Face Her Fear (Detective Josie Quinn #19), by Lisa Regan

Face Her Fear by Lisa Regan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

By this 19th instalment in the Josie Quinn police procedural series, Josie, our heroine, has gone through many traumata: The death of her ex-husband, the shooting of her grandmother, and the death of a colleague – things have amassed and despite being in therapy, Josie suffers from severe insomnia and now there’s bad blood between her husband Noah over… something new!

No wonder Josie follows her therapist’s advice and goes on a retreat with a renowned trauma therapist in a remote, isolated location in the wilderness – what could possibly go wrong?!

In a setting that reminded me of Agatha Christie’s classic “And Then There Were None”, Josie faces her fear(s) when one of the other participants is murdered… A wild bear also makes an appearance and to top things off, a snowstorm suddenly starts and causes everyone to hole up together – a murderer among them!

Without her team, Josie must not only work on her mental health but also find out who killed the victim. A very dense story unfolds brilliantly with a very interesting cast of characters, some chapters from Noah’s perspective who involuntarily approaches the case from another angle, and breathtaking descriptions.

Investigating without her team, without contact to anyone but the therapist and the other patients around, we get to spend a lot of time in Josie’s head. Her thought processes are clever, a delight to read and mostly very plausible. At other times, the action happens at breakneck speed but Regan manages to always find a fitting pacing and blend from one state to the next.

Even though the area Josie and the others are confined to is very small, Regan masterfully uses every nook and cranny to weave a strong and complex web about murder, guilt, abandonment, child abuse and much more. We dive deep into the past of most of those at the retreat and, of course, especially the much-bemoaned dead granny and the posthumously-sainted colleague take some room – the latter as a “ghost voice” in Josie’s head and in the narration. This is reminiscent of the previous novel during which mourning the dead relegated the actual mystery to the lower ranks. Thankfully, it’s by far less prevalent here.

And while I hate the despicable abomination of a word, this novel for me was basically “unputdownable”. I’m still on sick leave after surgery, so I had ample time to read and this novel was devoured in six hours and 44 minutes.

The usual niggle with these novels is that they contain about 85% actual content and the remaining 15% consist of advertisements for and excerpts from Regan’s other novels. This is annoying and leads to the subtraction of one star from this unusual but very thrilling and satisfying read!

Four out of five stars.

Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam

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