Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Review: Shallow End: A Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery by Brenda Chapman

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this ebook, free of charge,from Dundurn Press, via Edelweiss, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it,  all opinions are my own.

shallow end cover




Synopsis:

Convicted child molester Jane Thompson has made parole, but one month later the body of the student she was foound guilty of abusing is found on the shores of Lake Ontario. Sergeant Rouleau assigns Officers Stonechild and Gundersund to head up the murder investigation, but things quickly get ugly, and not just with the case. 


Still waters run deep.

English teacher, mother, wife, and convicted child predator Jane Thompson has made parole and she has a plan. She begins her life in the shadows while she bides her time. One month later, the bludgeoned body of the student she was found guilty of corrupting four years earlier is found on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Officers Stonechild and Gundersund head up the investigation and Jane Thompson quickly becomes the prime suspect. But knowing guilt and proving it are two entirely different things.

Wading through deeply buried secrets to the truth will take Stonechild and the team on a twisted journey into the heart of evil. The question is: who will come out the other side?

Book Excerpt:

Chapter One

Sunday, September 4
Jane Thompson lifted a hand to the window and widened two slats of the metal blind so that she could see the street below. The sun struck her full in the eyes, and for one disorienting moment, blinded her. She tilted her head and squinted through the dazzling light toward the sidewalk across the street. The homeless man who’d taken up residence was gone. The media camped outside for the past week also appeared to have given up their daily vigil. By the angle of the sun, darkness would have completely descended in another hour. The reporter and photographer would be off having supper, likely complaining about their thankless assignment. Hopefully, they’d tire of waiting for her by morning.


She wasn’t counting on it.

She let the slats fall back into place and turned to look around her new living quarters on Regent Street. She’d deliberately picked this cramped second floor apartment in a three-unit rental outside of the downtown. The building was a converted house with two units on the main floor and hers taking up the second. One of the downstairs units was empty, the young couple with a baby slipping off in the night the week before, owing two months’ rent. The landlord was having trouble renting it again since most of the university students already had places for the upcoming school term. Not helping his cause were the three university boys who shared the larger unit below her. They played their music loud through most of the day and enjoyed entertaining their buddies at odd hours. Jane couldn’t afford much but she had enough to make the first and last month’s rent and felt lucky to have found this one-bedroom apartment even with the annoyances. Where she lived hadn’t mattered so long as she remained in Kingston.


The confined space made her feel safe.


The bedroom and living room came furnished with somebody’s castoffs. The bed, visible from where she stood, consisted of a saggy mattress on a frame — not even a headboard to make up for the discomfort. An old dresser with a mirror filled one wall, the mirror warped with age so that her reflection came back slightly distorted. The closet was small with room for a few pairs of shoes. A crooked pole at eye level was empty except for the green fall jacket she’d been given.


She made the three steps to the couch and slowly lowered herself onto the cushions. The slanted roofline had meant pulling the couch out from the wall so that she didn’t bang her head. The window that she’d been looking out toward the street was behind the couch, wide and narrow, halfway up the wall. The couch faced an old, cumbersome television sitting on a wood veneer stand — and that was it for furniture. Not even a carpet to soften the space. The first evening, she’d gotten down on her hands and knees and crawled across the hardwood floor, counting twenty-three cigarette burns on its pitted face in the living room alone. A scarred space. Like her.

Jane stared at the blank television screen. She hadn’t turned it on yet, not wanting to let the outside world into her private space. Not yet.


Should she chance a walk to the grocery store for milk and bread? It was several blocks from her apartment in a high traffic part of the city. The idea of going there scared the hell out of her in daylight when she could be recognized. Her trips outside had all been done under the cover of darkness up until now. But she needed an early night. Maybe, if she settled in earlier, she’d be able to sleep. She closed her eyes. Tomorrow morning, she had to go out, regardless. Eight thirty she was to be at the Sally Ann on Division Street to begin her job sorting clothes. The store was open from ten to five thirty, six days a week, but she’d be in the back and had to get there before opening time. She’d leave the apartment extra early to avoid the reporter in case he was sent another day.

The higher you go, the harder the fall. Her God-fearing mother had been right about that. Wrong about a whole lot of other stuff, but bang on with the dire predictions.

Jane stood and crossed the narrow space to the bedroom. She opened the closet door and for a moment stood staring into the empty space. Adam had promised to come by with her clothes but hadn’t returned her calls. She knew that he was away. She’d walked the back streets to her old home on Silver Street her first night out and three evenings after that, each outing filled with disappointment.


She took her jacket off the hanger and slipped it on, pulling the hood over her head. Adam knew her release date was Monday. He’d deliberately taken Olivia and Ben out of town to send her a message. He wanted her out of their lives. He’d let her see them when he was ready, on his terms. She felt resolve course through her. She had nothing left to lose except her relationship with her children. Adam may have divorced her a year in, but she was still their mother. Adam couldn’t make that go away, much as he’d threatened to sever their ties with her.

She paused for a moment in front of the mirror. A diet of prison food had made her lose weight. So much so that she barely recognized the jutting cheeks and narrow jaw of the woman before her, even considering the wavy effect of the glass. Her last haircut, two days before her release, had shorn the length into a cap — long bangs and cropped short above her ears. A pixie cut, the girl had called it, before Jane’s locks of blond hair fell to the floor.


Jane had called it a fresh start.


She grabbed her keys from the top of the dresser and headed for the door. She’d sneak out the back way just in case someone was lingering out front. The fence behind the detached garage had a gap that she could easily slip through. It led into an alley with the brick wall of a house lining the other side of the path. The opening allowed her to come and go unobserved — an escape route already coming in handy as she began her new life
in the shadows.


Review:

This book picks up where Cold Mourning, left off, and is the second in the series. This book takes on an interesting premise- what if a known criminal is released on parole, and then their victim dies, are they REALLY the first person you should look at? Or should you treat the crime like any other and start with the victim? This case puts Stonechild and the team to the test, forcing them to rethink what they THOUGHT they knew and what they know now, and trying to link everything together. There are enough red herrings to make this an absolute page turner, and if you have never read this series, this is an excellent book to jump into it with, as it can easily be read alone! I highly recommend it!


About the Author:

Brenda Chapman’s first Stonechild and Rouleau novel, Cold Mourning, was nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel, 2015. Midwest Book Review highly recommends the series, calling it “outstanding.” Brenda is a former teacher and senior communications advisor and lives in Ottawa, Canada.

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