Driven by the gruesome, unsolved murder of her brother when she was 11, Detective Victoria Mullins’ sharp eye and keen intuition begin to uncover the horrific similarities between her newest case and the one she has dedicated her life to solving. As the mystery unfolds, who can she trust? Is this bigger than she knows? And how can she exact the justice her brother deserves without becoming a monster herself?
It was that strange time of day when one couldn’t quite tell whether it was late morning or early afternoon. The sun was low in the sky, and it cast a golden orange hue over everything along the landscape. Winter in New England was like that; short days, sunset at 4:30, dusk at 2. It was eerie. No matter the time, the day always felt like it was already almost over, and people bustled all around trying to accomplish what they could before it was time to retire to their homes and have dinner once it was totally dark at 5 o’clock. Kids with bedtimes of 8 pm felt like they were cheating the rules, and even parents were ready to tuck in by 9.
Lydia Marks glared at the clock on the wall, its ticking incessantly taunting her eardrums. Soon, she thought, I can be done. Raising the corners of her mouth into an uncomfortably fake smile, she redirected her eyes to her screen, mounted her fingers on the keyboard, took a deep breath and got herself back to work. Almost seven hours and two cups of hot tea later, Lydia dragged her body from her desk into the kitchen. A few slices of salami on wheat bread and a glass of water gave her the little bit of fuel she needed to get on with her night. It was no 5-star meal, but the meat melted on her tongue like butter, and she had a moment of utter appreciation for its taste. Now I can be done.
She headed toward her foyer closet and paused as she passed the large, gold-framed mirror in the short hallway. She caught sight of herself, and felt compelled to stop and check in with the woman she didn’t know. Staring back at her was a fair-skinned, slender, yet shapely girl. Her dark-blonde hair hung in perfect trestles, and her cool grey eyes looked expressionlessly back into themselves. Lydia fumbled to connect with the image, but failed. A shrug of the shoulders, a turn of the neck, and she moved past the awkward moment of silence they’d shared.
After putting on her warmest jacket and tying her boot laces, Lydia grabbed her scarf and gloves, and stepped out her back door. The icy blast of 15 degree air slapped her face like the back of hand. She hurried down the steep slope of the hill atop which her home sat, avoiding stopping to look around to make sure she wasn’t seen. She assumed she wouldn’t be, since it was now 10 pm, and everyone who owned homes in the hills typically had the last lights go out around 9:15. Forty five minutes should be long enough for them all to have made their ways to bed and fallen asleep, even if they’d stayed up to watch TV next to their already snoring spouses. Lydia darted into the woods at the bottom of the slope and disappeared amongst the trees.