EXCERPT: The Greer mansion was one of the original houses in Arlen Heights. It was an ugly Frankenstein of a house even when it was built – a pseudo-Victorian style of slanted roofs and spires, though the walls were of butter-yellow brick. And when Julian Greer bought it in 1950 with his newly inherited pharmaceutical fortune, he made it worse. He remodeled the lower floor to be more modern, with straight lines and dark brown wood. He also put in a bank of windows along the back wall to open up the house’s dark gloomy interior. The windows looked out to the house’s back lawn and it’s drop off to the ocean beyond.
The effect was supposed to be sweeping, breathtaking, but like most of Julian’s life, it didn’t work out as planned. The windows fogged and the view was bleak. The lawn was flat and dead, and the ocean beyond the cliff was choppy and cold. Julian had done the renovations in hopes of pleasing his new wife, Mariana. But instead the relentless view from the windows unsettled her, and she kept the curtains closed. She decorated the rest of the house dutifully but listlessly, which was a harbinger of their marriage. Something about the Greer mansion stifled laughter and killed happiness. It might sound dramatic but anyone who had lived there knew it was true.
By 1975, both Julian and Mariana were dead, Julian with his blood all over the kitchen floor, Mariana in the twisted wreck of a car crash. The house watched all of it happen, indifferent.
ABOUT ‘THE BOOK OF COLD CASES’: In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect – a rich, eccentric 23-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.
Oregon, 2017, Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases – a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes.
They meet regularly at Beth’s mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she’s not looking, and she could swear she’s seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn’t right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?
MY THOUGHTS: I love books where the house is a character in its own right. The Greer mansion certainly is that. It is a cold house, caught in a time warp, where Beth Greer, once charged with the Lady Killer murders, lives – alone.
St. James has ramped up the supernatural element in The Book of Cold Cases, maybe a little too much, but that is purely a personal opinion. The writing is certainly as compelling as usual and the characters incredibly well depicted. I could ‘see’ and ‘hear’ Beth; while not the main character, it is Beth who fascinated me and her story is revealed slowly throughout the book.
The Book of Cold Cases is a compelling page-turner, one that provides multiple murder-mysteries; an infamous recluse; a detective who may have been just a little in love with the main suspect; and a true-crime blogger with her own secrets.
The audiobook is superbly narrated by Brittany Pressley, Kirsten Potter and Robert Petkoff.
I: @simonestjames @penguinaudio
T: @simone_stjames @PRHAudio
#contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #murdermystery #paranormal
THE AUTHOR: Simone spent twenty years behind the scenes in the television business before leaving to write full-time. She lives just outside Toronto, Canada, with her husband and a spoiled rescue cat. She is addicted to sushi, rainy days, coffee, and My Favorite Murder.