun-it & who's left standing. Even then there are a few surprises left over that hint at some changes in store for the next instalment. 

I really enjoy this series. Rouleau & Stonechild are original & compelling characters, fully realized with distinct personalities & well developed histories.  This book introduces new peripheral characters that flesh out the story but it is the interplay between these 2 very different people that drives the narrative. Add smart dialogue & a tight complex plot and you've got a compulsive read on your hands. 

While not necessary, I would recommend reading "Cold Mourning" first. As with many series, you'll get more out of this book knowing the full history behind these characters.