by Christina Dodd is a sprint read, a fast-paced page-turner.
Those who liked her Virtue Falls novels will love this first
book of a new series. It does not have the paranormal element
or much romance, but the mystery is action-packed.
The novella is an introduction to the book, explaining Kellen’s
time in Afghanistan, how she sustained the injury for a medical
discharge, and how she recovered. In addition, the novella
storyline introduces readers to the Monument Men that searched
for artifacts taken by the Nazis. Kellen works with General
Lawrence Slater in trying to find some famous paintings hidden
in a German cave. This leads into the book plot and explains
some of Kellen’s backstory.
Dodd introduced this special organization in the short-story,
but it plays a significant role in the book. “I wrote
about this because what they did was fascinating. It was an
organization that was actually part of the Army during WWII.
They were going around trying to save European art. I believe
they were de-commissioned in 1946. I just brought them back
through the character Nils Brooks. The terrorists are really
looting and selling artifacts on the black market to fund
their causes. Maybe the government will get an idea from this
In the novel, there are two mysteries the main character,
Kellen, is trying to solve: what happened during an earlier
year of her life, after she was shot in the head, losing her
memory for that period of time, and in current time, trying
to discover who killed a woman found buried without her hands.
Hired as an assistant manager of a remote vacation resort,
Yearning Sands, she uses her former military skills to find
the culprits. The intenseness of the backstory is very well
developed through Kellen’s nightmares and flashbacks.
This book definitely gives a shout out to veterans. It shows
how Cecilia Lykke a helpless and afraid abused wife uses her
cousin’s name, Kellen Adams, to join the Army, becoming
a tough and skilled military officer. Readers will understand
through Cecilia’s eyes how she became a victim, frozen
and unable to escape her predicament until her husband dies
in a fire. Searching for family and a home Cecilia, now Kellen,
finds it with her comrade in arms. Never forgetting this new
family, after accepting the position at the resort, she hires
those she served with knowing they are capable, resourceful,
and able to use the skills learnt.
The Washington setting becomes a character as the darkness
spreads over the resort during the month of January. Located
at the edges of the Pacific coast, it can be attractive in
fair weather, but dangerous during the winter months with
cold, windblown, and stormy foggy days/nights. It adds to
the atmosphere of the story creating a dark and scary feeling.
It appears that coastal towns are fair game for this author.
“: I want to get to a point where I own the Washington
coast and every little town is mine with murders going on
all the time. There are a lot of eccentric people who live
here so I have a lot to go on. I wanted to make them tourist
towns because it will be plausible for all these murders with
people constantly wandering in and out. What makes it more
suspenseful is that everything here is affected by the weather,
with extreme change from light to dark, during the winter
months with cold, windblown, and stormy foggy days/nights.
The weather is not an, ‘in passing conversation piece,’
but is actually an issue. The geography also plays into the
plot with the Pacific Ocean, the mountains, and the desert.
I have lived in many states including Texas, California, and
Idaho. For me, this is the most expressive state.”
This “who done it” has a list that can go on forever.
Kellen is unsure whom to trust. This includes Nils Brooks
who impersonates a mild-mannered author with black rimmed
glasses that turns out to be a well-toned combat ready government
official working for the MFAA, a revised agency that searches
for smugglers who want to sell artifacts to fund terrorist
organizations. This appears to be a shout out to Superman
considering it is the 80thAnniversary where he was first introduced
in an action comic book.
Smugglers, murder, and loss of memory are intertwined to make
this a gripping story. With plenty of intriguing characters
and twists and turns, including a major surprise twist at
the book’s ending, readers will be left craving for