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Sweet After Death: A Detective Alice Madison Novel    by Valentina Giambanco Amazon.com order for
Sweet After Death
by Valentina Giambanco
Order:  USA  Can
Quercus, 2018 (2018)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Valentina Giambanco's Sweet After Death is fourth in her series starring Seattle homicide Detective Alice Madison. As the story opens, Alice is dispatched along with her partner, detective sergeant Kevin Brown, and crime scene investigator Amy Sorensen to the remote town of Ludlow, Washington State.

As the story opens, readers meet young, abused Samuel, whose father sends one son at a time into the wilderness to be hunted by the others - and harshly punished if caught. They live outside Ludlow in 'a mountainous area with more deer than people.' We know that we will see more of Samuel and hope that he can outrun his pursuers. His fate pulls readers' attention through the story.

Ludlow's Chief Sangster has called for help after finding a 'dead man in a burned-out car with the real possibility of torture' - the victim was the town's doctor. As the detectives interview townsfolk and Amy gets on with her forensics work, readers share some of Alice's own memories of childhood trauma, after she ran away from home.

Then, when the police chief is addressing townsfolk, shots are fired and a local man is killed. In the doctor's office, Alice finds a grubby square of white cotton with 'Help Us' in a child's writing. Arson follows, and more violence that brings US Marshalls into the case - what is going on?

Of course, readers end up with all the answers - and there's closure for young Samuel and for Alice as well. I'd like to read more of this series.

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