Trace of Evil (Natalie Lockhart #1) by Alice Blanchard


“Natalie Lockhart is a rookie detective in Burning Lake, New York, an isolated town known for its dark past. Tasked with uncovering the whereabouts of nine missing transients who have disappeared over the years, Natalie wrestles with the town’s troubled history – and the scars left by her sister’s unsolved murder years ago.

Then Daisy Buckner, a beloved schoolteacher, is found dead on her kitchen floor, and a suspect immediately comes to mind. But it’s not that simple. The suspect is in a coma, collapsed only hours after the teacher’s death, and it turns out Daisy had secrets of her own. Natalie knows there is more to the case, but as the investigation deepens, even she cannot predict the far-reaching consequences – for the victim, for the missing of Burning Lake, and for herself.”

-Synopsis from Goodreads


Cover of Trace of Evil by Alice Blanchard
Cove image from Goodreads

A lot of people have recommended this book to me, both here and on Instagram. I was excited to finally read it because I’ve only heard good things.

*spoilers ahead*

The setting of this book played a huge role in the story. Burning Lake, New York, while fictional, seemed very realistic. It’s a town with New England vibes. Think: woods, fog, rain, and a history linked to witchcraft, similar to what happened in Salem, MA. I was on board with all of this (even though I tend to not care for fictional retellings of the Salem witch trials).

I liked Natalie right away. She’s the only female detective at the Burning Lake Police Department, she’s smart and good at her job, etc. We learn about her past throughout the book in bits and pieces. More often than not, those snippets occur in between dialogue which made it slightly hard for me to find the connection between the memory and the conversation until I was more used to the writing style.

Around 150 pages in, the story slowed down a little. Natalie does a lot of interviews that I didn’t see the purpose of right away, so I wasn’t sure whether they were important or not. Basically, there are a lot of suspects and we definitely see Natalie covering all of her bases with the investigation.

There were a lot of stories within this book, for example we have the Natalie as a newbie detective angle, the high school kids as suspects of a serious crime angle, the disturbing past between Natalie’s siblings and their friends, the crow-dude serial killer, the murdered teacher, and the town itself being ridden by amateur witchcraft and petty crime.

Each of those plot lines could have formed its own book in this series, so that made me very curious about the next two books and what they could possibly encompass. I would have eaten them up!

Will I read the subsequent Natalie Lockhart books? Yes. I am really interested in the town of Burning Lake and at this point, I really like Natalie’s character and am curious to see what she does next. I’m eager to read the next book, and then book three when it comes out later this year!

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