A young girl murdered. A town with a dark secret.
A young girl, Kasey, is murdered in the woods of northern New York, a strange symbol carved into her stomach. Investigator Reed Raleigh, Major Crimes, is tasked with finding the killer.
Reed has his own troubles. He’s in therapy, divorced, estranged from his son. But he desperately needs to solve this case – his own stepdaughter vanished when she was a teenager and Reed knows all about the agony of having no closure. No way is he letting Kasey’s mother go through that.
But as Reed begins to dig, the case grows ever more complex. Why is Kasey’s boyfriend acting so strangely? And why is her mother lying to the police?
As evidence of Kasey’s bizarre secret life starts to emerge, Reed realises this case isn’t just about a dead girl. There’s something much bigger at play in this small rural town, a decades old secret that needs to be protected. At any cost.
This book was nothing like I expected. It started out as the usual police procedural – a teenage girl turns up dead with a strange symbol carved into her stomach. She’s been strangled. Not much else to go on. A jaded cop with a troubled background, divorced, in therapy, hardly ever sees his teenage son. His step-daughter vanished when she was a child – her body never recovered.
But then everything changed. And boy did it change. Suddenly we have two dramatic suicides, a town full of secrets, similar cases going back 50 years and Reed in the middle trying work out the connections. Almost everyone is a suspect. Or is that because they are all guilty? Is it about underage sex? Or drugs? Or pseudo-religious control? This is small town America at its worst and worse than its worst. And if you feel you need to suspend disbelief, then take a look at old newspaper clippings. This kind of thing really did happen and still does. It even happens in the UK. Scientology has around ten locations here.
But we are not just talking about David Koresh or Jim Jones or L Ron Hubbard – the big players who still make the national and international news to this day. Children of God – which became Family International in 2004 – not only permitted sex with children but actually encouraged it, believing it was ‘a divine right’. It still exists today but without the underage sex. Others include the Sullivanians and Heaven’s Gate. Most of these cults originated in the 1950s though I have no idea why that is.
I can’t say too much more or I will give away the plot and that would spoil things. Suffice to say that once Reed and his colleagues start to dig, what they discover is beyond anything they could have imagined.
This book is so well written and exciting that I read the whole thing in three sittings. I love this kind of thing. I am fascinated by cults and how people get drawn in. Rough Country explores these themes as well as being a traditional who-dunnit. Brilliant stuff.
Many thanks to @damppebbles for inviting me to be part of #damppebblesblogtours and to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
T.J. Brearton’s books have reached half a million readers around the world and have topped the Amazon charts in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. A graduate of the New York Film Academy in Manhattan, Brearton first worked in film before focusing on novels. His books are visually descriptive with sharp dialogue and underdog heroes. When not writing, Brearton does whatever his wife and three children tell him to do. They live happily in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. Yes, there are bears in the Adirondacks. But it’s really quite beautiful when you’re not running for your life.
T.J. is the author of Into Darkness, Road to Mercy and other crime thrillers. Rough Country will be his third novel published with Inkubator Books.