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Bitter Past

(Ellie Matthews #1)

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  167 ratings  ·  55 reviews
From USA Today bestselling author Caroline Fardig comes a gripping new forensic mystery series.

Three years ago, criminalist Ellie Matthews was blindsided when a grisly homicide case suddenly became personal. She abandoned the danger and stress of crime scene investigation for a professorship at a posh private college and never looked back.

Now, Ellie’s pleasant world is s
Published September 5th 2017 by Self-published
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4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  167 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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Linda Strong
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Bitter Past is a treat for lovers of not only mystery/suspense/crime, but especially for those who love the forensic aspects of a murder investigation.

Ellie Matthews is a well-known criminalist who walked away from her profession when it became very personal. She is now happily teaching at a local college.

Ellie's life turns topsy-turvy when she finds the murdered body of a young female student. It gets even worse when one of her colleagues is accused of the crime. And then there is a second murd
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) provided by the Author and Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an fair and honest review.

I am so excited about this book. Caroline Fardig is the author of the wonderful cozy mystery series, "Java Jibe", and is branching out to mystery - thriller territory. I really enjoyed this book. Ellie has a lot of quirks and has a backstory that will make you cry. She also has terrible taste in men, a fault she shares with her sister. In fact, Ellie reminds me of another ficti
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018
“Bitter Past”earns 5+/5 Headlines…Mystery Thriller Extraordinaire!

Activism and vandalism often go hand in hand like mystery and murder. A young woman adamant to stop plans by Ashmore College’s Dr. Dudley Cooper to set up a “body farm” for forensic research decides to take her protest to ground zero. She and a companion paint signs of protest, using pig’s blood for dramatic effect, at Carnival Cove, an abandoned amusement park purchased by the professor. But, the ear-spitting crack, the excruciat
Mary Brown
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bitter Past
An Ellie Matthews Novel, Book #1
Caroline Fardig
5 Stars


From USA Today bestselling author Caroline Fardig comes a gripping new forensic mystery series.

Three years ago, criminalist Ellie Matthews was blindsided when a grisly homicide case suddenly became personal. She abandoned the danger and stress of crime scene investigation for a professorship at a posh private college and never looked back.

Now, Ellie’s pleasant world is shattered when she finds the dead body of a female s
Debbie Oxier
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I found a new author, someone I'd never read before, and she's definitely one I want to continue reading. Bitter Past was also set in Indiana, another positive as its my home state and you don't find too many of those around.

Ellie Matthews used to be a criminalist until one particularly nasty case caused her to walk away. Now she is teaching the subject at Ashmore College and living nearby. When she finds the dead body of a female student, as a favor to the local Sheriff, she agrees to consult
Meg Muldoon
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book! Ellie is a strong, highly likable main character with a lot of wit and intelligence. The plot twists were great and the ending a complete surprise. I was also very impressed by the extensive research the author must have done to write this book! The subject matter was also very unique and original. Well done, Caroline! I can't wait to read Book 2!!
Jennifer McLean
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery, police procedural, criminology, forensics
“Bitter Past” by Caroline Fardig is the first book in the author’s newest series about a former criminalist who left her position with the Sherrif’s department under mysterious circumstances. Ellie Mathews has a quiet life as a professor an upscale private Collage. When her friend and fellow colleague becomes a person of interest and is taken into custody for the murder of a student at their collage, Ellie is persuaded to consult with the Sheriff’s department again. Back at her old stomping grou ...more
Mary Brown
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bitter Past
An Ellie Matthews Novel, Book #1
Caroline Fardig
5 Stars


From USA Today bestselling author Caroline Fardig comes a gripping new forensic mystery series.

Three years ago, criminalist Ellie Matthews was blindsided when a grisly homicide case suddenly became personal. She abandoned the danger and stress of crime scene investigation for a professorship at a posh private college and never looked back.

Now, Ellie’s pleasant world is shattered when she finds the dead body of a female s
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was supremely captivating right from the very start. The plot line was absolutely riveting, and there were just enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. Ellie was a character with so many layers and complexities whom you could not help but to feel for. It was easy to experience her happiness, fears, sorrows and triumphs with her, as if she were a long time, trusted friend. The story line moved at just the right pace and kept you engaged with loads of nail-biting suspense and pulse ...more
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really loved reading this book. Mystery, suspense and crime story and the first book in this series. Lots of twist and turns Caroline Fardig did it again. If you haven’t ready another of her other books please do they won’t disappoint.

