Simone St. James
A true crime blogger gets more than she bargained for while interviewing the woman acquitted of two 1977 cold case slayings.
In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect—a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.
Oregon, 2017. Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases—a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes.
They meet regularly at Beth’s mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she’s not looking, and she could swear she’s seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn’t right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?
I found it very difficult to write a review for The Book of Cold Cases. I absolutely loved Simone St. James’s previous two novels – The Broken Girls and The Sun Down Motel. It has been some time since I read them, but I knew that I was going to read The Book of Cold Cases as soon as I got my hands on a copy.
Simone St. James’s books straddle the line between the thriller and horror genres, being that they are, at heart, ghost stories. I found The Book of Cold Cases to be a bit less of a thriller and more of a mystery. I was never on the edge of my seat nor felt my heart racing.
The Book of Cold Cases is a supernatural mystery about secrets, lies, and tragedy. It started strong with Shea’s dark past, Beth’s charisma, and the creepy Greer mansion. The ghost elements did add a bit of creepiness to the story, but not much. The last 40 percent of the book was where things lacked luster.
I thought that the mystery central to The Book of Cold Cases novel was solved too quickly. There was no big twist or surprise in the story. As a result, the resolution of the book was long and a bit slow. The story ended up feeling like it was part family drama, with a mystery at its center, and part about the main character overcoming trauma. Even though the resolution of the book was drawn out, I was left with unanswered questions that are still nagging me.
I should also mention that Beth’s, the formerly accused serial killer’s, whole thing was essentially poor little rich girl with dead parents & addiction issues. While there was more to the story than simply that, it was hard to sympathize with her or her predicaments. Beyond the two main characters, most of the other characters felt extraneous. I think this was largely due to their underdevelopment. Even the protagonist, Shea, was not fully developed. She had plenty of room to grow during the book, but it failed to be shown.
Overall, I was a bit let down by The Book of Cold Cases, but I still quite enjoyed it. It is not St. James’s best work, but it is still worth reading.
The Book of Cold Cases
March 15, 2022