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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

The Book of Cold Cases | Review


Rating - ⭐⭐⭐


"In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect--a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.


Oregon, 2017. Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases--a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea's surprise, Beth says yes.


They meet regularly at Beth's mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she's not looking, and she could swear she's seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn't right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?"


 

The Book of Cold Cases is a standalone mystery thriller novel by Simone St. James.


While I have heard of this author's work before, such as The Sun Down Motel, I have never read anything by them before. So, this book would solidify my first impression of them, which was unfortunately an underwhelming one.


If I were to sum up this book, I would describe it as being the mystery version of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, but nowhere near as compelling. The story was very middle-of-the-line and lacked gravitas. It also had a mystery that was lackluster with barely anything thrilling insight.


Let's get into the details.


 

WRITING


There was something about the authors writing that initially bothered me. I don't know what it was specifically, but it just didn't wasn't working for me. Nonetheless, I was still able to get through the book well enough.


This story is told in dual-timeline and perspective, switching between 2017 and 1977, as well as between She and Beth. I thought that, for the most part, this duality did work to help tell the story.



PLOT


This book started on a bit of a rough patch, not only because of the authors writing style but also because the introduction features a long description of how to get to Greer mansion which was an instant mood killer. The introduction is supposed to pull you into the story and make you want to know what comes next, not turn you off from it.


Following this introduction, we immediately hit another bump in the road with some foreshadowing. The main character, Shea, is listening to a mystery thriller book where a woman is in danger, the characters are lying, and everything is not quite as it seemed. As soon as this was said, I knew exactly that it was setting up exactly what this book was going to be, and I didn't particularly like that. While foreshadowing can be a useful writing tool if used well, this did nothing but spoil the rest of the book (minus the details).


Moving on though, the main issue I had with this book was that it didn't commit. There were several plotlines that could have been interesting not only if they were integrated better into the main storyline, but also if the author leaned more into them. I am talking about the paranormal occurrences that are occurring at Greer house as well as Shea's past as Girl A. The author didn't dig deep enough and fully flesh out these plotlines, so they ended up feeling a little bit loose which brought down the overall story.


After a story that felt underdeveloped, we got to the end of the book only to have an unsatisfying conclusion. There were a lot of open ends and questions that weren't answered.



CHARACTERS


We primarily follow two characters - Shea and Beth. Shea, in her spare time, runs a true-crime blog called Book of Cold Cases. She ends up running into and subsequently interviewing Beth, the suspect of a series of murders in the 70s. I don't have much to in this section other than that I didn't care much for these characters as they didn't end up standing out much.



CONCLUDING THOUGHTS


Despite my more negative views on this book, I don't think that this was a bad book. It was simply just an uninteresting and forgettable one that did not succeed at capturing my attention. I also think that, with the way the book was formatted around a true-crime blog, this might have worked better as a series.

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