Book Review: Bitter Falls by Rachel Caine
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Thriller, Suspense
Series: Book 4 of Stillhouse Lake
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (January 21, 2020)
Length: 336 pages
After the turning point at the end of the last book, I was afraid that the Stillhouse Lake series might start going down a different path and risk losing sight of what made these books great…but turns out I had nothing to worry about! Yes, there are some changes, but I felt they were all positive ones. As a result, Bitter Falls might be my favorite installment yet.
But first, since this is the fourth volume in the series, I would advise against continuing with this review if you aren’t caught up and don’t want to be spoiled for the previous books. Also, while Bitter Falls can technically be enjoyed as a standalone, there’s still a lot in the main character’s background that will be referenced and it would be best to read the books in order, starting from the beginning. After being on the run for years, our protagonist Gwen Proctor has finally decided to take a stand and put down some roots in Stillhouse Lake. But the attitude of the town has shifted ever since she outed herself as the former wife of Melvin Royal, one of the most notorious serial killers the country has ever seen. Even after Gwen had been acquitted from all suspicion, she and her family still faced harassment and death threats, spurred on by the families of some of Melvin’s victims. And now that everyone knows where she is again, Gwen is once more fearing for the safety of her loved ones. What’s worse, some of the residents of Stillhouse Lake also want her gone, as they’re angry at the unwanted attention she’s drawn to their once quiet town.
Trying to push these concerns out of her mind, Gwen turns her focus to her new job working as a private investigator for a security agency. Her newest assignment is a doozy—a missing persons cold case resurrected by a mysterious charity. Three years have passed since a college student named Remy Landry was last seen, and Gwen traces the young man’s disappearance to a fanatical cult known to recruit members against their will.
All I have to say is, holy crap, this was good. For three books now, we’ve followed Gwen Proctor as she and her family tried to flee the shadow of their past. While it’s clear that’s not about to end anytime soon, it’s also nice to see that Gwen has a new purpose. Her position as a private investigator has definitely added a fresh angle to this series, and no doubt this will inject some new life into the stories going forward. I don’t want to reveal too much more about the plot of Bitter Falls because there are just some incredible moments you have to experience for yourself, but I will say that this was probably the most exciting and gripping book of the series so far. Rachel Caine has written a novel that will carry our characters to the next chapter of their lives while still making the past an important part of who they are.
Which brings us to Gwen, who was great in this book. She’s a fighter, a survivor, and one hell of a mom. I loved how amidst all the chaos and danger in her family’s lives, the narrative still took the time to develop her relationship with her kids. Both of them are growing up, and like all kids at that age, they are struggling with problems related to relationships or fitting in. On top of that, they have to come to terms with the fact their father was a monster and must deal with reminders of that every day. Connor also has post-traumatic stress from his ordeal with Melvin, and all Lanny wants is a normal life of a teenager where she can go to parties and go on dates (in light of this, I guess she can be forgiven for making some less-than-intelligent decisions in this book). But Gwen’s fierce love for her kids also made her passion for the case feel real, because she was able to connect to Remy’s parents on an emotional level and recognize how much is at stake. And of course, I can’t end this review without mentioning Sam, who has been a rock for Gwen and a loving, supportive presence to her and her children.
If more of this is what we can expect from this series from here on out, you can bet I’ll be sticking around. I was excited to see there will be another book after this, and I look forward to more edge-of-your-seat action and suspense with Gwen, Sam, and the kids. Can’t wait to see what Rachel Caine has in store for them next!