A Florida prison chaplain with investigative experience reopens an ice-cold case that will change his life forever.
John Jordan’s troubles start with a phone request to rescue his drunken brother, Jake, from a bar. Jake used to be a deputy for his father, Jack Jordan, sheriff of Potter County. When Jack lost his re-election bid, both father and son were thrown out of work and feeling lost. But Jack has kept himself busy looking at cold cases, most recently the matter of beautiful, popular high school senior Janet Leigh Lester, whose car was found soaked in blood but whose body was never found. John’s relations with his whole family, especially his father, have been difficult, but when he learns that Jack has cancer, he agrees to help him review the case, which scarred many lives. Jack suspected but could never prove that Janet was a victim of Ted Bundy, who was rampaging through northern Florida at the time and was even spotted at a gas station where Janet stopped the night of her disappearance. Many thought her boyfriend, Ben Tillman, was the real killer, protected because his father, the sheriff of Jackson County, called on his friend Jack to take over the case. Nobody has a bad thing to say about Janet. Her friends loved her; her stepfather, Ronnie Lester, thought she was an angel; she helped Verna, her frail mother, care for Ralphie, her mentally and physically disabled brother; and she was active in school, church, and the 4-H club. Her death left behind a group of people torn by suspicion and guilt. Despite the difficulties involved in solving a 40-year-old case, John is determined to help his father, unaware of how high the price will be.
Set aside a block of time to read the 12th in Lister’s series (Blood Oath, 2016, etc.), for it may be impossible to put down. Conflicted characters and a shocking solution add up to an enthralling experience.