Title: Dark Road Home by Anna Carlisle
Gin Sullivan Series Book One
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
The summer after she graduated from high school, Gin Sullivan’s little sister Lily went missing. Her family fell apart, not to mention her relationship with her high school sweetheart, Jake. Now, almost twenty years later, Gin is living in Chicago and working as a medical examiner when she gets the call: a body’s been found in the woods outside her small hometown. It could be her sister. After all these years, it’s time for Gin to go home and face the demons she tried to leave behind.
Confronting your past is never easy, but for Gin it also means confronting Jake, who was the prime suspect in Lily’s disappearance. To find an answer to the question of what happened to her sister that fateful summer, Gin makes the difficult decision to use her talents as a medical examiner to help the police investigation. But as Gin gets deeper into the case, she uncovers a shocking truth that could change everything–if it doesn’t destroy what’s left of her and her family first.
Buried secrets come to light in Dark Road Home, Anna Carlisle’s sharp and simmering debut mystery.
Dark Road Home, the first installment in Anna Carlisle’s Gin Sullivan series, is a compelling small-town mystery.
Medical Examiner Virginia “Gin” Sullivan returns to Trumbull, PA after the remains of her long missing sister Lily have finally been discovered. Although it has been nearly twenty years since Lily vanished, Gin and her parents, Richard and Madeleine, are hopeful the police will catch her killer, but suspicion falls once again on Gin’s ex-boyfriend Jake Crosby, the police chief’s son. As Gin tries to reconnect with old friends, Christine and Tom, she uncovers troubling information that takes the investigation in a shocking direction.
Gin’s life was never the same after Lily’s disappearance. Her relationship with Jake ended amid her suspicions that he might have killed Lily and her friendship with Christine and Tom drifted into yearly Christmas cards. Leaving behind painful memories, Gin has a successful career in Chicago and she has a comfortable relationship with her boyfriend. It is not until she returns to Trumbull that she realizes how unsatisfying and empty her life has become. Although her trip home is fraught with tension, Gin is surprised by how drawn she is the dying town.
Through her connections with local law enforcement, Gin is allowed to observe the autopsy of Lily’s remains. Cause of death is easy enough to determine but a stunning discovery turns the investigation upside down and forces Gin to rethink everything that happened in the months leading up to Lily’s disappearance. She works up the courage to confront Jake and she is dismayed to discover her attraction to him has not lessened over the years. Their interactions are barely civil and sometimes laced with hostility and she wavers back and forth on whether Jake is truly responsible for Lily’s murder.
Following another suspicious death, Gin’s investigation intensifies and she, along with Jake, find damning information about someone close to her. A puzzling bit of information provides a new lead and once another long buried secret is exposed, Gin is fairly certain she knows who killed Lily. Instead of taking their suspicions to the police, Gin and Jake confront the suspect but their discussion quickly takes a dangerous turn.
Although some aspects of the storyline are somewhat predictable, Dark Road Home is a riveting mystery. With a vast suspect pool, an unclear motive and little evidence, the investigation is rather slow paced but it is full of unexpected twists and turns. Anna Carlisle brings the novel to a pulse-pounding and somewhat poignant conclusion that will leave readers eagerly awaiting the next installment in the Gin Sullivan series.