Gillette Park by Gerri Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a really well-balanced mix of paranormal, romance, drama and mystery. Obviously Ms Hill has been writing for a long time and her skill and experience shine through with how well the characters, plot and pacing integrate into a really satisfying read.
For the last 23 years, children have been murdered every summer in Gillette Park, Colorado. The police, sheriff and FBI have had no luck in finding any evidence or clues – just the bodies of the missing children. As a last resort, the FBI engages Dr. Grace Jennings, a psychic, to see if she can find anything to explain why this is happening and who is behind it. Partnered with Mason Cooper, who was a child when the disappearances began and has returned to her hometown as a sheriff’s deputy, Grace is drawn into something more malevolent than just a child killer.
I really was impressed with the pacing – there was a lot going on with the book but I never found it bogged down with extraneous detail or slow. The mystery surrounding the 23 years of murders, Mason’s own personal issues and Grace’s past all melded together into a cohesive story with just the right amount of ominousness.
The two lead characters – Mason and Grace – they were both well developed and were easy to connect with. I usually cringe at the word “soulmate” but it worked in this context – there wasn’t an instalove, the love came later, but the two fit one another and the build up of trust and acceptance as the investigation progressed was believable and the romance element didn’t feel contrived or forced into the larger mystery.
From a paranormal perspective – there’s no doubt there was paranormal content (ghosts all over the damned place) but it wasn’t a full-on horror story. The ghosts were tragic (and I loved that each of the children were so distinctive and real, made their deaths that much more poignant) and the underlying evil was more ominous than terrifying. This helped keep the story grounded and not go over the top. Mason’s uncertainty/anxiousness with the idea of what Grace was doing worked particularly well. Mason wasn’t able to see/hear, but her fear was palpable and reasonable as was her determination to keep pushing ahead with the investigation and to listen to Grace with an open mind. It was a great balance – letting the reader and Mason learn to suspend disbelief.
It’s really interesting the way that Ms Hill portrays the town’s reaction after 23 years of murders. Those who have been around don’t talk about it – its like there’s a malaise that enshrouds the town, with the knowledge of what has been happening and will continue to happen being like the elephant in the room. This inability to admit or confront what is so apparent continues on with Mason’s relationships – she continues in the broken pattern with her mother, never facing the potential of her parentage and never really forming any kind of strong bond with her old friends/co-workers at the sheriff’s office.
With Gillette Park, Ms. Hill masterfully weaves the mystery, drama, romance and paranormal elements into a cohesive and enthralling story.
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MEC Reviews: Gillette Park – Gerri Hill
Gillette Park by Gerri Hill