12 May 2016

Review: Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson

Amazon Description

A Riveting Cold-Case Mystery from Dee Henderson

Evie Blackwell loves her life as an Illinois State Police Detective . . . mostly. She's very skilled at investigations and has steadily moved up through the ranks. She would like to find Mr. Right, but she has a hard time imagining how marriage could work, considering the demands of her job.

Gabriel Thane is a lifetime resident of Carin County and now its sheriff, a job he loves. Gabe is committed to upholding the law and cares deeply for the residents he's sworn to protect. He too would like to find a lifetime companion, a marriage like his parents have.

When Evie arrives in Carin, Illinois, it's to help launch a new task force dedicated to reexamining unsolved crimes across the state. Spearheading this trial run, Evie will work with the sheriff's department on a couple of its most troubling missing-persons cases. As she reexamines old evidence to pull out a few tenuous new leads, she unearths a surprising connection . . . possibly to a third cold case. Evie's determined to solve the cases before she leaves Carin County, and Sheriff Thane, along with his family, will be key to those answers.

My Review

It’s always interesting to read the book description after reading the book—it shows that what the publisher thought the story was about, what they thought was important . . . which doesn’t always stack up with what I, as the mere reader, thought the story was about. Because I hadn’t read the book description since I requested the book (several weeks before I read it), I honestly thought Traces of Guilt was about Josh Thane and his childhood friend, Grace Arnett. Oops.

Traces of Guilt actually covered both couples (although they weren’t really couples—Traces of Guilt is definitely suspense rather than romantic suspense). Evie is in town to solve some cold case crimes, and Grace is in town to ask for Josh’s help in solving a cold case of her own—her parent’s death, over twenty years before. There’s conflict, mystery and suspense, and plenty of it.

I’ll add a trigger warning here: 

If any readers have avoided some of Dee Henderson’s earlier books (e.g. Taken) because of the themes, they’d be well advised to avoid Traces of Guilt as well. This isn’t the novel you pick up when you’re looking for a little light-hearted entertainment, as the plot elements echo Henderson’s other recent novels—this is one Christian author who isn’t afraid to expose hidden evils.

The other possible proviso is for those who didn’t like Full Disclosure: Ann Falcon is a pivotal character in Traces of Guilt, and while other characters say marriage has been good for her, I’m still not an Ann Falcon fan. She’s too perfect, and I don't like her.

However, this isn’t Ann’s story. Instead, Traces of Guilt is a well-plotted police procedural mystery, with Evie working with Gabriel, Josh, Will and their father to uncover the secrets behind the disappearance of a police deputy and his family, and a small girl. The results are predictably unpredictable. Or perhaps unpredictably predictable.

Overall, Traces of Guilt was a solid mystery that will appeal to Dee Henderson fans (but perhaps not those who loathed Taken, or don't like Ann Silver). But I can't say it was good enough to tempt me to read the next book in the series.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.


  1. Right before I read your review I read another on this book. Their take on the book was that it wasn't a mystery/suspense. Just a book with characters tiring to overcome their past and figure out their future. Interesting what different readers will take away.

    About Ann -- I haven't really liked any of her recent female characters but I have liked the books.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. The other review may well have it right, in that it's almost more women's fiction set against the backdrop of an old mystery. But it's categorised on Amazon as mystery/suspense, and Dee Henderson is known for her romantic suspense, so that was what I was expecting.

      Thanks for your comment!