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Paynes Creek #1

Death is in the Details

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A woman haunted by her past. A killer who won't let her forget.

Faith Day's condition curses her to recall her mother’s fiery murder like it was yesterday. And when the forensic photographer’s convicted stepbrother is somehow cleared 12 years later and released from prison, Faith wonders if he'll put an end to her tortured memories. But after a string of eerily familiar fires tear through her small town, Faith starts to question every detail of her traumatic past.

Luke Justice won't rest until he catches a notorious serial killer masking his murders in arson. Following a trail of deadly blazes to Faith's doorstep, the FBI agent senses she holds the key to the case. But if he can't convince her to open up, Luke fears he'll miss his best chance to put a psychopath behind bars.

As Faith fights the resurgence of dark emotions, an arsonist begins leaving personal totems in her home. Determined to stay alive, she taps into the only weapon she has against the vicious murderer: the echoes of her childhood nightmare.

Can Faith help Luke unmask the true killer before they both go up in flames?

Death is in the Details is a chilling standalone thriller novel. If you like small-town mysteries, psychological thrillers, and spine-tingling twists, then you'll love Heather Sunseri's latest page-turning tale.

348 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 20, 2019

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About the author

Heather Sunseri

25 books366 followers
Heather Sunseri was raised on a tiny farm in the smallest of towns in thoroughbred horse country near Lexington, Kentucky. After high school, she attended Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, and later graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in accounting. Always torn between a passion for fantasy and a mind for the rational, it only made sense to combine her career in accounting with a novel-writing dream.

Heather now lives in a different small town on the other side of Lexington with her two children, and her husband, Mike, the biggest Oregon Duck fan in the universe. When she’s not writing or working as a CPA, she spends her time tormenting her daughter’s cat, Olivia, and loving on her son’s Golden Retriever, Jenny. MINDSPEAK is her first published novel.

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5 stars
1,068 (45%)
4 stars
854 (36%)
3 stars
322 (13%)
2 stars
61 (2%)
1 star
33 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 146 reviews
Profile Image for Hunter.
141 reviews
July 7, 2020
It was okay. I’m getting to where I can’t trust the majority of goodreads reviews anymore. This had such a high average rating to be disappointed.
Profile Image for Beth.
25 reviews2 followers
May 16, 2019
Ahhhhhhhhhh!!! I REALLY enjoyed this book but now that's it's done I am not sure how to process it all. Faith is a great example of a broken character. The thing with deeply flawed and scarred characters is they are unlikable at times. That's not a bad thing because it makes them real. I felt she grew on me and I understood her better as the story unfolded. Luke, on the other hand, is perfect. There's no other way to describe him. The thrilling suspense was definitely there. The story was well done and an emotional roller coaster. I figured a big part of it out earlier than I would have liked but there were enough twists to keep me reading and wanting more. The end caught me off guard. I'm still not sure what I think but I have a feeling I will be thinking about it for a while. It was a great read and I 100% recommend it. I have followed Heather Sunseri since Mindspeak and she never disappoints.
Profile Image for Sherry Fundin.
1,767 reviews117 followers
June 28, 2022
Death in the Details by Heather Sunseri is the first book in the Payne’s Creek stand alone series.

Faith Day is a forensic photographer, which appealed to me greatly because I love photography. Adds a little something extra to some of my favorite reading genre. She is no stranger to death by fire. Her mother died in a fire and she recalls every single detail with 100% clarity, due to hyperthymesia.

Faith lives in the small town of Payne’s Creek and after 12 years since her mother’s death, the fires in town, it is brought back in vivid detail. Faith has a forensic science degree and her uncle is the Fire Chief, Sam Reid. Her brother Finch is the town vet.

Fire Chief Sam Reid depends on her. She is the best help has has until he can hire a new detective. She sees things others miss.

Faith lives in an Airstream with her guardian cat, that acts more like a dog than a feline. Someone had been in her house, had lit a fire in her firepit. After ten years in prison for the murder of their parents, her step brother had been released due to a technicality. Could he have found her? And…what if it isn’t him?

