The Wicked Hour (Natalie Lockhart #2) by Alice Blanchard

Synopsis

“The day after Burning Lake’s notorious debauched Halloween celebration, Detective Natalie Lockhart uncovers a heartbreaking scene – a young woman, dead and lying in a dumpster. There’s no clue to who she is, except for a mystifying tattoo on her arm and a callus underneath her chin. She’s not from around here. No one knows who she is. As Natalie retraces the young woman’s steps leading up to her death, she uncovers a deeper, darker horror – a string of murders and disappearances, seemingly unconnected, that may have ties to each other and may explain the abrupt disappearance of her best friend years ago. As she digs deeper within the mind of the hunter, Natalie Finds a darkness she could never have imagined. And as she draws closer to the truth, the killer is weaving a trap for her that may prove inescapable.”

-Synopsis from inside front cover

Review

Cover of The Wicked Hour by Alice Blanchard
Cover image from StoryGraph

The Wicked Hour is an incredible follow up to Trace of Evil which I read earlier this year. Since several months had passed since reading the first book, I decided to read it again just before beginning the second book. I’m so glad I made that decision because there was a lot of backstory from Natalie’s life that I needed a refresher on in order to appreciate some moments in this book. There is a lot of buildup with Natalie’s past so this is definitely a series in which you have to read the first book first.

The fictional town of Burning Lake, New York comes alive on the page. I often forget that it isn’t a real town because it’s so fully formed and so well-described. The story opens on Halloween Eve, with Natalie patrolling the annual Burning Lake Halloween festivities undercover for the Burning Lake Police Department. Some of her relationships remain fractured after what happened in the last book, and she is actively struggling with her grief of losing loved ones not so long ago.

“The truth was that grief was never quite done with you. It returned whenever you remembered even the smallest details. Actually, small details were what grief was composed of.”

from The Wicked Hour by Alice Blanchard

I don’t want to give away too much of the story, however Natalie discovers a dead body in a dumpster and that sets off the rest of the story. She tries to retrace the final days of the victim by interviewing her family, those who may have been in contact with her on the day of her death, and anyone who may have wanted to hurt her or had a grudge against her.

I thought there were a lot of interesting characters in this book, such as Russ Swinton and Hunter Rose. For a while there is one suspect who seems extremely guilty and as much as I wanted to believe it was him, I kept thinking there had to be something I was missing. There were plenty of clues and red herrings to keep me guessing until the very end.

The final chapter, including the epilogue, blew me away. I think I was holding my breath that entire time because I had no idea what would happen. The epilogue, well, let’s just say as eager as I was for book three, I am even more eager now to find out what happens next!

I wish there had been a little more closure about one of the characters, but I also really hope that Natalie isn’t going to leave BLPD as is hinted at in the book three synopsis. I guess we will find out in a few weeks when the third book, The Witching Tree, comes out!

I would recommend this book if you enjoy mysteries, especially those set in small towns.

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