In the second installment in her Santa Barbara Suspense Series (following 2018's What She Gave Away), author Catharine Riggs gives us two compelling protagonists with alternating, interlocking narratives. The first is the repressed, tightly wound Ruth Mosby, VP of operations at Serenity Acres, an elder care facility in the throes of great change under new ownership. The second is her coworker and neighbor, Zach Richards, a retired police detective now working as a security guard at Serenity. After noting a string of suspicious deaths among the indigent population at the home, the two find themselves investigating what might be a deadly, economically motivated conspiracy among their colleagues. The pair must determine whether those deaths are coincidental, or if they have a more sinister explanation, even as their personal lives begin to crumble due to the revelation of past indiscretions.
Riggs' latest is a well-wrought mix of mystery and melodrama, featuring two damaged souls whose greatest fear is the revelation of their intimate personal secrets. Each of the book's seven sections, cleverly labeled for one of the Seven Deadly Sins, gives a glimpse into both the mind and activities of a killer, then proceeds to focus on one of its two protagonists, first Ruth, then Zach, ultimately ending with Ruth. Doing so, Riggs slowly builds to a big finish, dropping tantalizing clues and throwing numerous roadblocks in her cast's path. It's a lively, winning formula, guaranteed to hold you spellbound.