Thursday Thriller Audio: The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
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 (Overall): 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Penguin Audio (March 15, 2022)
Length: 10 hrs and 44 mins
Narrators: Brittany Pressley, Kirsten Potter, Robert Petkoff
The Book of Cold Cases is my second novel by Simone St. James. After reading The Sun Down Motel, I became a fan of the author’s style of combining mystery suspense elements with the supernatural, so I was happy when I found out this one would have similar vibes.
For one, the setup felt familiar, with a story told via two timelines. In the one set in 2017, we meet Shea Collins, a true crime enthusiast. By day she is a receptionist at a clinic, but by night she works on her website called the Book of Cold Cases which focuses on unsolved murders. Tragically, Shea’s obsession was born from a traumatic experience from her own childhood in which she almost became a victim of abduction and murder.
To her surprise, one day Shea recognizes an elderly patient who steps into the office. It is none other than Beth Greer, a former wealthy socialite who had been tied to a pair of brutal murders back in the late seventies. Two men, in separate incidents, were gunned down by the side of the road after stopping their vehicles to help someone. In both cases, a mysterious note was left behind by the killer, with a taunt written in the same hand. At one of the crime scenes though, there was a witness who claimed to have seen a young woman matching the description of Beth Greer, twenty-three years old at the time, running away after the shooting. But even after she was arrested and dubbed the Lady Killer by the press, Beth was ultimately acquitted due to lack of evidence.
For someone like Shea who has spent hours poring over the Lady Killer case, seeing Beth Greer in the flesh was somewhat like meeting a celebrity. Plucking up her courage, she approaches the older woman for an interview for her blog, and to her surprise, Beth accepts.
What follows next is the gradual unraveling of the truth of what really happened, told through the eyes of both Shea and Beth using alternating perspectives. As the interview between the two women goes deeper into the past, exploring Beth’s childhood growing up amidst her parents’ troubled marriage, as well as Shea’s harrowing escape from her would-be abductor, a clearer picture begins to emerge on how their stories fit together and how the impact of certain events can ripple through time.
At the center of this book is also a house—the Greer mansion in which Beth was raised. It’s a beautiful estate by the ocean. It’s also seemingly haunted. Kept pristine since the time Beth lived there, strange things tended to happen within its luxurious rooms and halls. It’s almost like it’s trying to communicate…but what is it trying to say, and who is sending the message?
The longer Shea tries to answer these questions, the more she becomes drawn into Beth’s past. On another level, she’s also enchanted by the older woman because of her interest in true crime and having been obsessed with the details of the Lady Killer case. As the bond between the two of them grows, so too does the complexity of their relationship. Beth has a secret, and there’s a reason why she has decided to share it with Shea. But as the truth surrounding the past murders remains shrouded for most of the book, readers are left hungering for more details.
In the end, the reveals were subtle, and the experience satisfying. The pacing was certainly compulsive, but the energy behind The Book of Cold Cases was undoubtedly driven by atmospheric suspense rather than pure thrills. I also enjoyed the author’s handling of the alternating POVs and the two timelines. Past and present chapters folded into each other seamlessly, and not even the interview sections could impede the flow.
On the whole, major points to The Book of Cold Cases for originality and the entertainment factor. If you enjoy mysteries with a touch of paranormal, this is the book for you! As well, high marks to narrators Brittany Pressley, Kirsten Potter, and Robert Petkoff for brining the audiobook version to life. All three are readers I’ve enjoyed listening to in the past, and I’m glad they were able to lend their talents to this project, making it such an immersive experience.