by Rita Herron
Series: Graveyard Falls #1
Genres: Suspense thriller, Romantic Suspense
A young woman lies dead at the bottom of a waterfall, dressed in a wedding gown with a rose stem jammed down her throat. And in the small town of Graveyard Falls, the horrifying vision stirs a long-ago nightmare back to life…FBI Special Agent Cal Coulter gets called in to investigate the murder, which bears a terrifying resemblance to a series of killings committed thirty years ago: three teenage girls were found dead at the waterfall’s base, all bearing rose stems in their throats. But the high school football star was convicted and imprisoned for those murders, leading Cal to suspect that the killer is still out there. Now, the body count is rising again. The monster’s sights are set on counselor Mona Monroe, Cal’s best friend’s widow…and the woman he’s always loved. Can Cal stop the killer before Mona becomes the next victim?
As we head into fall, mysteries and suspense thrillers become a favorite read. All the Beautiful Brides by Rita Herron the first book in her Graveyard Falls series delivered a suspenseful murder mystery with a light dish of romance on the side. Old murders, new murders and a perspective from the killer made this a page-turner.
Thirty years ago, the small town of Graveyard Falls was rocked by the brutal murder of three teenage girls. Thanks to the ruthless diligence of the local sheriff, Jason Piker, the town football hero was charged and imprisoned. Jason is now up for parole and on the anniversary of the first murders a woman is found murdered at the falls. The MO is eerily similar and some begin to wonder if the real killer is behind bars.
Mona Monroe the widowed wife of Agent Cal Coulter’s partner has recently taken up residence in Graveyard Falls. She is a psychologist and amateur profiler. After her parent’s death, she received a letter from them sharing that she had been adopted. Along with the letter, there was a small baby bootie charm and a receipt from Graveyard Falls. Curious about her birth parents she is hoping to find them. Agent Coulter is curious about the case, but uneasy about running into Mona. I found their history interesting and Herron weaved their story into this suspenseful thriller.
All the Beautiful Brides was perfectly paced giving us insight into Mona, Agent Cal and those of the present day killer. We also revisit the earlier case and meet those directly affected. Herron adds twists, turns and red herrings as we tried to stop the killer. While there is a second chance romance, it stays in the background allowing the murder mystery to take center stage. The story was suspenseful and at times dark. We witness the women’s abductions and events leading up to their deaths. Mona and Cal find themselves in danger, as do other characters. Herron does an excellent job of introducing characters from the past murders and suspects for the current murders. Everyone had plausible motive even the old sheriff. I really enjoyed the suspense and quickly became caught up in the story consuming this in just two sittings. At times, the tale story was intense and a little gritty, but Herron used suspense and her vividly descriptive writing to give the reader a sense of the scene without unnecessary gore.
Herron skillfully brings all the threads from past and present together giving us a climatic ending. If you are looking for a mystery thriller All the Beautiful Brides is sure to please.
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