My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A riveting police procedural with complex characters and a compelling storyline.
When Detective Laura Drummond was 14 years old, she was attacked by a man in a mask, raped, stabbed six times, and left for dead as she walked home from her first high school dance. Afterward, she was kept in a coma in the hospital for almost a year. Still, Laura eventually awoke, going on to finish school, join the Marines, becoming a successful homicide detective for the Columbus Police Department. However, her adult successes did not erase the impact her tragic childhood had on her.Laura kept her past a closely-held secret, avoiding commitment and shared confidences with any and all, preferring casual one-night hookups in her private life; her best and only friend, Detective Tom Browning, her on-the-job partner.
But her latest case looks horrifically similar to what happened to her all those years ago. Only this time, the victim is not so lucky to survive. Laura can’t help wondering if HE is back.Conceptus, the new mystery by Brian Herskowitz, introduces readers to Detective Laura Drummond, a homicide investigator with a tragic past. The horrific murder of a young co-ed has the detective’s long-suppressed past rearing up to stare her right in her face and make her question what really happened when she was a young, naïve 14-year-old. The author creates a complex, multilayered figure in Drummond (or “Law” as she often called), and as the story unfolds, we see how she became the person she is today. Supporting characters, in particular work partner Detective Tom Browning and potential love interest Sharon, round out the exciting story and smooth out some of Laura’s rough edges.
This complex female character is a damaged loner. She has kept herself from getting too involved with anyone up to this point in her life. Her best friend is her partner at work. She’s been keeping her past buried and living a very solitary existence since leaving her childhood home. There is casual sex in the story, but a wonderful love story is also developing. Laura’s reactions to Sharon and Sharon’s reactions to becoming involved with a homicide detective made for a fascinating subplot.Reading what happened to Laura is not for the faint of heart; it is brutal. It kicks off a riveting plot that involves rape, abuse, bad parents, adoption, the Catholic Church, and kept me reading far into the night; it was that compelling a tale. As the police investigation proceeds, the plot twists and turns and takes the reader places they won’t see coming. I even appreciate that the setting is in Columbus, Ohio, and not L.A., Chicago, or New York City.
For me, Conceptus felt like a great beginning for a new mystery series, though there is no mention of a subsequent book. This may be very wishful thinking, but I hope to read more about Laura, Sharon, and Tom Browning. I recommend Conceptus to mystery readers looking for a harrowing and complex murder mystery story, those who enjoy a grittier police procedural, or LGBTQ+ main characters.I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.
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