Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Follow Me Down by Sherri Smith

Growing up, Mia Haas couldn't wait to get away from her small farming community in North Dakota.  Raised by a narcissistic, alcoholic mother and with few friends at school, the only bright spot in her life was her twin brother, Lucas.   He was the town's golden boy, handsome and a hockey star.   Once she graduated, she ran as fast as she could to college and then to a city life as a pharmacist.  Her brother had a harder time settling down as he always thought he'd play professional hockey, but after realizing that wouldn't happen, he eventually returned to their town where he seemed to be happy teaching English at the local high school and coaching the soccer team.  Their mother, who had never recovered from a car accident in the kid's senior year, still lived there in assisted living, but might or might not recognize them from day to day.

Mia's life is better, although she is starting to get bored with her job.  Then she gets the call.  Her brother is missing.  Mia drops everything and heads to North Dakota.  When she gets there, it is a nightmare.  Lucas is not just missing.  He is the prime suspect in the murder of a beautiful high school girl, the daughter of the richest and most influential family in town. Even worse he is suspected of having a relationship with the girl who seemed to have a crush on him.  Mia can't believe any of that and she is determined to stay until she can find her brother and help him refute the charges.  Mia is the only person who seems to worry that something might have also happened to Lucas.

There doesn't seem to be much hard evidence, but the rumors and gossip that drove Mia away are in full force.  Could any of it be true?  Lucas had always been the one the town loved, his good looks and athletic ability making him a hometown hero, but now everyone seems to be against him.  Mia starts to look for other suspects.  Joanna wasn't the perfect girl everyone had thought her.  She had a boyfriend who was the local drug dealer.  She was in constant conflict with her mother, who was living her own dreams of becoming a dancer through Joanna.  But there are plenty of people ready to believe anything about Lucas.  The local sheriff has disliked him since their mother's accident, when Lucas was adamant that law enforcement wasn't getting the true story of what caused their mother to crash.  His former best friend married Lucas' old girlfriend, the girlfriend that couldn't believe it when Lucas and she broke up and who stalked him for months.  The press, sensing a juicy story, are out in full force, printing any rumor they can find.  These people are all too ready to believe the worst about him.  Mia is frantic to find him as she thinks Lucas could be in danger somewhere or murdered along with Joanna.  Can she find him when the police and the whole town seem to be against her?

Sherri Smith has written a taut, fascinating look at small-town life and how the roles never seem to change.  Those with money and good looks lead a charmed life at the expense of those around them.  People are assigned a value and place in society early on and it is almost impossible to change the community's assignment.  As Mia faces down the prejudice and smugness of a town ready for Lucas to get his comeuppance, she remembers why she couldn't wait to leave.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

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