In this series we are introduced to Ellie Matthews a former criminologist who left for personal reasons and became a professor in forensic anthropology department. When a murder strikes the university she is working at she finds herself in the middle of what she
Tamsen Schultz
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent blend of a more traditional police procedure (more specifically, evidence processing) with a character driven mystery. I immediately ordered the next and am looking forward to reading more about Ellie
Barbara Hackel
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ellie Matthews is a college forensic criminology professor, former criminalist for the police department, and somewhat of a mystery person. She is thrust into a college related murder when her associate takes her to the site of his new "body farm" to discuss improvements. While there, Ellie smells death and discovers a student who has been murdered at the site. Before long her colleague is implicated in the murder. All too soon a second student is found dead in a dorm room of a supposed suicide, ...more
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
4 and 1 / 2 stars

Professor Ellie Matthews, a former forensic scientist, and her associate, Dr. Dudley Cooper find a dead body in the former park that is now to be Cooper’s outdoor forensic anthropology site – or body farm. Cooper reacts surprisingly distressed at the murder of one of the students, a Vasti Marais who was a student at Ashmore College, the same college where the two teach.

At the scene, she is interviewed by Detective Nick Baxter. He seems kind, intelligent and listens seriously to
Kristine (The Writer's Inkwell)
Review was originally posted on The Writer's Inkwell

This is the first book of the Ellie Matthews series and I have to admit it was a surprising change of pace for this author.  The previous series I read was a humorous cozy mystery, while this book has a more serious murder mystery vibe.  This serious tone allows the author to move more into the crime mystery genre, without carrying the burden of needing to remain light hearted or humorous.  The author has done a great job of establishing a new
Lara Baker
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received an advanced reader's copy of this book through Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

As someone who has read every one of Ms. Fardig's other works, I was very excited for this new series. "Bitter Past" is her darkest work yet, but is still a quick and casual read.

The main character is a former criminologist who left her job under unknown circumstances and became a teacher in criminology at a local college. Circumstances involving one of her closest friends, the
Laura Marie
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received this book from netgalley in exchange for a review.
I really enjoyed this book! I have read all of Caroline Fardig's books so when I saw that she had a new series I was very eager to read it. It is very different from her other books although it does have some similarities. Bitter Past is about solving a murder but gives you the police perspective on it with the main character, Ellie, being a criminalist consulting on the case. I enjoyed this perspective and also felt like I learned a l
Jennifer Ritter
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Bitter Past is the first in Caroline Fardig's new Ellie Matthews novel series. Ellie Matthews left her position as a criminalist three years prior to this story, trading the stress and danger of police work for the safety of a professorship at a prestigious private college. With the appointment as administrative assistant for the proposed college "body farm", things are looking good for Ellie.

That is until she discovers the body of a student protestor on the "body farm" grounds. This draws her b
Lorraine Kraft
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
From the author of the Java Jive and Lizzie Hart Cozy Mysteries, comes the new Ellie Matthews mystery series. 

Ellie Matthews gave up her career as a criminalist when  a gruesome case became personal. When Ellie finds a student murdered, the campus is in chaos, students are scared, gossip is flowing and news reporters are circling for a story. After a close friend and colleague becomes the prime suspect, Ellie has to distance herself from the situation.  Then another suspicious death occurs, and
Niken Widyastuti
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was honestly surprised to see this book. From the blurb, I could see that this is quote a dark book, not something that Caroline Fardig usually published. However, as she’s one of my favourite author, and a darker suspense is also in my alley, I gave this book a try.

One, it was much darker than Ms. Fardig usually wrote. However, it still had the same characteristics you’ve come to expect in her books. Witty inner-thoughts, dash of (dark) humor, strong heroine, and unfinished love story. The ma
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love reading mystery books. I read a lot of cozy mystery books, and I also read other mysteries. Though Caroline Fardig does write cozy mystery books, this one isn’t a cozy. It’s got humor and great characters, but it’s also got elements that cozy mystery books don’t.

