HIDDEN PIECES by Mary Keliikoa
SERIES: Misty Pines Mystery #1
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense (General Market)
PUBLISHER: Level Best Books
RELEASE DATE: October 25, 2022
Sheriff Jax Turner is staring down the barrel of his broken past. On the brink of ending it all, he feels like a failure following his daughter’s tragic passing and his subsequent divorce. But when a schoolgirl vanishes and her backpack is found in a sex offender’s backseat, the weary lawman drags himself into action and vows to nail one last sociopath.
Shocked to discover the teen’s aunt had lost her life in an abduction years prior, the devastating outcome that he’s taken personally, Jax believes the killer has returned with a vengeance. But as the desperate cop frantically hunts down a mysterious relative in search of a suspect, the girl’s time keeps ticking away…
Can the jaded sheriff take down the culprit in time to bring the young girl home alive?
Sheriff Jax Turner is a haunted man. He’s haunted by an unsolved murder from many years ago, and he’s haunted by the more recent death of his little daughter from cancer. In fact, when first we meet the sheriff of this small coastal town in Oregon, he is about ready to kill himself. As he’s trying to talk himself into (or out of) it, he gets an urgent message from dispatch – Code Ten-Fifty-Four, a missing child. Nobody else is around to answer the call so it falls to him. Killing himself will have to wait.
Sounds intense? Oh yes. There’s a lot of brokenness in this story, a lot of broken characters. From the missing child’s parents, her stepmother, and her neighbors to the already-mentioned suicidal sheriff, they all have layers they would rather not air out in the open. Sifting through these psychologically complex issues makes the case of the missing girl even more complicated, which means readers are in for a twisty ride with some stunning surprises. Among those ‘well that took a turn’ moments is the fact that several of the characters I liked at the beginning I disliked by the end … and vice versa. And then sometimes vice versa again lol. Needless to say, my theories and preferences tumbled around in every which direction for the majority of this read. And while I still can’t decide whether I like how it ended up or not, I absolutely admire the author’s ability to write a story that took me on such a mental ride.
Bottom Line: Hidden Pieces by Mary Keliikoa is part police procedural, part cold case mystery, and part psychological suspense. The author is skilled at making the reader suspicious of just about everyone, unsure who to trust, and braced for the next surprising twist. There is a revolving door of likable characters in this novel, amid a town full of broken people, but that just adds to the psychological element of the book and keeps you on edge & waiting for the other shoe to drop. Even though I have some mixed feelings about the contents in general, overall it’s well-plotted and riveting.
Reviewer’s Note: Readers of this blog may want to be aware that this book contains a moderate amount of stronger cursing as well as several profanities. There are also some possible triggers for readers who have sensitivity to discussions of suicidal thoughts, child death, and mental health issues.
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / enjoyed it
Mary Keliikoa is the author of Hidden Pieces and the upcoming Deadly Tides in the Misty Pines mystery series, the PI Kelly Pruett mystery series which includes the Shamus, Lefty, Agatha and Anthony nominated Derailed for best debut, and the upcoming Don’t Ask, Don’t Follow out Summer of 2024. Her short stories have appeared in Woman’s World and in the anthology Peace, Love and Crime.
A Pacific NW native, she admits to being that person who gets excited when called for jury duty. When not in Washington, you can find Mary with toes in the sand on a Hawaiian beach. But even under the palm trees and blazing sun, she’s plotting her next murder—novel that is.
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