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Book Review | Hidden Pieces by Mary Keliikoa

From the publisher: Sheriff Jax Turner is staring down the barrel of his broken past. On the brink of ending it all, he feels like a failure following his daughter’s tragic passing and his subsequent divorce. But when a schoolgirl vanishes and her backpack is found in a sex offender’s backseat, the weary lawman drags himself into action and vows to nail one last sociopath. Can the jaded sheriff take down the culprit in time to bring the young girl home alive?

Hidden Pieces is the first book in a new mystery series. It makes the most of its Pacific Northwest setting. A lot of characters are introduced, as it is clearly laying the groundwork for future books in the series. It will need trigger warnings for some readers; it opens with Sheriff Jax Turner about to kill himself on a misty beach. Five years after the death of his child to cancer and a year after his divorce, he is in the depths of depression and feels unable to continue. He is saved when his police radio crackles to life and he learns that a teenage girl has been abducted. He is determined not to fail her. He can always return to kill himself after she is found.

The police work and the character backstories are engrossing. It seemed to me that the author did her research on police procedures, clinical and forensic psychology, and the presence of buried munitions from World War II on the west coast. An FBI agent also makes an appearance, although her role in the case is minimal. Some characters felt pretty stock, like the defensive hotshot politician protecting his athlete son, but I had no trouble staying involved in the story.

There is some trickery with plot points from the author that I eventually caught on to, and characters keep secrets to advance the narrative. In addition, there are two big twists at the end. I would have liked the book better if the author had stuck to one. Still, I enjoyed Hidden Pieces enough and am interested in the characters enough to read a book two, if one is written.

I read an advance reader copy of Hidden Pieces from Netgalley.

Hidden Pieces is scheduled to be published in late October 2022, and the Galesburg Public Library will own it in print and digital.