“FBI agent Tara Rushing never backs down from a fight. Sent to investigate a murder in the backwoods of East Texas, she faces her toughest adversary yet, an elusive killer who strikes with shocking brutality. Local cops suspect Liam Wolfe, the battle-hardened owner of an elite bodyguard service. But as Tara digs into Liam’s private life, her doubt about his guilt grows – and so does her undeniable attraction to him. With the body count – and her uncertainty about her own instincts – rising, Tara turns to the forensic experts at the Delphi center for answers.
In Liam’s line of work, instinct can mean the difference between life and death. He trusts his gut the way he trusts his men, and he doesn’t believe either would betray him. But mounting evidence indicates the murderer has special ops training and a very personal agenda. He isn’t just taking lives; he’s sending messages. Everything Liam cares about – including Tara – is on the line, as a killer prepares to step out of the shadows and exact the ultimate revenge.”
-Synopsis from back of the book
*light spoilers ahead*
Shadow Fall takes us to the backwoods of East Texas, to a small town full of suspects, where you don’t know who might be hiding in the woods. A killer is on the loose and Tara is brought in to oversee the murder investigation which is initially suspected of being a hate crime.
The only problem is, she has difficulty asserting her authority over the tight-knit group of misogynistic law enforcement officers she has to work with. She doesn’t agree with their investigation tactics, and is routinely left out of meetings and important updates related to the case. She questions if she is being kept in the dark about certain facts on purpose, and begins to wonder why she was even put in charge in the first place.
Linking the crimes…
The first murder was high profile: a wealthy and successful public figure who was kidnapped from a jogging path and her disappearance was noticed within hours; when her body was discovered twenty miles away it was huge news. Tara starts working with the Delphi Center forensic team who find similarities in the way the victim was killed that match up with two Jane Doe cases from within the past year. Each involved a similar type of murder weapon, and the victims were recovered from the woods, miles away from where they were last seen. The major difference is that the last two cases were Jane Doe’s, which means the women went unidentified whereas now the targets have progressed to well-known public figures.
Hiding in the woods…
While Tara is out looking for evidence she is targeted and shot at, but never locates the shooter. As the investigation team starts to build a profile of the killer, they have to assume first and foremost that they are dealing with someone who knows the area and the woods very well, and they start to look at local suspects. The primary characteristics of the killer are someone who is physically strong, skilled with tactical knives, has a hatred of women, and again, knows the area very well. All of that just so happens to point to Liam Wolfe and pretty much every person he trains and works with at his security headquarters in town, making him and his men the prime suspects.
Liam becomes a valuable resource for Tara as the investigation proceeds. But he is very guarded when it comes to his company and who he works with, and she doesn’t know just how much she can trust him. Liam is aware that his team is being investigated, but he is also adamant that none of them is the killer. Is he biased, or does he know for sure?
Filling in the blanks…
Marke Wolfe, the FBI profiler from a previous Tracers book (Twisted, #3) makes an appearance in this book, primarily to help the investigation team build their profile. He is convinced that the killer will try to infiltrate the investigation somehow in order to get more attention, and urges everyone to be extremely wary of him. Tara ends up going out on multiple occasions to investigate for herself, whether for evidence or simply to gather more intel. As she gets closer to the truth, she has no idea that the killer is on her trail and already planning when he will strike next and who will be his next victim.
This was such a great read! It was full of suspense and the setting, a rainy January in the woods in a small town, gave the story a moody, spooky vibe. Tara and Liam are a great team, whether either of them is ready to admit it or not. It was also fun to see Mark Wolfe again, and the beginnings of Wolfe Security, which became a series on its own later on (there are only two books so far though!) Overall this was another excellent Tracers book.
Goodreads rating: Five stars