Grave Lies - a thriller with a touch of paranormal
Grave Lies #1 by A.N. Willis
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Publish date: July 26, 2022, 320 pages
Thanks to #BookSirens for the advance copy of this novel - the opinions are my own.
Secrets abound in the small Wyoming town of Coldwater. Ghostly apparitions of a murdered couple haunt the cabin where they were found. There is a questionable 'church' that demands its followers keep to the "Path" of light and avoid the darkness. A psychic and medium arrive to help with the ghosts and get caught up in the mystery of the cold case murder.
As a young girl, FBI agent Heather sees the two ghosts for the first time. As she grew up and joined the FBI, the case stayed with her and she never gave up trying to identify the bodies. Penny and Zandra are the two paranormal 'experts' that come to town to try to help Heather. These three women make progress on the cold case which leads to even more questions that swirl around the Church and its slimy leader who apparently wanted to impregnate every young woman in his commune/cult/community.
As the story progresses and we learn more about the secretive church and members and the tangled web of paternity, the investigation is hampered by a severe winter snow storm. By this point, the suspense and tension has ratcheted up and I'm flying through the pages for the resolution.
I absolutely love the addition of the paranormal aspect - both the ghosts and the two women partners of the Mercury Group that come to send the ghosts on their way, Penny and Zander. I get a feeling that the ongoing part of this series will be them being sent around the country to help various people with the ghostly sightings - and of course whatever mystery surrounds their death. I'm totally ready.
I found all the characters well filled in and believable. FBI agent Heather's health issues made for a unnecessary sideline story but maybe were introduced to explain why she isn't in future books. Penny and Zander are caring, interesting people but we don't learn much about their back stories except a few vague references to growing up "different" and how difficult it is to make friends when you see ghosts or can read minds. I'm assuming we'll learn more and more in future stories.
Overall I found the mystery engaging, the characters interesting and the small town setting appropriately secretive and spooky. That sort of small town where there are so many secrets and nobody wants to talk about the town history. A good storm always heightens the tension and it did so here perfectly. A strong beginning to a series I'm going to be sure and follow!