cover image The Dead Season

The Dead Season

Tessa Wegert. Berkley Prime Crime, $17 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-09791-5

Wegert’s so-so sequel to Death in the Family finds senior investigator Shana Merchant suspended from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation in upstate New York while she receives counseling for PTSD. Fourteen months earlier, Shana—then an NYPD detective—was held captive by Blake Bram, a serial killer from her hometown of Swanton, Vt. She escaped, but Bram remains at large and isn’t finished tormenting Shana. Shortly after police in Swanton find bones belonging to her Uncle Brett, whom everyone thought abandoned his wife and kids 19 years ago, nine-year-old Trey Hayes goes missing in New York’s Thousand Islands area. Bram leaves clues suggesting that if Shana wants to save Trey, she must first solve Brett’s murder. Despite having neither jurisdiction nor the desire to probe her kin’s troubled past, Shana feels obligated to play along. Convoluted plotting and some questionable character motivations aside, this tense, twist-riddled slow burn largely satisfies as a self-contained mystery while forwarding the series arc. Jan Burke fans should take note. Agent: Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary. (Dec.)