Book Talk: The Girl from Silent Lake
When I started this column several weeks ago, I wrote that I was looking for new authors while reviewing some recent works by my favorite authors. So far, I’ve been lucky finding writers who have published a debut novel or who are simply new to me. Leslie Wolfe ranks right up there with the best of the new authors. Her first book, “The Girl from Silent Lake” (2021, 352 pages), in what will surely be a new hit series, is so good that I would have finished it the day that I started it if I had not had several other pressing obligations.
FBI profiler Kay Sharp returns to her home in Mt. Chester (Northern California) to take care of her old house because her brother Jacob, the sole surviving member of her family, has been imprisoned for simply punching a guy in a bar fight. She’s uneasy in the old homestead, but we won’t know why for a while.
As she tries to settle in, the tiny resort town is rocked by the discovery of a dead body. The young victim is found wrapped in a blanket that bears the design of a local Native American group and with hair that is braided in a way that suggests a different tribe. The symbolism strikes Kay as the signature of a serial killer, despite the fact that only one corpse has been discovered.
Although Kay is not currently active with the FBI, she teams up with Detective Elliot to investigate the crime. When Sheriff Logan finds out about her intrusion into the case, he is initially outraged. However, Elliot is convinced that Kay’s experience in profiling will be helpful. And Kay seems to have an intuitive grasp on the mind of the killer.
As the bodies and potential killings pile up, it becomes clear that Kay, herself, is the ultimate target for the sadistic psychopath. Part of the fascination of the work is how Wolfe gradually unfolds the story about Kay’s past, her relationship with her brother, and the circumstances that led to her being raised by her best friend’s parents.
One subplot involves her concern about her brother’s arrest, trial, and severe sentence for a minor offense. This brings her into contact with an overly zealous District Attorney, a man who knew Kay when she was a young girl. He maintains that her brother’s stiff sentence will send a message to others to toe the line. Kay doesn’t really believe the story, but the lives of others are on the line, and she can only expend minimal energy on Jacob’s case.
Wolfe pulls all the strings together, and each becomes relevant in her process of deduction. According to the book cover, “The Girl from Silent Lake” is Book 1 in the Detective Kay Sharp series. I am anxiously awaiting the publication of Book 2 in the Kay Sharp series.
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Jim may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.