Book Title and Author: The Other Girl by Erica Spindler
Publication date and Publisher: August 22, 2017 by St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
Pages: 352 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: August 1, 2017
From the NYT bestselling author comes a chilling new thriller about a ritualistic murder of a college professor that sends a small town cop back into the trauma she thought she’d put behind her.
Officer Miranda Rader of the Hammond PD in Louisiana is known for her honesty, integrity, and steady hand in a crisis—but that wasn’t always so. Miranda comes from Jasper, just south of Hammond, a place about the size of a good spit on a hot day, and her side of the tracks was the wrong one. She’s worked hard to leave the girl she used to be behind and earn respect in her position as an officer.
However, when Miranda and her partner are called to investigate the murder of one of the town’s most beloved college professors, they’re unprepared for the gruesomeness of the scene. This murder is unlike any they’ve ever investigated, and just when Miranda thinks she’s seen the worst of it, she finds a piece of evidence that chills her to the core: a faded newspaper clipping about a terrible night from her long-buried past. Then another man turns up dead, this one a retired cop, and not just any cop—Clint Wheeler, the cop who took her statement that night. Two murders, two very different men, two killings that on the surface had nothing in common—except Miranda. 14 years ago.
And when her fingerprints turn up at the scene of the first murder, Miranda once again finds herself under the microscope, her honesty and integrity doubted, her motivations questioned. Alone again, the trust of her colleagues shattered, Miranda must try to trust the instincts she’s pushed down for so long, and decide what’s right—before it’s too late.
It had been a while since I’d read an Erica Spindler novel when I picked up The Other Girl, and I had forgotten that she writes such gripping and entertaining stories! Spindler writes in such a way that her pacing just flows so fluidly that you don’t even realize that half the book is over before you finally look down to see where you are in the book! This was one of those mystery/thriller books that once I picked up that I couldn’t put down until I had read it from cover to cover, which is my favorite kind!
The novel takes place in the small town of Hammond, Louisiana where the main character, Police Detective Miranda Rader is called one night to investigate one of the most gruesome murders she has ever encountered as a police officer. The murder of Richard Stark, the very well-respected English professor from the local college, is not only bloody and horrific but appears to be either a ritualistic or revenge killing. To make matters even more problematic for Miranda and her partner, Jake Billings their victim just happens to be the son of the rich and highly influential local college president, so they are under strict orders by their boss Chief Buddy Cadwell (and friend to Ian Stark) to find the killer as quietly, quickly, and without bringing an iota of scandal to the college.
However, what shocks and haunts Miranda most at the scene of Stark’s murder is not his gruesomely murdered body but what she finds in his belongings—a newspaper clipping about her when she was only fifteen and a tragic crime she reported. A crime no one believed happened because she was from the wrong side of the tracks and already had the reputation for drinking, smoking pot, and lying to get herself out of trouble. It’s been 14 years since she reported this atrocious crime that she claimed happened not only to her but another, so she can’t understand why Stark would have the clipping. Does she know him and not recognize him? Did he know her and have information about that night? Was Stark researching her allegations for the book he was writing? None of it makes any sense to Miranda, but not only does it dredge back all the old memories of that night 14 years ago that she’s never really forgotten but tries to forget, it makes her even more determined to find out who killed Stark and why.
Suddenly though, the investigation goes very badly for Miranda since her fingerprints are found at Stark’s murder scene and another victim is then found dead that she had ties to from that night when she was 15 years old. All eyes begin to look at Miranda as the murderer for both victims just as she begins to figure out exactly what is going on. However, she attempts to prove her suspicions and clear her name even though she must break police procedure and violate the law while doing so. This is one woman who after a decade of staying out of trouble and being known as an upstanding detective suddenly can’t stay out of trouble! But I would have done the same thing in her shoes if I were being framed for two murders and no one believed my side of the story about a crime— again!
The novel seamlessly flows from the events in the present to the events when Miranda was fifteen, so the reader can understand what exactly happened to Miranda that fateful night but can also understand how that night really changed her into the person she is today who firmly believes in truth, justice, and protecting the innocent. There are some great—and not so great—characters in the book, and I think readers will really enjoy getting to know them, especially Miranda, Jake, and Summer. I would really love to see the book made into a series, and I think that would be feasible with the way it ended. There is some romance too, which is always nice thrown into a twisty suspense novel! Most readers will likely figure out the why and who behind the two murders quickly, which is one reason I only gave the book 4 stars. All in all, I definitely recommend The Other Girl if you love your suspense fast-paced, twisted, and full of drama. I can’t wait to read more of Spindler’s books!
**Thank you NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Erica Spindler for an ARC copy of The Other Girl in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. **