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The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
Thriller

The Book of Cold Cases

3peat author

Simone St. James is officially a 3-time author at BOTM, which is a pretty big deal!

by Simone St. James

Excellent choice

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Quick take

A perfect read for every true crime fan who suspected they might just get to the bottom of things better than the pros.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Supernatural

    Supernatural

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Unreliable

    Unreliable narrator

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Movieish

    Movieish

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SuburbanDrama

    Suburban drama

Synopsis

In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect—a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.

Oregon, 2017. Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases—a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes.

They meet regularly at Beth’s mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she’s not looking, and she could swear she’s seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn’t right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Book of Cold Cases.
The Book of Cold Cases

CHAPTER ONE

Claire Lake, Oregon

The Greer mansion sat high on a hill, overlooking the town and the ocean. To get to it from downtown, you had to leave the pretty shops and the creaking seaside piers and drive a road that wound upward, toward the cliffs. You passed the heart of Claire Lake, the part of town where the locals lived and the tourists didn’t usually go. You passed a grid of shops and low apartment blocks, local diners and hair salons. On the outskirts of town, you passed newer developments, built between the foot of the cliffs and the flat land on the edge of the inland lake that gave the town its name.

The land was too wet and rocky to keep building, so the newer developments tapered off into woods and two-lane roads. Along the west edge of the lake were homes built in the seventies, squat shapes in brown brick and cream siding, the gardens neatly kept for over forty years by people who had never moved away. Past those houses, around the other edges of the lake, there was nothing but back roads, used only by hikers, hunters, fishermen, and teenage kids looking for trouble. In the seventies, the houses along the lake were for the up-and-coming ones, the people with good jobs. Everyone else lived in town. And if you were rich, you lived on the hill.

The road climbed on the north side of the lake. The houses were set far apart here for privacy, and the roads were kept narrow and uneven, as if trying to keep outsiders away. The wealthy had come to Claire Lake in the twenties, when the town was first created, looking for a place that was scenic, secluded, and cheap to build big houses. They brought their money from Portland and California and settled in. Some of the houses sat empty after the stock market crash, but they filled up again during the boom after World War II. The people who lived here called the neighborhood Arlen Heights.

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Why I love it

“On the lawn, something moved across the surface of the grass. The touch of a footprint. Inside the house, one of the cupboard doors opened in the dark kitchen, groaning softly into the silence.” Do you have chills? Because I have chills. Within the first few pages, from which I pulled this delicious quote, I was hooked. Spooky suspense is a whole vibe and no one serves it up quite like Simone St. James.

Her latest novel stars Shea Collins, who is a receptionist by day and by night runs the true-crime website, The Book of Cold Cases. Some—like her sister—might call her obsession with murder unhealthy, but for Shea, it’s her strange way of coping with a traumatic event from her childhood. When an infamous, alleged murderess enters the doctor’s office where she works, Shea manages to score the interview of a lifetime, and a chance to solve Claire Lake’s infamous Lady Killer murders once and for all. Unfolding in parallel is the story of beautiful, wealthy Beth Greer, an orphan, who in the late 1970s was accused of killing two men in cold blood and later acquitted, but never in the court of public opinion. What really happened? Only Beth knows what Shea is determined to find out, even if it means braving a house where strange voices speak from the darkness and blood runs from the faucets.

This isn’t my first Simone St. James book, but it might be my favorite. She’s like a Michelin chef who knows how to season the dish without overpowering it. In my opinion, there’s nothing more fun than being the perfect amount of scared while reading a book, and St. James always strikes the right balance, pairing her haunting prose with gorgeous atmosphere, a compelling mystery, and magnetic female leads.

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Member ratings (40,653)

  • Meghan N.

    Peoria, AZ

    So, so good! Such a great story and characters. I couldn’t tell if I liked Beth or hated Beth, it varied from time to time. I loved Shea’s determination and the twists and turns throughout. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Kaytlyn S.

    Fountain, NC

    There is nothing I could find that was wrong with this book. Pacing was perfect, storyline was perfect, the little hint of supernatural was just **chef’s kiss**. Everything was just perfect!⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Amanda S.

    Cedar Grove, WI

    I really enjoyed this one, the dramatic banter between Shea and Beth, the hunt for the truth from the start. How Shea developed as a character to take on the story. loved how this played out⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Ciara R.

    Bronx, NY

    Had this book sitting unread for a while and I wish I read it sooner! The journey through this murder mystery was incredible. Perfect balance of true crime and spooky haunted house vibes. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Kali K.

    Easthampton , MA

    This is the third book I’ve read from Simone St. James and I’ve loved all them! The book was good right from the beginning but once I got half way through I couldn’t put it down. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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