In Littlejohn’s enjoyable fourth mystery featuring Det. Gemma Monroe (after 2018’s Lost Lake), Gemma and her fiancé, Brody Sutherland, call on an old friend of hers, Caleb Montgomery, a retired judge who lives in the mountain town of Cedar Valley, Colo. The judge reveals that he’s been receiving death threats, and he wants Gemma to investigate. Shortly after their visit, the judge dies in a car bombing, making him the first victim in a string of deaths that seem to have no pattern. Might the murders be related to the sabotage at the newly refurbished Shotgun Playhouse? Or is the reason darker and decades old? As the sins of the town fathers come back to haunt the present Cedar Valley residents, Gemma must find a skilled killer hiding in plain sight. For a cop, she’s surprisingly out of touch with local gossip, unaware, for example, that the judge was separated from his wife. Still, Gemma remains a strong lead readers will want to see more of. Smooth prose compensates for the familiar plot. Agent: Pam Ahearn, Ahearn Agency. (Dec.)
One of MysteryTribune's "15 Best Crime, Mystery, and Thriller Books of December 2019"!
“[A] neat little procedural mystery. Littlejohn presents us with a lovingly detailed study of Cedar Valley.”New York Times
“Fans of Littlejohn’s mysteries (including Lost Lake, 2018) will settle into this familiar blend of smart sleuthing and realistic portrayals of Monroe’s home life. Recommend Littlejohn to those who enjoy Lisa Gardner’s novels.”Booklist
“Littlejohn continues methodically building her heroine's world, shifting from an almost supernatural-inflected focus to small-town secrets.”Kirkus
“Enjoyable. Gemma remains a strong lead readers will want to see more of.”Publishers Weekly
“A nicely crafted mystery and a hard one to figure out ahead of time.”Denver Post
“Littlejohn's strength is in her characters.”CrimeReads ("9 Books You Should Read in December")
Praise for the Gemma Monroe series:
“Small town Colorado police detective Gemma Monroe is a human and fallible heroine I can't wait to meet again, and Littlejohn’s prose is lyrical and gripping.” Deborah Crombie
“Compelling writing, a stunning setting in a Colorado ski town, a plot that twists with surprises. I loved all of it.” Margaret Coel, author of The Man Who Fell From the Sky
“An inviting read...satisfying and wrapped up in a way that readers won't see coming. Recommended to fans of Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache novels.”Booklist
Digging into the death of a friend threatens a police officer's idyllic vision of her heroes.
Moments after alerting longtime friend and Cedar Valley police officer Gemma Monroe (Lost Lake, 2018, etc.) that he's received a series of threatening letters, retired judge Caleb Montgomery is killed in a car explosion. Gemma is horrified. She can barely believe that Caleb is gone. She's even more alarmed when it appears that Caleb's murder is related to some ethical improprieties in his earlier career. Whatever morally questionable actions Caleb took seem somehow shared by Gemma's mentor, police chief Angel Chavez, though he is, of course, vague on details. Gemma fears that she can't adequately investigate Caleb's murder without knowing more, though knowing more may unravel her doubt-infused worldview even more. Luckily, the responsibility for investigating falls heavily on Fire Investigator Olivia Ramirez, an outsider to town whose tough exterior mirrors some of the walls Gemma has put up herself. Working in a tenuous triad, Gemma, partner Finn, and Olivia are able to relate Caleb's death to the life and trials of Josiah Black, a man ostracized by the Cedar Valley community some years ago through a potential miscarriage of justice. If they're right about the connections among all these histories, Caleb's murder may be the start of something bigger that could threaten all the town's residents if Gemma can't stop it first.
Littlejohn continues methodically building her heroine's world, shifting from an almost supernatural-inflected focus to small-town secrets.
Taking a break from candy-corn excess on Halloween night in Cedar Valley, CO, Det. Gemma Monroe makes a quick trip to visit old family friend Caleb Montgomery, a retired judge. He's appropriately spooked by the anonymous threats he's been receiving, and as Gemma walks away from his office, he's torn apart by an explosion. Motives keep coming and going, another man is killed, and Gemma worries that a copycat killer is on the loose. Following the LJ-starred Lost Lake.