Silent Rain by Karin Salvalaggio is the 4th book in the Macy Greeley Mystery series (available May 9, 2017).
London-based, American-bred Karin Salvalaggio returns with her fourth crime novel, Silent Rain, which reunites series protagonist Macy Greeley, a Montana police detective, and survivor Grace Adams (now going by the surname Larson) for the first time since the author’s 2014 debut, Bone Dust White.
Silent Rain opens on Halloween night. Grace, dressed up like Stephen King’s Carrie—post prom horror show (though nobody recognizes her)—is commemorating the occasion with friends at the K-Bar’s annual themed costume party. While she finds herself battling a throng of overzealous Elvis lookalikes with wandering hands, it’s the reappearance of her stalker—just the most recent in an endless string of mostly harmless gawkers who have discovered her identity—that impels her to make a hasty getaway under cover of darkness. Emboldened by booze and bravado, Grace stumbles through the suburban streets of Bolton, eventually blacking out on somebody’s lawn. An hour later, her stupor is shattered by the sound of sirens piercing the quiet.
Grace follows the commotion only to find herself standing outside the smoldering remains of Peter Granger’s house. Though Granger—a popular writing instructor—is known to the world as a bestselling novelist, Grace has come to see him as a manipulative opportunist who betrayed her trust in the hopes of turning her life story into a blockbuster book. Authorities strongly suspect that his is one of two dead bodies found within the home (identification pends testing of the remains), and they quickly come to believe that the blaze may have been the result of arson rather than an accident.
Enter detective Macy Greeley, who has been called in from out of town to lead the investigation. Grace is left reeling by Greeley’s reemergence and the realization that she has both a motive for murder and no verifiable alibi.
Greeley—a single parent trying to balance motherhood and dating with the demands of a job that often takes her away from home—remains protective of Grace while beholden to the evidence at hand. Fortunately, she and her temporary partner, the young but resilient Alisa Montgomery, discover that Peter Granger and his artist wife, Hannah (who may or may not be the second victim), aren’t lacking for enemies; indeed, a series of personal and professional misdeeds have quietly scandalized the couple, leaving behind a lengthy list of suspects that includes students and staff as well as friends and lovers. With hard-won wisdom and maternal instincts that often cause her head and heart to be at conflict, Greeley relies on her conscience to act as a compass—even when following it leads her straight into danger.
There are several standout elements here. First is the strength of the book’s duel protagonists, who represent two of the most believably complex characters in contemporary fiction; they’re also among the most empathic. With the addition of Alisa, you’ve got a trifecta of dynamic females who build one another up rather than tearing each other down.
Further, the author brilliantly captures the nuances of small-town life and the pervasive fear that comes with unexpected violence, which results in a palpable sense of tension throughout the narrative. Additionally, Salvalaggio—who dedicates the book “To that man who dismissed my chances as a writer and that friend who dismissed him as a chancer”—includes insights about the process and politics of publishing that are sure to tantalize casual readers and industry insiders alike.
Ultimately, Silent Rain achieves its greatness subtly, and yet the overall impact reverberates long after the last page has been turned. Karin Salvalaggio is truly a rising talent, and this one—which satisfies entirely as a standalone despite being a series entry—will leave you wanting to read everything she’s already written (if you haven’t) and anticipating all that’s left to come.
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John Valeri wrote the popular Hartford Books Examiner column for Examiner.com from 2009 – 2016. He can be found online at www.johnbvaleri.com and is featured in the Halloween-themed anthology Tricks and Treats, now available from Books & Boos Press.