Updated: Mar 30, 2022
By Simone St. James
A Suspenseful and Atmospheric Psychological Murder Mystery
In 2017 Shea Collins is a 29-year-old receptionist in a doctor’s office by day, but by night she is a true-crime blogger at The Book of Cold Cases. It’s a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a nine-year-old child, which still haunts her today. There is one particular case that Shea blogs about more than any other because it transpired in her hometown.
In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer murders: two men, seemingly randomly, are murdered with the same gun. Beth Greer, a rich, beautiful, 23-year-old red-haired woman, was seen fleeing one of the crimes. She soon became the most famous suspect in America, but she was ultimately acquitted. Since her acquittal, Beth has isolated herself in her pseudo-Victorian mansion, known to locals as The Greer House, in the city’s wealthiest neighborhood. The locals still talk about her.
When Shea meets Beth Greer by chance, she asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes. They meet at Beth‘s mansion, but Shea is petrified by the unexplainable noises and things that happen at the house while she is there. There was just “something about the Greer House that stifled laughter and killed happiness.” But for Shea, learning the truth about this cold case trumps the haunted mansion vibes. She is determined to do what it takes to solve the case, even if it kills her.
“Being a girl is the best,” she said, “because no one ever believes you’ll do something bad. People think you’ll do nothing, which means you can do anything. I’ll show you. “
The Book of Cold Cases is a suspenseful and atmospheric murder mystery. Author Simone St James expertly tells a sinister tale that may haunt your sleep for days to come. The tension in that house is unrelenting, and the writing will give you chill bumps. St. James creatively weaves the past and the present and alternates the point of view between Beth and Shea. St, Jame’s imagery, tone, pacing, and characters are perfect.
Shea and Beth’s characters are delightfully compelling. Both have faced adversity in the past, have isolated themselves, and still are dealing with their issues. But both are also resilient and determined to improve their situation. All characters in the book are deliciously well-developed and delightfully intriguing.
St. James has plenty of tricks up her sleeve for this immensely satisfying book. She is a Canadian author of history, historical fiction, and romance novels. She also published The Sun Down Motel (2020) and The Broken Girls (2018). She lives outside of Toronto with her husband and spoiled cat.
Thanks to Berkley and Netgalley for an advance reading copy of this book. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
“Are you bitter or are you sweet?”
Published March 15, 2022