This is the third novel in the Rachel Goddard Series. Broken Places is a very
entertaining story that keeps you reading and guessing until the very end with high
suspense and great characters. Cam Taylor is trying to find someone to finance his failing
newspaper and appears to be blackmailing Ben Hern, a local artist and cartoonist. Ben has been
a longtime friend of veterinarian Rachel Goddard, and she is at Ben's house when the
confrontation between Ben and Cam takes place. Then Rachel Goddard sees Cam's car, abandoned
in the middle of the road, and hears gunshots in the woods. When she investigates, she finds
Cam's body, but no sign of the shooter. Rachel's boyfriend, Deputy Sheriff Tom Bridger, is
investigating the murder and Ben Hern is high on the list of suspects. Rachel is sure that
he is not a murderer. Then Cam's house is burned, and his murdered wife is found inside.
The Taylors and Ben's mother first came to Mason County as VISTA volunteers as part of the
1960s war on poverty, but the Taylors stayed to run the small newspaper and continue their
work with impoverished locals. They are well liked in the community, but lately Cam has been
making enemies by trying to solicit money from everyone to keep the newspaper afloat. The
romance between Rachel and Tom becomes rocky when the Taylors' daughter, who is Tom's
ex-girlfriend, returns to Mason County, and becomes a hindrance to the investigation.
When someone breaks into Rachel's house—while she and her assistant are
asleep—and turns on the gas, the suspense kicks into high gear. To add to the mystery,
Ben's mother is missing, and a neighbor reports seeing her car at the Taylor house just before
the fire started. Then her abandoned car is found in the bottom of a remote ravine, partially
covered with tree limbs.
It's hard to guess the identity of the killer and the motive until very near the end in this
story of murder, betrayal, disturbing secrets, and divided loyalties. Nothing is quite what it
seems. I like Parshall's writing style. Her characterization and plotting skills are outstanding,
and you can always count on Poisoned Pen Press for excellence in mystery.