Broken Places by Sandra Parshall

brokenReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

During the 1960s many programs were started under the War on Poverty banner. In rural Mason County Virginia, several young people came as VISTA volunteers and after the program ended, a few, like Cam and Meredith Taylor stayed. Now, the Mason County newspaper the Taylors own is in danger of going under unless some other investors can be found soon. Ben Hern, one of the county’s newest residents and a well known (and well off) cartoonist, seems like a likely donor. Only he’s not interested. And then Cam murdered and the Taylor house burns down with a body in it. And suddenly Ben Hern is the prime suspect.

Rachel Goddard is right in the middle of this case from several different angles. First, Rachel was at Hern’s house treating Hern’s dog when Cam showed up first asking and then demanding money. Worse, she fails to tell her boyfriend, Sherriff Tom Bridger about the argument. And then the Taylors’ daughter Lindsay, Bridger’s former love interest, comes to town to take care of arrangements for her parents. Lindsay becomes determined to worm her way back into Tom’s life. In an effort to discredit Rachel, Lindsay starts nosing around in Rachel’s past-a past that Rachel is none to eager to have known.

While the protagonist Rachel Goddard is a veterinarian, the series is really about Rachel the person. In this book, her profession is really in the background. Instead, this is a book that tells the story of long buried secrets that binds the characters together even as those secrets destroy their lives. As is often the case in crime when the crime in this book is finally solved, the motive involves connections between the characters that stretch back decades. Parshall skillfully leads readers along, dropping all of the clues needed to figure it out-buy I doubt that many will until the very end. Written in a fast paced style, the twists in the plot will keep readers glued to the pages until the end.

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