Desert Isle Keeper
Right Behind You
This is why I read: to discover and devour engrossing, fascinating, mesmerizing novels like Right Behind You. There is nothing quite like the experience of becoming completely absorbed and involved in a good book, and this story with its riveting characters and thrilling, non-stop plot is a very good book. You will want to clear a few hours of time to read this since putting it down will not be an option.
Once there was a little family, in a rundown trailer, with a loving brother and sister whose favorite pastime was to visit the library. Once there was a mom who sang them songs and cooked ramen noodles with eggs for supper and who smelled of cheap perfume and cigarettes. Once there was a father – who drank and did drugs and eventually took a knife to that family. When the screaming stopped and the blood ceased flying all that remained was a battered boy and a broken girl and the baseball bat that had saved their lives.
Fast forward eight years. Now there is a new family. Sharlah, the girl whose life was defined by the night her dad decided to kill them all, has become foster daughter (soon to be adopted daughter) to retired FBI Profiler Pierce Quincy and his partner, Rainie Conner. The two are police consultants now, working out of the small village of Bakersville, Orgeon and their life mostly revolves around Sharlah and her German shepherd, Luka. Until the morning shots are fired at the EZ Gas station just outside of town and it looks like a spree killer has been born. A spree killer who just happens to be the other survivor of that fateful, violent night: Sharlah’s brother, Telly.
From the opening chapters it is clear that things are not as they seem. Something about the crime feels off from the beginning and the reader knows that a great deal more has to be revealed for us to have any inkling of what the hell is really going on. And that’s when the compulsive page turning begins – right at the start, and it doesn’t end till we have the final piece of the confounding, mind-blowing puzzle.
I won’t tell you much about the plot because mysteries are all about going on the journey of discovery for yourself. What makes this a journey worth going on, though, is not just the twists and turns but the characters. Wounded, silent Sharlah might just be the perfect daughter for Raine and Quincy. She understands they have their own demons and know the fight and struggle that is the everyday life of someone haunted by their past. Her silence, her acceptance of their quirks, her interest in their jobs, helps her fit with them in a way few other teenage girls could. But she doesn’t confide in them. This isn’t just typical teen wanting their privacy stuff – this girl has a secret. It is hinted at, alluded to, and in my opinion, guessable. But still it is there and Sharlah’s past trauma and her effort to keep ‘it’ hidden have shaped her into a cunning, determined young woman. She is an unlit match in a room full of dynamite throughout the entire tale and you can’t help but wonder just what will happen when she catches fire.
As exciting as she is though, Sharlah is the boring member of our dynamic duo. Because this tale is really about Telly and the foster family he lands in. The people with whom he has been for less than a year but to whom he is tied in strange and mysterious ways. The question that has defined Telly’s whole life is fully in play as he enters this particular part of his story: Who was born the night he saved his sister with that baseball bat? A heroic protector? Or a natural born predator? As this new chapter in Telly’s life pulls him ever closer to Sharlah, that question becomes THE question for Raine and Quincy, who both want to keep their new daughter safe and want to do what is right for the girl’s last living blood relative.
This is the seventh book in the FBI Profiler/Raine-Quincy series. You don’t need to read the others to appreciate this one and that’s because the book isn’t really about Raine or Quincy. They, along with Sheriff Shelly Atkins and tracker Cal, serve as the eyes and ears, hands and legs of the reader. They discover the secrets that tell us the tale of Telly and Sharlah. For their fans, this story will let you catch up on what is happening with them right now but not much time is spent on the establishment of their characters or telling us what they have been up to since we last saw them. This book reverses, in many ways, the cops vs. villain’s focus of mystery novels. Here the characters that will command your attention are the likely villains.
Ms. Gardner’s prose is always excellent and this novel is no exception. Combine that with her addictive plotting, and compelling characters and you have a novel that grips you from the first few pages and never lets you go. If you like mysteries even just a little, you will love Right Behind You. I highly recommend it to all.