This is the conclusion to the Secrets and Lies trilogy but it's my first book in the series. I'm on a run of being late to the book party but I haven't suffered yet. I hadn't read any of the other books in this series but as far as I can tell, you don't need to. Beyond a few references to the first book, there was nothing that felt like it was missing. My assumption is that if you read the first two books first, you might actually find some of the things in this book redundant. I have absolutely no evidence of that because I didn't read the first two books so feel free to disregard my opinion on that issue.
This is a suspense/thriller with a underling love story. I'll start with the love story- it was intense, emotional and well connected but....It may have been too intense. The level of agony between Sam and Lainey was kind of depressing. Lainey is a cancer survivor who underwent a double mastectomy. Sam is a veteran with terrible burn scars and PTSD. You put those two together and add in Sam's finally grief and suffering and it could really be overwhelming. I loved that Sam and Lainey healed together but if I'm being honest, I found their story to be more than a little depressing at times. Ok, now that we've addressed the romance, let's talk about the mystery.
One of the things I like in books is alternating POV's. I like the context of knowing what each character is thinking. We got that in this book but it ran a bit of a mook because there were so many POVs. We got inside the mind of the killer, the main character and several supporting characters. I don't mind a lot of different POV's but they need to be more clearly delineated in this book so we know who the heck is talking or thinking. For those of you who read other books in this series, I think you might have a much easier time following the alternating POV's. For someone like me who was new to the series, I felt like I was struggling to understand the events and the characters all at the same time.
In terms of the actual plot, there are a lot of people dying. In a purely fictional sense, I'm cool with that. I did have some issues with all the myriad of deaths fit the plot. I think the author was trying to disguise the identity of the killer by throwing the reader off track. The problem for me is that I FELT like I was off track. When I got to the end of the book, I didn't necessarily get how all the prior events fit the conclusion. I can tell you mystery fanatics out there, it is hard to guess the identity of the killer in this book but not impossible. I was very satisfied with the building of the suspect pool and the eventual reveal. I'm just not sure we needed everything that happened before that point.
All in all, I liked the mystery more than the love story but between that and the writing, there are plenty of reasons to give this one a try.
**ARC provided by Publisher**