Fallout by Carrie Stuart Parks
A thrilling Christian mystery story with great twists, suspicious characters, and a very satisfying resolution!
When art teacher Samantha Williams saw the black SUV speeding through the parking lot straight for her classroom of elementary students, she rushed the kids out the door in the nick of time, barely escaping injury when the vehicle plowed in. With all the children safe and accounted for, she turned her attention back to the wreckage that had been the art room to find her purse. However, as the structure was unstable, she couldn't dig through to search. The officer on the scene promised the area would be under constant observation until the vehicle's passengers could be rescued and the car removed. When her purse was uncovered, he'd have it delivered to her at her home. But there was another problem; the speeding SUV had totaled her car as it rocketed across the parking lot, and without transportation or the keys to her apartment, she was stranded on site. Adding to the situation's impact, the school principal canceled art classes for the rest of the year: Sam was now unemployed!
First responders rescued the passenger, but the driver had not survived. However, her death was not caused by the accident; the woman had been shot! She and the survivor, Dr. Dustin "Dutch" Van Seters, had been headed across the small town of LaCrosse, Washington, to the subdivision construction site where the bones had been found when the shooting had occurred. Dutch was to meet with the state's forensic anthropologist to possibly work on a reconstruction of the victim's face to aid in identification. To his knowledge, his companion, Beatrice Greer, had no enemies or was involved in anything shady, so the shooting had to be an accident.
As Sam watched the rescue operation and considered her meager options, she was approached by a young pregnant woman who had been dogging the steps of the officer in charge of the scene. The officer had been going to a construction site where human remains had been discovered when the call about the school had come in, and she had followed the man there. Mary Thompson's husband, Mark, a long-distance truck driver, had gone missing months earlier, and the police were not taking his disappearance seriously enough. She was confident he hadn't left her and their unborn child on his own. She followed Officer Adams to see if the remains discovered might be her missing spouse. Hearing about Sam's dilemma, she offered her a place to stay with her until Sam could get her purse back or make solid arrangements to get home. But that night, as the two women slept, someone broke into the house. Sam was awakened by noise from the intruder, and she frightened whoever was away. However, they left behind Sam's empty purse, her wallet, driver's license, money, credit cards, and keys, all missing! Someone had Sam's entire life in their hands.
Fallout is a thrilling mystery of a story had builds and builds to a dynamite resolution! The story kept me engaged and wondering the entire time, "What was going to happen next?" Sam, Dutch, and the rest of the main characters were all likable individuals. But you just know someone is hiding something; someone isn't who they appear to be. But though I liked these people, I never knew who was trustworthy. A mysterious black SUV, which made an appearance early on, had me on edge.
The story is told from two points of view: Sam's and Dutch's. I frequently wondered whether either of our narrators was reliable. Dutch is recuperating from past trauma, and Sam has holes in her memory about her past, and what we do know is pretty shadowy. Their circumstances led to some fantastic plot twists and turns that surprised me and kept me glued to the pages. Add in the great descriptions of the Palouse area of Washington state, vivid imaginings of places from Sam's past, as well as a unique and wonderful disguise as a Hutterite, and this was one good and satisfying story.
I recommend FALLOUT for readers that enjoy thrilling mystery stories with loads of action with one of the best examples of Christian mystery fiction I've read.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through NetGalley and Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.