Canyon Crime Scene
Canyon Crime Scene is a 2022 release, so it’s only been sitting on the TBR stack for about five-six months, but if you follow my Twitter feed, you know how quickly my Harlequin habit stacks up. This one had some plot twists that tremendously didn’t work for me, so that dimmed my enjoyment of what was otherwise a fairly solid mystery. Also, while it’s somewhat cop-adjacent, it doesn’t feature police or special agent leads, so I liked that.
Cade Larson has come back to Los Angeles because his sister is missing. While his sister has had a troubled past, Cade loves her and he wants to make sure she is safe. His high school ex-girlfriend, Lori Del Valle, now works as a fingerprint analyst at the LAPD, so Cade reaches out to her for help. He thinks (probably correctly) that the detectives see his sister as just another drug user, but he knows she has been clean and he wants her disappearance to be taken seriously.
Lori is believably less than thrilled to see Cade turn up. Not only is Lori Latinx while Cade is white, but she also comes from a working-class home while Cade’s family owned a construction business and has always run in prominent circles. The manner in which their relationship ended in high school was traumatic for Lori at the time, and she doesn’t see him as someone she needs back in her life. As the book unfolds, we will see just why this high-school breakup was so upsetting, and without throwing in spoilers, I have to admit that while I empathized with Lori, I also disliked how both of the leads handled these events at various points. They both could benefit from lessons on boundaries and honesty with a partner.
The mystery is definitely the stronger part of this book. I enjoyed the suspense plotting in this novel quite a bit. Cade has access to his sister’s home and since the detectives don’t seem to be taking her case very seriously, he and Lori take a look around. They find a fingerprint tying her case to another disappearance, which they share with detectives. However, they also find a business card for a rather unusual sounding rehab facility.
Much of the story centers on this mysterious, New Agey rehab center. If this book was a movie, I’d expect “Hotel California” to be on the soundtrack somewhere. Lori is able to sneak into this all-women’s facility and even if some of the plot twists feel a tad unbelievable, it’s still entertaining reading. Lori’s clearly not doing everything by the book, but there’s at least some logic to how she does things, so I could the procedures slide a little.
While I found the mystery entertaining, the romance felt a little less sure-footed. Given the intensity of their prior relationship, I could believe the almost immediate chemistry between Cade and Lori. However, these two at various points in the story both keep secrets from each other that needed to be dealt with. Things move at warp speed between them and it felt like some of their issues got brushed aside rather than resolved meaningfully.
And speaking of abrupt resolution, the book also features Lori’s reasons for going into fingerprint analysis as a plot point. Her dedication to her work comes from what she saw as her brother’s unjust brush with the law. That old mystery got wrapped up rather quickly as well. Canyon Crime Scene features an interesting mystery that I enjoyed, but the characters and their relationship had a few too many rough patches for me to truly love it.
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I enjoy spending as much time as I can between the covers of a book, traveling through time and around the world. When I'm not having adventures with fictional characters, I'm an attorney in Virginia and I love just hanging out with my husband, little man, and the cat who rules our house.