by Lis Wiehl
Series: The East Salem Trilogy #1
Genres: Faith-Based Fiction, Paranormal, Suspense
Welcome to East Salem. A deceptively sleepy town where ancient supernatural forces are being awakened. A local high-school girl is found murdered in a park amid horse farms and the wealthy homes of northern Westchester County, New York. The shocking manner of her death intrigues forensic psychiatrist Dani Harris. All the suspects are teenagers who were at a party with the girl--yet none remembers what happened. Could one of them be a vicious killer? Or is something more sinister afoot--something tied to an ancient evil? Across town, former NFL linebacker Tommy Gunderson finds his state-of-the-art security system has been breached by an elderly woman. Mumbling threats in Latin, she attacks him with an uncanny, preternatural strength. Before he has time to process the attack, someone close to him is implicated in the girl's murder at the park. He agrees to help--and finds himself working with Dani, the only girl who could resist his charm years ago when they were in high school. A heavy darkness is spreading. Yet a heavenly force is also at work.
Dani and Tommy suspect there's more to the mystery than murder, more to their growing friendship than chance . . . and more to the evil they're facing than a mere human killer.
This is the first book I have read by author Lis Wiehl. She has written such books as “Face of Betrayal”, a New York Times Bestseller, and part of her Triple Threat mysteries. After reading Waking Hours, I will be picking up copies of her earlier work. I really enjoyed this suspenseful, paranormal mystery thriller. This is the first book in the East Salem Trilogy.
The story takes place in quaint East Salem; a lakeside, close-knit community where everyone knows everybody. I loved the way the author portrayed this town, its buildings, people and places. It’s the type of New England town you dream of living in or visiting. A brutal ritualistic murder of a young woman occurs and sets this sleepy little town on edge. All of the suspects in this crime are teenagers who attended a party the night of the murder. Crime scene evidence suggests they were all involved, but all of the kids are suffering from memory loss.
Forensic psychiatrist Dani Harris, a member of the local DA’s office, finds herself taking the lead in this case when her boss in unavoidably detained. Dani has always been a hard-working overachiever in her professional life but in her personal life, not so much. She seems confident, like a woman with a plan, but she is often filled with self-doubt and questions her every move. PI in training, Tommy Gunderson is a formal pro-football linebacker and local celebrity. He left football after a tragic accident and opened his own gym. As a teen, he had a crush on Dani but felt he was way out of her league, and still does. If only he knew that cool confident Dani felt the same way.
The two end up teaming together to solve the murder. I enjoyed the chemistry between them. I found myself laughing at the hilarious things they would say, like two awkward teens on a first date. I sometimes thought they pulled pieces of the puzzle together a little too quickly, but overall the storyline was genuinely believable and kept me engrossed. Strange dreams, biblical references, supernatural occurrences and this overwhelming sense of evil made the story spooky and an ideal fall read. The ending set the stage perfectly for book two of this trilogy and I found myself searching for clues to its release.