Monday, May 31, 2021

Alice Blanchard: The Wicked Hour

This is the second book in a series and it is really important to read the first book Trace of Evil before this one, as there are many events within the first book that shape Natalie as a character and the town as well.

Alice Blanchard is back with the second book in her Natalie Lockhard series, and during Halloween all thing afoul in Burning Lake, including murder:

Burning Lake is known for it's connection to Wicca, so that means that people come from far and wide to take part in the Halloween fun that occurs each year. Every police officer is expected to help out in some fashion to help keep everything in line. Natalie goes above and beyond as she also volunteers the next morning to help cleaning everything up, but leave it to Natalie to find a young woman lying dead in a dumpster, with no ID. So the search begins to find out who this woman is, why she was in Burning Lake. But this case also bring up more from Natalie's past, something she had not thought about in a very long time, and with recent events already on her mind, Natalie doesn't know if she has it in her to work on another murder. All that keeps her going is the need to keep busy and to get justice for the murdered woman.

This was a good second book in the series, but I do not think that is it as good as the first. This book had a tricky balance to follow up from the events in the first book, as there are many events that occur in the first book that really shape Natalie. You can see at times Blanchard’s struggle with the mystery involved in this book and then personal struggles that Natalie is going through, she is unsure which should take center stage. I don’t think Blanchard gets it quite right, I found more time was spent on Natalie focusing on her own trouble and not that of the case she is working and understandable if this was the real world that is how it should be, but in book format it really slowed the book down. 

As with the first book and the Pager, this one seemed to get a few details wrong the main one that irked me the most was people do not use Vaseline to block smells (of a dead body), they use Vicks. I wonder who is proof reading her books, anyone with a police background? Also, I don’t understand why Blanchard has Natalie switch between calling her parents by their first name and then call them mom and Dad. There are times when I forget their first name and then in the next sentence she states that it is her mom, why not just stick to mom?

I really really missed the Wicca aspect from the first book, I mean i feel like Balnchard has created a unique opportunity by having her books set in burning town and then not taking advantage of it in this book. Yes there was little bit about Wicca here and there but nothing like the first book, and that is where the first book shined.

Well I got it wrong who the bad guy was, so that always boosts a book in my opinion if I cannot figure it all out. There seems to be too many options in Burning Town and I appreciate that Blanchard fooled me till the very end. I just wished more of the book was spent on the mystery aspect and i feel like there are certain things that remained unresolved in the book especially around her high school friend, Bella, which I have Blanchard addresses at another point as I feeling like I was left hanging on that aspect in the story. I mean it does play a main part in Natalie's thought process in the book, so it seems off that all was not addressed there.

This book was good and it does have a lot of character development for Natalie but I found the book to be slow, the mystery aspect too a back seat and I missed the Wicca aspect. All that said I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

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