Guilt by Association / by Heather Day Gilbert. (A Murder in the Mountains, 3) 4.29.2019

WoodHaven Press ISBN 9780997827927

Adult Rating: 4

Tess Spencer has faced her share of dangers solving crimes, but nothing prepares her for finding a dead teenager outside her mother’s trailer. Suddenly, the police are investigating the trailer park, Tess’s mother has disappeared, and her past as a drug-dealer makes her a prime suspect. Tess must face suspicion from locals who remember her mother, the drug world of her childhood hometown, and the neglect and pain of her past as she looks for the murderer.

Heather Day Gilbert creates an interesting contrast in this book, combining suspense and dark themes with a funny, female narrator who sees the harsh reality of drug addiction but also notices little things like nice clothes and good cooking. Since the story deals with broken families, there are references to profanity, drug addiction, and slight violence, but the author keeps much of the details offscreen or summarizes what happened instead of giving explicit details. Various characters find or point to redemptive ideas as the story goes along, and while the ending resolves things a little too quickly, the book as a whole gives an honest but hopeful look at surviving dark situations.

G. Connor Salter, CLJ