Title: Secrets Never Die
Author: Melinda Leigh
Genre: Suspense, Thriller
What It’s About: Evan, an at-risk teenager, returns to an unusually dark house, two hours past his curfew. His biological father has stoked his anger, and he took it out on his mother’s new husband and recently retired cop—Paul—who has been nothing but kind and patient with him since their marriage. He enters the house to find that Paul had been shot in the stomach, and watches as a man who appears to wear a cop’s badge shoots Paul, execution style. Evan flees the house despite being gravely injured and does his best to evade law enforcement.
When Tina, Evan’s mother, arrives home and finds Paul dead, she calls Lance first, involving the Sharp Investigations team to help find her son and find the true murderer behind her husband’s death.
Throughout the course of the investigation, Morgan and Lance find out that Tina harbors a darker past—she was the daughter of a drug lord known Joe Martins, who was in control of all of Newark’s drug scene. She was the one whose testimony put him away in jail, and aimed with the knowledge that Joe would kill anyone who crossed him, she changed her name to hide from him in plain sight. It also comes to light that Evan and Paul had an argument that got a little physical, and as a result, the sheriff makes Evan the primary suspect in Paul’s death, labeling him as armed and dangerous.
Evan, in the meantime, is resourceful and capable when hiding from law enforcement. He hides in an abandoned summer home, steals the food, and escapes from the home when he realizes that an officer has been called to the property. He hides his tracks by drowning the boat he was using to navigate from a campground near his home, and then hides in a cave while he gets help from his friend, who helps him evade a police officer and also gets in touch with his mom for him.
In the meantime, Sharp does more investigating into Joe Martin, and realizes with a delight that one of the first articles written about Joe Martin’s operation was written by Olivia Cruz, a reporter who has helped them out in the past. He goes to her for help, and she is able to get them an interview this Joe Martin, who was recently released from the Albany prison, but stayed in the area. Joe reveals to them that he is aware of Tina’s existence, but he hasn’t done anything to her because she is smart and aside from his son, Aaron, Tina and her son are the only family Joe has left. When Joe ends the interview, and leaves the premises, Aaron tells his goons to kill both Olivia and Sharp. The two outsmart the goons, and ultimately kill them in self-defense.
The friend notifies Tina and also Morgan of Evan’s situation, so together Morgan and Lance head towards the creek to find the boy. There, they find Tina and the friend being held at gunpoint by Aaron, who is accusing Tina of stealing $100,000 from their father. Tina does not cave in to Aaron, and tells him that she has the money in her trunk, which gives Lance the opening he needs in order to take Aaron down. A fight ensues, the friend gets shot in the leg, and Lance comes out on top while Aaron gets sent downriver. After that, Lance crosses the swollen river to get to Evan in the cave, and together with Morgan and Tina’s help, he gets them both back across the river. Tina then draws the gun on Morgan and Lance, telling them to put Evan in the back of her car, so that she can disappear with the boy forever. Morgan manages to talk her down to tell her that the medical supplies that she has in the back of her car (which Tina stole from work) is not even close to enough to heal Evan with the injuries that he was suffering.
Ultimately, Evan is saved, and the charges against him are dropped, especially when they find Brian, Paul’s partner on the workforce, in the back of Aaron’s sedan. Tina also sets up a meeting wit Joe and tells him to stay away from her and her son, or else she has a lot of information on Joe that will send him back to prison for a second and final time.
Morgan also realizes that the reason she has been stalling on setting up the wedding date with Lance was because all of her memories of her prior wedding were tied to John, her deceased husband. It is her grandfather who makes he realize that she does not need to have a similar wedding to the one that she had with John—but that rather it doesn’t matter how she gets married, just as long as she gets married to Lance. They set the date for September.
My Verdict: Yet another brilliant book in the Morgan Dane series, in my opinion. I really enjoyed reading about how a teenager manages to evade police—while most people would agree that it’s dumb to do that, in this case it makes sense why he did it, since he believed a police officer was after him. It shows a different type of life skill that most teenagers do not have.
I also enjoyed that in this book it’s mostly about Lance’s concern for Evan—you see how much he cares about the boy, and does to great lengths to save him, which I would hope shows Evan that he has people who have his back no matter what.
As always, Morgan, Lance and Sharp manage to show-up the Police Department in their investigative skills by finding the true killer and culprit behind the crime. It almost looks like the police department is a joke in the little town of Scarlet Falls, which doesn’t bode well for the department at all.
Overall, the book was lovely and I am enjoying the series involving Morgan Dane. Can’t wait for the next one.