Book Review: Edge of Dusk by Colleen Coble
When Annie Pederson was nine years old, her little sister Laura was snatched away from her and she herself left for dead in the waters of Lake Superior, near their hometown in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP.) In the twenty-four years since, she’s blamed herself for her sister’s abduction, and chased every lead she could find in a futile effort to solve the crime:
Would she ever stop searching for her sister? She couldn’t see any way that would happen. Every time she met a stranger, she’d be looking for a blue-eyed blonde with long legs. She’d be listening for a familiar cadence in the voice or a mannerism that stopped Annie in her tracks. But after all these years, even if she found Laura, would she recognize her or would she walk right past?
Wouldn’t her soul instantly know her little sister or was that a fantasy she’d indulged?
Now Annie is grown up, with an eight year-old daughter of her own, Kylie. While Annie’s a full-time law enforcement ranger, she’s also in charge of the running and upkeep of the Tremolo Marina and Cabin Resort, a responsibility that’s become daunting since the boating accident that claimed the lives of her husband and parents two years prior. With summer underway, juggling all the demands on her time is getting tricky. Fortunately, she’s due for some vacation time from her day job, which she hopes will give her the opportunity to catch up on some necessary cleaning and maintenance at the resort. She also finds a willing new employee in Taylor Moore—a nursing aide who hadn’t expected her previous job taking care of the elderly to affect her so personally after one of the residents at her nursing home passed away. Taylor and Kylie immediately strike up a rapport, leaving Annie free to focus on her business.
Alas, it’s while showing one of her more remote cabins that Annie makes a horrifying discovery:
There was an odd smell she couldn’t quite put her finger on. Maybe like something had died in here and left the faint trace of decay. She reached up to yank on the string to turn on the light. The walk-in closet had been empty the last time she’d been in here, and she blinked at the heap of clothing in the back corner.
Wait. That was more than clothing. She caught a glimpse of hair. A body. No, two bodies. All piled in a heap as though someone had dropped them here.
The bodies are quickly identified as the remains of two teenagers who disappeared from the area nine years ago. Back then, the prime suspect in their disappearance was Annie’s ex-fiance, Jon Dunstan, who left town shortly after he and Annie broke up. He had picked up the hitchhiking girls and swore he dropped them off at a popular overlook, but no one had seen any sign of them since.
And now he’s back in town, too. Having established a successful orthopedic practice in Rochester, Minnesota, he’s returned to take care of his dad who’s recently suffered a stroke. Jon doesn’t really want to spend too much time in Rock Harbor but needs to fix up his family’s lake cottage in advance of selling it. What he doesn’t count on is the lure of his childhood home—and of his beautiful ex—enticing him to stay.
Of course, not everybody is happy that he’s returned. While Annie has mixed feelings about seeing him again, other townsfolk are more hostile, even going so far as to spray paint graffiti on his house, accusing him of murder. Annie doesn’t really believe that her ex killed those girls, but what will she have to risk in order to prove it? As a law enforcement officer, she’s used to putting her life on the line, but is she willing to risk her heart once more?
This Christian romantic suspense novel packs a lot of plot into its pages, wrapping up only two of its biggest plot lines while leaving plenty of material for a sequel. Some of the plot twists were excellently paced surprises, though others were clunkier. I think what surprised me most about this book was the fact that, for all the trauma Annie and Kylie suffered, there was no evidence of their seeking or receiving pastoral care despite being religious churchgoers. Perhaps I’m just unfamiliar with the particular faith tradition displayed in this novel.
Fans of Colleen Coble’s works will welcome this brand new series set in the same world as her previous thrillers. Her love for the UP is palpable, and I really liked learning about the Finnish influences on the area. Ms. Coble is a great ambassador for the UP’s natural beauty and cuisine, and speaks knowledgeably and at length on celiac disease, including recommendations at the end of the book that are super helpful for anyone wanting a list of gluten-free brands.