Review of Severed Echoes by Kirkus Reviews

Get It Verdict: Severed Echoes

Get It! A solid mystery with a skilled protagonist

In this novel, a young woman’s death is considered a suicide, but to a detective, an audio tape of her demise sounds like murder.

Nick Severs, a former Kansas City street cop and now the first and only police detective in Pine Lake, Colorado, has seen 57 bodies in his life. The 58th is 25-year-old Lisa Benoche. Her death is considered “textbook suicide,” and Brenda, from the coroner’s office, tells Severs that around these parts, “September is not a homicide month.” But Severs has questions. The crime scene is “neat,” as if staged. An audio recording from her smart home device plays back “the sound of a struggle, but there were no signs of a struggle.” Further, as his friend Mike, the victim’s co-worker, tells Severs, “She was smart, pretty, and had a great job….Why would she kill herself?” This will be Severs’ first solo death investigation, and he must navigate the requisite revelations (Mike, who brought the recording to the detective’s attention, turns out to have had an affair with Lisa) and red herrings. Meanwhile, as the case progresses, Severs is haunted by a recurring nightmare of a young boy’s horrific demise. It begins to create tension between him and his beloved girlfriend, Claire (“This wasn’t them. They never fought”). He turns to Sam, a former college friend, now a therapist, who reluctantly agrees to help him “figure out heads or tails of this.” Severs makes an impressive first impression in Chernov’s series opener. The author has a good eye for the procedural portion of the book. As Severs makes his initial rounds of Lisa’s property, he mulls possible pieces of evidence: “It was like trying to reconstruct the plot of one play based on a closet stuffed with props from a dozen.” Chernov also creates a strong sense of place (“Every now and then, a cool breeze rolled through the trees, stirring up the scent of warm cedar”). Nightmares aside, Severs is coolly competent and refreshingly free of the self-inflicted personal demons meant to give such characters a pulse.

A solid mystery with a skilled protagonist and room for development in the sequel.

[read review here]


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