Title: Say You’re Sorry
Author: Melinda Leigh
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
What’s it about: After two years of grieving her husband killed in Iraq, Morgan Dane is ready to get on with her life by starting a new job with the District Attorney’s office in the little town of Scarlet Lake, New York. This plan is derailed when she and Policeman-turned-Private Investigator Lance Kruger find the body of Tess Palmer, her babysitter, who was raped and murdered. The whole town is outraged, and when Nick Zabrowski, her 20 year old neighbor, is charged with the murder, Morgan knows that she must act.
She believes that Nick is not guilty despite the obvious evidence against him, so she gives up a career in the DA’s office by taking Nick’s case. She stands up for him, despite the town’s grudge against him, becoming an obvious target of their dislike. Morgan asks Lance Kruger for help investigating Tess’s murder, and together they make trips around town, speaking with various potential suspects–including Jacob Emerson, Tess’s ex-boyfriend, who was seen fighting with Nick the night of Tess’s death. It turns out that at a party during the summer, Jacob had raped an unconscious Tess, which gives them even more reason to suspect him. In the meantime, Nick spends a few nights in jail, and ends up in the hospital because he was stabbed.
As Morgan and Lance get closer to solving the case, their romance grows, and to Lance’s surprise, Morgan gets a warm welcome from his mother, who suffers with severe mental disorders and doesn’t like strangers. Ultimately, Morgan decides to let go of the pain surrounding her husband’s death, and to live her life, just as her husband had desired for her to do should anything happen to him.
During Nick’s stay in the hospital, Morgan and Lance find out that the one person they never suspected is the man behind Tess’ grisly murder–Phillip Emerson–a respected malpractice lawyer and Jacob’s father. Turns out, he’s been harboring feelings–and secrets–for Tess for years, even becoming the father of her unborn baby.
Upon solving the crime, Morgan gets offered and takes a job at Sharp Investigations, the same Private Investigations firm that Lance works for, ultimately finding a new calling.
My Verdict: This was a very good thriller book, and it was an absolute pleasure to read. I loved the plot, and the characters as both were well written. I was literally sitting at the edge of my seat throughout the book and couldn’t put it down, so that explains why I read it in one day. Ultimately, I did think that Jacob was the one who really was guilty, so my surprise that it was his father, Phillip, can best be explained by my jaw being on the floor. I did not see that coming, which to me is how mystery, thrillers and suspense books should be.
In addition, the description of the murder–which involved rape–seems very realistic, but because I’m not a law enforcement officer, I can’t speak to the veracity of the details surrounding the event. I’m sure that the author did her research. Either way, it definitely made me uncomfortable, but ultimately that’s the point–we should never be comfortable with murders, or terrorist acts, because they’re lives lost, and each of those lives was precious to someone. That ripple is felt not just by the family but also the community–I can attest to that fact as a year after graduating high school, one of the girls passed away from drug overdose in her boyfriend’s apartment. I didn’t know her well, as in I wasn’t her best friend or even within her circle of trust, but I knew her since the time we were children. A lot of people showed up, myself included, at the wake, but to this day, I wonder whether who she would have been. But I digress.
The book also shows that Tess wasn’t perfect–like every eighteen year old–she kept secrets from her grandparents. It’s not her fault that she was murdered–the person to blame was Phillip, who potentially was molesting her since she moved in with her grandparents at the age of 12–but I do think that there’s a message in there that keeping secrets, both from Tess’ side and Phillip’s. I wonder if part of the reason that she didn’t get along with her grandparents is because they lied about her father (he was actually in prison), and she didn’t trust them about what was going on with Phillip and Jacob because she felt like they wouldn’t believe her.
It’s a good book, and I am off to read the next one in the series.