Immoral: Brian Freeman
As you hear the voice of the killer in the prologue an image begins to form within the reader’s mind as to who would do such an evil thing to a young girl. Several teens are missing and one dead as Rachel Deese disappears but finding her will not be easy. Rachel is not the most wonderful teen nor does she endear you to her as you get to know her better. Listening to her two friends when questioned by the police, you hearing their conflicting accounts of her character, where they saw her last and why and their opinion of what kind of person she is or was. Jonathan Stride is the detective in charge of this case and he tolerates nothing short of honesty from everyone. Along with his partner Maggie he hopes to uncover the hidden truths and lies that befell this victim. As you listen to Kerry and Sally her two friends tell their account of what happened that last night they were with Rachel, the daredevil feat she wanted to try on the bridge and her callous attitude for life and lack of feelings for others you begin to create a picture of a young girl who cannot seem to find herself and needs the attention of young men and everyone centered on her. Why? Her father died while on a ride at the fair and not realizing that something might have been wrong with him she took it out on her mother. With a stepfather who claimed to want to get close to her and a mother who can’t seem to come to grips with what might have happened the story becomes quite intriguing to say the least. From the author of The Bone House and Spilled Blood comes his first novel that started it all Immoral by Brian Freeman. The title fits the character as most would say Rachel Deese is definitely the perfect definition of the word. As Jonathan begins his investigation and speaks to some of the teachers at the school he finds himself rather stonewalled when dealing with Nancy Carver. Nancy is brash, bold and hardnosed when discussing Rachel. Told things in confidence she shares nothing of any consequence with him nor does she think anyone will ever find her. Rachel they feel does not want to be found and her relationship with others not that tight. Part-time counselor and mentor to some of the girls that were deeply affected by the disappearance of the first girl, she won’t budge, gives him her assessment of how he sizes her up but first the author allows the reader into one of his vivid dreams where he sees not only his wife that passed but both girls too.
But, the pieces start to fit together when Emily tries to commit suicide, Nancy Carver the same and Sally admits what happened to her in the barn. One man stands to bind all three women tighter and when the truth about him comes out just where and how Rachel fits in will make your blood curdle and bones chill. As the snow and ice pelt away and the cold weather becomes more intense the police are trying to find any evidence of where Rachel might be. As author Brian Freeman takes us back to where it all began with Emily, how she managed to get Graeme to marry her and her many deceptions.
Heather Hubble and her daughter Lissa were riding on a bumpy road when she stopped her car to take a look around and photograph some pictures. Highway 53 onto a nondescript dirt road about 10 miles northwest of Duluth where she recalls for the reader going as a teen. Many teens likes to meet guys there and the barn that loomed out was a constant reminder of her youth and its former beauty. But, leaving Lissa to explore in the brush might uncover something that would have helped to find Rachel or Kerry. Coming out of the brush or the woods she is holding a bracelet, which her mother insists she put back. Dirty and having been on the ground her mother does not alert herself to the fact that maybe she needed to look into where it was found rather than insisting she put it back. But, you know kids.
Jonathan is working overtime on this case when approached by the Deputy Sheriff his immediate boss. Warned that he has only two weeks left to find the kidnapper or killer and the fact that the previous case from the past year was still unsolved he knew he was on borrowed time to get this done. But, time off to relax at the casino would bring him another distraction in the way of Andrea a teacher at Duluth High School.
But, a tip comes in and alerts them to the area where Rachel was before she disappeared. A gold bracelet the key and a piece of where white turtleneck. When Stride meets with the Tenby he learns more about Emily and Graeme’s marriage. From the start it was unique, almost a marriage of convenience and after Emily loses a child emotionless. With Rachel hoping to create a wedge between her mother and stepfather things in that house were worse. But, when Emily sees the bracelet she turns more than white as the investigation is now in full swing, the area is being combed, witnesses reinterviewed and Rachel still missing.
When the evidence is compiled and the blood is found the man that they think killer Rachel is her stepfather Graeme Stoner and the attorney for the defense Archie Gale is ruthless, could care less if he is innocent or guilty but hopes to destroy and take down the smart prosecutor Daniel Erickson. But, the case has Stride worried that they missed something as the evidence is too pat, the blood stains, the pictures, implication that she and Graeme had an affair and the word of the counselor all seem to tie the case up in neat bow but too neat. Stride feels that they missed something but what and his relationship with Andrea although great he begins to wonder if it will work.
As the trial is about to begin and prosecution seems to have won on jury selection, the jury sequestered and the players in place what will happen might surprise you as the author creates twists you won’t see coming as everyone tries to find out what really happened to Rachel and if she orchestrated the events. As Daniel Erikson presents his opening arguments that are compelling, detailed and definitely leave no doubt that Graeme is guilty but we need to hear from the defense first before we make our final decision. Could someone be framing him? Did he really have an inappropriate picture of Rachel? Did he really have an affair with her? Where is her body? Did he dispose of it?
The trial heats up and Stride takes the stand followed by Emily. What the jury and the reader learns will shed light on what might have happened to Rachel but will definitely bring the curtain closer to Emily. But, when Emily decides to put an end to it all guess who winds up dead?
Three years later the case is closed and the victim thought to be gone but what happens next will astound you as we learn Rachel was alive at the time of the trial but someone dumped her body in the desert in Las Vegas. Enter Serena Dial of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department who will now meet both Stride and Maggie. Their relationship heats up but the end result of what really happened to Rachel, who is guilty and more you won’t believe as the master of deceit, deception, intrigue, surprises and twists and turns author Brian Freeman definitely stumps the reader when he delivers his action packed and shocking ending to this explosive first novel. Wait until you find out who killed Rachel! Can’t wait to read the next in this series and find out where life takes Stride. Immoral: just who fits the definition. Read it and find out. Stride is hot, cool, smart and definitely determined to solve a case and relentless in his pursuit of the truth. Read Immoral.
Fran Lewis: reviewer
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