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Robert Dugoni returns following (2015) Her Final Breath, with the third riveting installment of Tracy Crosswhite, IN THE CLEARING a cold case of 40 years with some dark secrets of the past.
Set in Seattle, Washington Detective Tracy Crosswhite, finds herself in another adventure—from 1976 to 2016. Klickitat County Sheriff Jenny Almond (friend from the academy), asks Tracy to take a look at a file that Jenny’s late father, retired sheriff Buzz Almond, held on to for forty years.
Kanasket County Washington 1976 Kimi Kanasket did not return from the diner after work. A Native American senior in high school, some forty years ago. The body was found; however the family was not convinced her death was a suicide. A complicated case. The first case her friend Jenny’s father ever investigated as a deputy sheriff.
Like Kimi, Sarah had been about to start college when her sister disappeared. Tracy had become a homicide detective out of a strong desire to determine what had happened to her sister, and to help other young women like her.
The pathologist and the prosecutor concluded it was a suicide—jumped, a bridge, the White Salmon River—a theory due to her ex-boyfriend. However, the case was never sent to storage. The records at the office indicated they were destroyed. The detective on the case had died years earlier. Due to forensics in today’s time, Jenny felt like she owed it to her dad and Tracy takes the case. Closure for her friend and the girl’s family. No DNA
However, the town holds dark secrets. They do not want a stranger turning over stones and the more Tracy investigates the more disturbing, putting herself in danger. High school football, Everyone was shocked, she was not the kind of kid to commit suicide. She was working at the diner saving money for college. Something does not sit right. Tommy Moore, the boyfriend? Who is to blame? A coverup?
Trying to get witnesses to remember an event months or even just weeks earlier could be difficult, but the fact that Kimi had disappeared the weekend of what was apparently the most celebrated sporting event in Stoneridge’s history gave Buzz and Tracy a point of reference to ground witness’s recollections.
They want to keep the past in the past. Were there tensions between the Native Americans – racial? A forty year old secret . . someone had time to cover their secrets. Evil.
There is also a parallel narrative, back in Seattle- Tracy and her team are trying to solve the case of the murder of Tim Collins. A concerned brother, Mark who wants the wife, Angela in jail. Could the wife be covering for the son, Connor? Was it self-defense?. Kins takes the lead and Tracy concentrates on the cold case, while alternating chapters. Divorce, money, estate. No new signed will? Motive?
As Tracy gets further into the older investigation, and she thinks of the other case. Who is to blame?
The author does a good job of catching up new readers with the previous books in the series. I have read the previous two; however, a good refresher. To really get a good background of Tracy’s past, recommend reading #1 and #2. Between the two cases, the cold case was more intriguing.
From family lies, small town, dark secrets, crime, mystery, and suspense –with a psychological twist. Fans will enjoy catching up with familiar characters. As always, Dugoni does an outstanding job with dual narratives, character development, forensics, and cop procedures.
For fans of Marcia Clark, Linwood Barclay, and Joseph Finder.Looking forward to seeing what’s next for Tracy.