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“Virtue Falls” is Christina Dodd’s first foray into storylines with a more intense thriller/mystery focus. She has written romantic suspense before (see her Bella Terra series), but “Virtue Falls” focuses much more heavily on the “suspense” element. While this is a new direction for her, it’s also her 50th published novel, and her deft hand is evident.
Elizabeth Banner has returned to the town where, according to trial results, her father killed her mother 23 years ago. Elizabeth’s father is a famous geologist, and she is following in his footsteps. As he has been in prison for those 23 years, Elizabeth points out that her career is due to aptitude more than influence. The project he started before the murder is still ongoing, and Elizabeth has signed on. The town of Virtue Falls is on the cost of Washington state, the perfect place for Elizabeth to investigate the path and impact of tsunamis caused by earthquakes.
That’s foreshadowing, folks, as it doesn’t take long for both an earthquake and tsunami to strike. Serendipitously, Elizabeth is at the team’s coastal worksite alone when that happens, and she videos the event. The cataclysm isolates the town from the rest of the world, and also uncovers hidden bones. Some of those bones prove to belong to Elizabeth’s mother. Her father, who is slipping erratically into Alzheimer’s, has been moved from prison to a “memory care center” in Virtue Falls. Elizabeth’s suicidal ex-husband, former FBI agent Garik Jacobsen, finds a reason to live when he takes on the task of protecting Elizabeth. And it turns out she needs protection: A killer is stalking again, and he has Elizabeth in his sights. Is it the same person who killed Elizabeth’s mother?
I really enjoyed this book, and fans of Lisa Gardner, Alex Kava, Tami Hoag, Erica Spindler, and other similar writers will find it worth their time. Because of the setting – small town – and the isolating earthquake, the possible suspect list is limited but Dodd does a good job of casting suspicion around. I wasn’t 100% sure of who the killer was until nearly the end, which is as it should be. The characters are engaging as well. The narrator, Rebecca Soler, does an excellent job, and I will be adding her to my list of narrators to watch for.
I will definitely be purchasing Dodd’s next installment in the Virtue Falls series.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?
Possibly young adults
What could Christina Dodd have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
The characters were all unlikeable. This works for some stories, but just fell flat on this one, at least for me. For a main character with logical thinking, the things the author had Elizabeth doing were in my opinion, just plain stupid. The book dragged on and on - maybe cut it down to a short story??
What didn’t you like about Rebecca Soler’s performance?
The narrator seemed to make many of the characters come across as angry, when I don't think that was the intent.
What character would you cut from Virtue Falls?
There were so many characters and so many different points of view. I would cut any that didn't contribute to the actual story.
Any additional comments?
I don't recommend this book. I found it dragged on and on, was boring and by half way through, I could care less what happened to the characters and why. It amazes me that so many readers gave the book high praise.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful