Aug 5 2017 1:00pm

Review: If I Should Die by Allison Brennan

If I Should Die by Allison Brennan is the third Lucy Kincaid novel, where Lucy and Sean come across a town full of secrets and must untangle a violent conspiracy before they become just another victim.

Lucy Kincaid and Sean Rogan are on their way to a romantic vacation. They stop to help friends who are getting ready to open a new resort in the Adirondacks. But someone isn’t happy about the new addition to the town of Spruce Lake and are vandalizing the property. The vandalism turns into arson, and Sean goes after the arsonist while Lucy helps put out the fire. Things do not go as planned for Sean.

He fired his gun into a nearby tree, hoping it would make the kid stop. It didn’t.

Sean went after him. Faster, he quickly caught up and was about to tackle him when the kid turned sharply right, off the road. Sean followed, picking up speed, about to tackle the kid, when he veered again to the left. Sean took two more steps forward as he turned, and the ground gave way with a startling crunch.

His foot broke through brittle wood. A sharp cracking sound cut through the forest. Sean was falling, the sensation startling him completely, though his reflexes had him reaching for something to stop his descent. Wood and dirt slipped through his fingers . He continued to fall, shouting for help even as the daylight disappeared and he plunged into darkness.

I’m going to die.

Lucy and Tim, one of the lodge owners, look for Sean. He had started out on an ATV, and they are following the GPS. Since the chase turned into a foot race, they have to track the signs until they finally reach the site where Sean fell. Tim lowers the much lighter Lucy, along with some emergency supplies, down to the floor of the old mine shaft. After Sean is lifted out, Lucy follows the tunnel in search of the source of a putrid smell. It doesn’t take long for her to find it.

She skirted the wall and shined her flashlight all around, turning in a slow circle.

Lucy bit her lip to keep from screaming.

Next to the tunnel from which she’d emerged was a horizontal cutout in the wall—about six feet wide and four feet high and lined with wood planks—possibly used for storage, possibly as a makeshift bed for a miner.

It was a stone coffin now.

The next morning, the local Deputy Sheriff allows Lucy to accompany him into the mine to retrieve the body of the dead woman she found. They enter the large room, but the body has disappeared. Deputy Weddle tries to convince Lucy that she imagined it all because she was upset about the extent of Sean’s injuries. She knows better and suspects that Weddle does too.

Sean and Lucy bring in FBI Agent Noah Armstrong and Lucy’s brother, Patrick, to help figure out what’s going on in Spruce Lake. 

It’s been my experience that all small towns have secrets: a political official with one hand in the cookie jar; someone stepping out with someone else’s spouse; an adult who will give teenagers a few bottles of beer to pass around behind the bleachers. If those were the kinds of indiscretions the citizens of Spruce Lake had to cover up, Kincaid and Rogan could be off to that romantic getaway. 

The characters in If I Should Die are wonderfully drawn. Each has strengths and weaknesses that feel as if they could be modeled after real people, and Lucy’s complement Sean’s perfectly. Lucy, with very good reason, tends to be careful, reserved, and likely to follow rules. Sean, however, is arrogant, reckless, and more than willing to bend or even break the rules—or laws. But they are starting to smooth out each other’s rougher edges.

Sean still takes chances—that is how he ended up in the mine shaft—but not when his actions could endanger Lucy. He’s even learning how to control his temper.

The villain is what a friend calls nightmare fodder. She—yes, the big bad is a woman—has no compassion. Apparently, she has no positive human emotions at all. How can you deal with someone like that? And how do you best them without losing your own soul? 

As more people get involved and the points of view change, the pace of the action builds and the tension rises until pages seem to be turning themselves. I was almost out of breath by the time all the players’ fates are known. 

Time to start the next one.

Listen to an excerpt from If I Should Die!


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Debbie Meldrum reads just about everything she can get her hands on. She was the short fiction editor for Apollo's Lyre and the Editor in Chief of the Pikes Peak Writers NewsMag. She's currently putting the finishing touches on her first novel.

Read all of Debbie Meldrum's posts for Criminal Element!

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