Sarah Gladstone knew a bad storm was coming and so she goes to stay with her mother in the small town of Sunbury. The storm turned out to be worse than expected and the town is cut off from the outside world with floods, downed trees, no electricity or cell towers. This is key because during the clean up, they learn that someone has broken into the priest’s home, tossed the place and the priest is nowhere to be found. However, journals–tons of them are found (hidden), containing notes on all of the sins of his parishioners. It’s clear that the priest wasn’t collecting these “sins” for any duplicitous reasons but instead struggles with keeping specific heinous crimes secret. Sarah’s only visiting, but it turns out, she’s also the only police officer in the town.
Newer to the force (she joined two years prior), she struggles with how to deal with police protocol in this situation. Once she finds the body she becomes the forensic examiner, the chief (as she does a mini press conference), the detective (as she attempts to interview the townspeople to see who may have a motive). Could the murderer be John, the town drunk whose wife left him, taking his child with her? He does seem overeager to read the journals to see what his wife said about him. Could it be Suzanne, the woman whose secrets are splayed out within the pages of the priest’s journals? Sean? The hothead, whose brother was molested years prior? Tom, the town’s patriarch who seems to rube Sarah the wrong way because she believes he’s abusing his elderly wife? Time’s running out, tensions are running high as Sunbury continues to be isolated from the rest of the world. If the killer wants to get away with his/her crime, he/she will have to act fast and take out Officer Gladstone–or she must find out the killer quickly.
The set up is really good. I liked the isolated setting. I enjoyed the fact that Sarah Gladstone is a strong female character but that she also struggles in her newness. She’s resourceful and does a really good job of improvising while she doesn’t exactly know what she should be doing. When she finally does get some back up, it was annoying that she had to take the backseat to her superior (male), and gets chastised for her actions. Honestly, I have no idea what she was supposed to do other than what she did do. Ultimately though, Gladstone follows her instinct and it pays off. On the flip side, it really wasn’t as tense as the summary makes it seem. The bad guy is the bad guy who you think it is, there’s a weird aside where there’s another bad guy but for a different reason unrelated to this whole thing and Sarah gets reamed out for things beyond her control but it actually sets up her future (and the book series) at the end.
All in all, it was a very short mystery that was more meh than good, but certainly not awful. 2.5 out of 3.