Title: Where the Dead Sleep
Series: Ben Packard: Book Two
Author: Joshua Moehling
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Length: 316 Pages
Category: Murder Mystery
Rating: 5 Stars
At a Glance: Deputy Ben Packard doesn’t rely on flash and bang to carry a story. He’s far removed from the snarky, posturing, tough guy cop stereotype. He’s simply the investigator Sandy Lake needs, because he’s the investigator who’s not going to stop until he solves a case.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: A small town’s dark secrets turn deadly…
When an early morning call brings Deputy Ben Packard to the scene of a home invasion, he finds Bill Sandersen shot in his bed. Bill was a well-liked local who chased easy money his whole life, leaving bad debts and broken hearts in his wake. Everyone Packard talks to has a story about Bill, but no one has a clear motive for wanting him dead. The business partner. The ex-wife. The current wife. The high-stakes poker buddies. Any of them—or none of them—could be guilty.
As the investigation begins, tragedy strikes the Sheriff’s department, forcing Packard to make a difficult choice about his future: step down as acting Sheriff and pursue the quiet life he came to Sandy Lake in search of, or subject himself to the scrutiny of an election for the full-time role of Sheriff, a job he’s not sure he wants.
There’s a hidden history to Sandy Lake that Packard, ever the outsider, can’t see. Bad blood and old secrets run deep. But an attempt on Packard’s life means he’s getting uncomfortably close to the dangerous legacy of the quiet Minnesota town. And someone will do anything to keep it hidden.
Review: Joshua Moehling vaulted his way into my must-read category with his debut thriller And There He Kept Her. This wasn’t accomplished with excessive theatrics or grandiose characterizations, but with a solid police procedural, the highest of stakes, and a dedicated and tenacious Deputy Ben Packard, Sandy Lake’s acting sheriff. Ben is back to prove he’s not a one-hit-wonder in Where the Dead Sleep. He does nothing but solidify the truth that when a mystery needs solved, he’s the best man for the job.
Whereas book one in this series was a nail-biting race to save a young woman’s life, this installment is more sedate, a classic murder mystery rather than a story fraught with terror. Bill Sandersen was shot dead in his bed, in his home, with his wife as the only witness. And, at first blush, perhaps the only suspect. The challenge in this case is a seeming lack of motive, a dearth of solid evidence, and the fact that the deeper Ben digs, the more convoluted the investigation becomes. He’s clearly being stonewalled by the Gherlick sisters; and their mother, who has dementia, is a less than reliable source of testimony, which doesn’t lead Ben any closer to the truth. If he’s going to solve this case, it will take diligence and focus. Too bad there’s a special election on the near horizon. Oh. And someone’s trying to kill Packard too.
Moehling tosses out breadcrumbs to keep readers on the trail as Ben navigates everything thrown at him as well as everything he must dig deep to uncover. Top of the list, of course, is finding a killer, and that means digging into Sandy Lake’s past. As a man whose only connection to the area is the long-ago vacations with his family—until tragedy struck—Ben doesn’t have the advantage of an insider’s trust from the townspeople. He’s simply trying to keep a low profile and do his job to the best of his abilities, but the rumor mill is going to grind, regardless. Deciding to run for office when Sheriff Stan Shaw ultimately succumbed to cancer wasn’t a decision Ben made lightly. It most assuredly did open up a can of worms, though, leaving Ben suspended in the midst of a mystery he may not be able to solve.
Deputy Ben Packard doesn’t rely on flash and bang to carry a story. He’s far removed from the snarky, posturing, tough guy cop stereotype. Ben is smart, he’s steady, and he’s dedicated to his duties. He’s the investigator Sandy Lake needs, because he’s the investigator who’s not going to stop until he solves a case. Whether the townspeople know this is another matter. Time will tell how politics and underlying, not to mention underhanded, agendas influence everything in this insular community as things move forward. One thing is certain: there’s bound to be much more criminal intrigue.
Readers who love an excellent investigative mystery should visit Sandy Lakes, Minnesota. The best part is you can do it from the comfort of your favorite reading spot.
You can buy Where the Dead Sleep here: