4 out of 4 stars
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Dead of Spring, by Sherry Knowlton, is the third book in the Alexa Williams series of crime dramas. Alexa is a lawyer who has left the unending grind of New York City to live and work in Pennsylvania. By her own admission, trouble seems to follow wherever she goes. While working on a committee at the state capitol in Harrisburg, Alexa becomes an unwitting witness to the violent death of a state senator. At the same time, she is drawn into the world of fracking when an old friend calls her, desperate to find help for her young daughter. The young girl has contracted a rare cancer, and the parents are sure it was caused by the oil fracking industry right outside their door. As Alexa digs further into the case, she and those she loves become targets for a faceless assassin. Alexa needs to find out if the killers are trying to stop her work against the fracking industry or if she really does know more about the senator’s death than she thinks she does. As the story unfolds and the clues are laid out, it becomes obvious that one might not entirely preclude the other. Whatever the cause, Alexa needs to find answers before the next bullet finds its mark.
This is the kind of crime thriller that draws the reader in from the first chapter, grabs hold, and doesn’t let go until the last page. Although third in a series, one doesn’t have to read the first two books to become fully vested in this one. Previous cases are alluded to, but do not interrupt the flow of the story. Knowlton creates a likable character in Alexa, strong-willed and clear-sighted. The clues to the mystery are logical but not obvious. And for the first time in a long time, I was actually surprised by the surprise ending.
The story is interrupted occasionally by a parallel plotline, told as a flashback, that didn’t seem to fit in with the main story. It tells of a young couple caught in the middle of the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster in the 1970s. It was a bit distracting, because the characters and storyline didn’t seem to have anything to do with Alexa and her mystery. Knowlton does tie it all together in the end, but I felt the secondary story acted like a commercial break, interrupting the building suspense of the first. From a more positive perspective, these infrequent breaks also served to build the reader's anticipation of the rest of the story.
There were some editing mistakes, but they were few and far between. The only one that was consistent was the use of a comma every time a sentence began with and or but. For example, “But, the staffer was in no way responsible.” Otherwise, the book was exceptionally well-edited.
Anyone who loves a good crime thriller will absolutely love Dead of Spring. I would also recommend trying out Knowlton’s other books in the series: Dead of Autumn and Dead of Summer. I am looking forward to the next book, whose obvious title has got to be Dead of Winter. Although there were a few editing errors, I cannot help but give this book 4 out of 4 stars.
Dead of Spring
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