Extracting precious gas from a deposit in North Carolina is a dirty, dangerous job. Geologist Cleo Cooper won't let the distraction of a dead body found near the drill site interrupt her focus-until the county sheriff Cleo never wanted to see again arrives on the scene.
Twenty-five years ago, tragedy fell on Cleo's family, creating a rift between her and her father that has never healed. And Sheriff Clyde Stuckey was the cause. Now Cleo can't help but remember the painful events she thought were buried by history as she tries to steer clear of a powerful man who's hell-bent on making her suffer.
Cleo Cooper has been hired by a dairy farm to do geology prep - after all, that's what she does best since she's a geologist. While out scouting for sites one morning, she stumbles across the dead body of a young man, Clinton Baker - who has been both stabbed and shot with an arrow through the back. After checking vitals and finding none, she reports the body immediately. What she doesn't count on, however, is that Sheriff Clyde Stuckey would investigate, along with a young detective.
Sheriff Stuckey was the cause of the loss of Cleo's family - her mother's death and her father's incarceration (now released) for a murder he didn't commit. And now the sheriff is doing everything he can think of to convict Cleo of the murder - never mind that she didn't know the victim, and had no stake in profiting in any way from his death.
Along with this, there is the upcoming wedding between Cleo and her ex-husband, Bud, all being planned by their now-grown children, Will and Henri. Cleo doesn't want anything to do with a big, splashy wedding, but Bud does, and so does her daughter, the actual bridezilla, who is turning into a whirling dervish over the entire affair.
Even though Cleo is told by Detective Chris Bryant to stay out of it, she doesn't, mainly because she's been accused, and partly because there has been an apparent attempt on her life, which she isn't sharing with anyone but the detective.
I enjoyed the book for the most part, and I understand that Ms. Sims is a geologist; but unless you're interested in the subject, it gets boring fast. I don't mind a little information regarding the drilling and what they're doing, but when it goes on for pages, I lose interest. I don't go to drill sites, and unless others who read this book do, they probably wouldn't find that part interesting, either. Give us enough information to let us know what's going on, but don't overload our senses with things we don't care about. (The same goes for any mystery, really.)
But back to the book: We get to the murder almost immediately, and then it seemed to have taken a back seat to the drilling, the geology, and the information on finding the fossil. There were a lot of back stories involved; those already mentioned and also the wedding and the hatred between Cleo's dad and Sheriff Stuckey (although it is never explained why they have always hated each other, just why it escalated, which, I suppose, is good enough for now. I would also have liked to have known why Cleo and Bud divorced in the first place, since they seem quite in love with each other.
The bits and pieces about the wedding that was being planned by the children really never seemed to jibe to my ears. This was a remarriage, a second marriage, and why anyone would want a huge, expensive extremely formal affair that cost an arm and a leg (even if you can afford it) seems rather odd to me. It somehow seemed over the top in the long run. There was also a kind of 'ick' factor in that Cleo keeps remarking on Detective Bryant's 'hotness' when he's interested in her daughter. A tad uncomfortable.
Four stars for the writing (very good,) and the mystery. Recommended.