Ellie Matthews is a great character who gets caught up in a murder mystery when her former boss asks for her help in solving a murder…the second murder of a student at the college where Ellie is a professor. Even though Ellie does
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Police Procedural With Great Forensics

I enjoyed reading this well-written book with a retired police criminalist MC, who now works as a professor teaching introductory forensics and criminalistics courses at Ashmore College. Ellie Matthews is a strong, complex character with some rough edges and a dark past to make her interesting. Persuaded to act as a police consultant on a difficult murder case, she soon finds herself at a complex murder scene in a college student’s room, ankle deep in eviden
Amanda McGill
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgallery, 2017
I really enjoy Caroline Fardig's Java Jive mystery, so when I got an email about her new novel, Bitter Past, I had to request it.

Ellie was in the police force as a criminalist until one case became too many and she became a professor at the local collage. One day, she and another professor stumble upon a student's body at a facility that the university had just purchased. The police department hires Ellie as a consultant.

I liked how Ellie was a criminalist, since I don't read too many books tha
Susan Johnston
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Princess Fuzzypants here:
Caroline Fardig has done it again. This is the first of what I hope is a long series. I love Ellie Matthews. She is a strong and capable but she has some skeletons in her closet that get in her way, both in the career she has chosen after leaving law enforcement and the case on which she is asked to consult.
Her childhood was grim to say the least. It doesn't help as she goes through the forensic evidence at the scenes of two murders. Complicating things further is one o
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Ellie Matthews is a busy college professor teaching in the forensics department. Her former endeavor was as a criminologist for the police department. Crime drama with two student murders to investigate lures Ellie to consult with law enforcement when she discovers one of the bodies. Past pains, current friendships, and pigs blood drench Ellie in events that drive the reader to keep turning the pages. Interesting and fleshed characters team with Caroline Fardig's detailed occurrences make for an ...more
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fans of Fardig's previous series be warned: while there's humor here, both the story and the heroine are much darker than what we've seen before. Ellie Matthews had a hellish early life and worked hard to be a success, both professionally and personally. But demons keep resurfacing to drag her back, and the reader slowly realizes how truly tormented she is. Nothing about her life ties up in a pretty bow at the end, and we can only hope future installments lead her to a little peace.

While Fardig'
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed Bitter Past. I have read several of Caroline Fardig's Java Jive series and liked each of those books as well but Bitter Past is very different and in my opinion much better. While the Java Jive is more of a cozy mystery series Bitter Past is more of a hard core criminal thriller. Ellie Matthews left the sheriff's office years ago and has been working as a college professor teaching forensics at a small local college. When one of her colleagues wants to open a "body farm" of sort ...more
Black Butterfly

Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-it, have-read
Ellie Matthews quit her job with the Sheriff's office as a forensic specialist when a case became too personal for her. She now teaches at the local college. Then a student is found dead at a theme park that was suppose to become a "bone yard" for forensic students. Her old boss Sheriff Jayne asks her to help out with the forensics part of the case when another student is found dead. Things get complicated when Ellie becomes involved with one of the body guards of the accused killer's father. Th ...more
4.5 This is the first book I have read by Caroline Fardig , I received it through Author XP Elite Readers Program. I love all suspense, most thrillers and immediately asked for a copy based on the blurb. I am so pleased I did, and that I was fortunate enough to receive one. This is a great first novel in this series. I immediately felt like Ellie was real, yes I know they are all real to writers, to me they are stories that take me away. I felt like I could run into Ellie. There were twists, tur ...more
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Complex characters seem simple on the surface but as the story progresses their pasts reveal painful hurts.

Ellie Matthew's teaching job at Ashmore College allows her regular hours and a steady emotional life teaching future criminalists how to do their jobs.

Det Nick Baxter is adamant Ellie returns as a criminalist to solve the murder of student Eli Vanover. That it ties into the earlier murder of student Vasti Marais is not yet established because Ellie met with Vasti hours before she was murder
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CAROLINE FARDIG is the USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR of the Java Jive Mysteries series and the Lizzie Hart Mysteries series. Fardig's BAD MEDICINE was named one of the "Best Books of 2015" by Suspense Magazine. She worked as a schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and ...more
“wind whirled the fallen leaves and discarded trash littering the entrance to the old water park. As a young man approached the looming gate, an eerie chill snaked down his spine. “This place is creepy as hell,” he muttered, shining his flashlight on the weathered sign. “You sure you want to do this?” The young woman who had coerced him into coming out here ripped the lid from the plastic bucket she was holding. “Dr. Cooper needs to take notice that the students of Ashmore College are not going to stand for this new research facility of his. You heard how smug he sounded at the protest tonight. He thinks he can get away with anything just because his mother is president of the college. Someone has” 1 likes
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