I confess, I am a Gregg Olsen addict. I love his style, his characters, and the beauty of his complex plots. “The Girl in the Woods”, the first of the Waterman & Stark Thrillers, sets the tone for the crime solving duo in future books. I stumbled upon these two ladies in “Closer Than Blood” and immediately set my sights on this first “official” offering in the series featuring Birdy Waterman and Kendall Stark. I am not disappointed. In fact I am so delighted I have pre-ordered the next book in this series.
What begins as the mysterious discovery of a foot wearing pink nail polish in the Pacific Northwest’s Banner Forest quickly escalates into so much more. As Kendall Stark, the sheriff’s detective, and Birdy Waterman, the local pathologist, begin their investigation things seem odd but not as odd as they become. It’s only when Tess Moreau, the town of Kitsap’s notorious hoarder, reports her teen daughter Darby as missing that things begin to heat up. From that point on the story roars forward as new characters are introduced and new crimes uncovered. While it is apparent the two biggest murders, that of Darby Moreau and local man Ted Roberts, are somehow related, it takes intense investigative skills to put it all together.
The mystery of who killed Ted Roberts is certainly the gripping center of the story. Married to Jennifer and step father to Ruby and Micah, he appears mostly as a corpse. But what a corpse he is! His death unravels a plethora of crimes.
Interwoven throughout are hints at the personal histories of both Birdy and Kendall. While they seem inconsequential they are vital to the development of these fascinating women. Thrown together as investigators due to changes within their departments they form an analytical team, each bringing their skills into play as needed.
The seemingly insignificant character of Elan, Birdy’s nephew who appears early in the story, proves to be quite a pivotal addition to the cast.
The unexpected twists and turns are key to Olsen’s ability to captivate his readers. Just when I thought I had the answers, knew who was doing what, I would get a surprise that made my head spin.
There are some very minor editing issues in the book but they in no way affected my ability to enjoy the story. As I said from the beginning, I am a Gregg Olsen addict. I have no desire to be cured as I eagerly await my next fix of Olsen fiction.