The Silent Girls by Eric Rickstad (Witness Impulse, Nov. 25th, 2014)-If you’re a fan of gritty thrillers, you’ll love The Silent Girls. More than a few girls have gone missing in and around the rural town of Canaan, Vermont, and one of the girls is the niece of Harlan Grout, the lone detective on the Canaan Police force. After finding her abandoned car on the highway, Grout calls Frank Rath, PI and former cop to help him look into her whereabouts. Frank is reluctant to get involved, but with his daughter Rachel off at college, things are…quiet, and the case is admittedly intriguing, especially once connections start to be made with other disappearances. The only problem is, all of these girls are quite different, and finding a common thread proves to be quite the task.
Frank Rath is my favorite kind of PI: he’s got miles of baggage and he’s approaching middle age with trepidation and more than a little loneliness (his first date with a local woman goes dismayingly bad), and he absolutely can’t help but get involved with this case. Rickstad keeps the plot moving connecting the dots between the girls (it won’t be what you think), and following the trail of a particularly creepy killer, while keeping Rath equally on his toes at home, when he can’t get in touch with his daughter at college. Consequently, he can’t help but draw parallels between his daughter’s sudden unavailability and the case. The somewhat inhospitable landscape of rural Vermont in winter keeps the tension high, as does the stakes involved in finding the who in the whodunit. The author sets out all the clues for his readers, but I had a hard time guessing the killer, and there’s a weird twist (the best kind of weird), that sets this apart from most thrillers. Be prepared to read late into the night, and trust me, the next book can’t come soon enough.