I love the way Luke Justice describes her, “…when you walk through a room, people watch you. When you exit a room, people whisper. And when you exit a building, people sigh with relief.”

As bodies fall, fires, burn, she’s at the center of it. The pieces come together as she and Luke struggle to figure out what is really going on. Things are not as they appear on the surface and….

I loved the story…and the ending. WOW. It took me a while to figure it out, because there are more suspects than meet the eye. Is it her step brother? Is it him…or him…or…The bigger mystery, who is setting all the fires, is solved and a romance is blooming, but there is more to tell…and I hope to be there. I love when an author can hook me from the beginning and keep the pace at a high level, making it hard to put down.

Profile Image for Gwen Shafer.
1,836 reviews23 followers
July 31, 2019
This is the first book that I have read from Heather. I am hooked. I read what this one was about and wanted more. Getting into the book you know right from the start it is going to be intense and interesting. And that is exactly what this book is. Full of suspense, mystery, shocking twists and turns you never seen coming and a very mind blowing ending. Everything I want in a great book. Heather has gained a fan with this one. Faith is haunted every day by her past. But now more so than just her memory remembering her. She works with the police department taking pictures at crime scenes and lately there appear to be a lot of fires going on in her town. Special Agent Luke Justice comes into town to investigate these fires and opens up even more things for her when he reopens her mother's case. But what makes this even more interesting is the one person put away for her mother's death is let free and is proven to be innocent but is he so innocent? This book had me on the edge of my seat at every turn. It gripped me from the very first fire to the very last word on the very last page. I literally wanted to throw my kindle across the room at the end of this book. I was shocked to find out who the person was that was doing the fires. Heather wrote such an amazing book you have no idea who the person is. Great storyline amazing characters. I absolutely loved the chemistry between Luke and Faith. This is a 10 star book. It was freaking amazing and I highly recommend it. There better be more because I have to know what happens to Faith after reading that ending. I cannot be left hanging like that. Get to one clicking this one I guarantee you will not regret it.
Profile Image for Adrienne.
151 reviews2 followers
May 17, 2019
I have read all of Heather Sunseri's books - and I have to say this one is my favorite. I immediately fell in love with Faith. I loved her grit, humor, and oh gosh just everything else! I thought the characters were very well thought out, and this book had me guessing up until the moment we found out what really happened. I had a guess about half way through, and I was wrong - I LOVED THAT, as looking back over the book, all the hints were there, and I love not guessing the murderer correctly in a book as it means the author did a good job. I loved Luke and Faith's relationship and thought it was well done. Really just an A+ of a book!
Profile Image for Tonya OK.
366 reviews1 follower
May 27, 2020
DNF at 30%. After slogging through the first third of this “thriller,” I give up. I absolutely can’t stand any of the characters and find their behaviour completely implausible and just plain odd. The mystery component just didn’t engage me, and I am yet to see any hint of suspense. Though I hate giving up on books, this one made he feel both bored and a little repulsed.
Profile Image for Lynda Kelly.
2,030 reviews79 followers
November 13, 2020
I hate leaving just the one star but this is so farfetched that it's ridiculous. To think a woman wakes up in her home and there are lit candles surrounding her that SHE didn't light, and she looks outside to see a bloke has lit a fire outside in her garden and she just heads off to work, like it's a normal day, is just bonkers !!
It started with great promise with a terrific first line and also has a lovely cover but sadly goes downhill after that. We're to believe she walks into a police station and the guys there are talking about her and just carry on, and she has nothing to say to them, then the FBI chap brought onto the case is called Special Agent Justice.......for real ??
I recall the actress Marilu Henner explaining the condition she has on TV before and it's fascinating and it's the one also featured here-hyperthymesia. It's really interesting and would've been a great background to the story if it was used better.
I don't like when authors write as people talk....as with, "...you're the best I got to bounce theories off of" but when I packed it in at only 9% I hadn't happened upon any errors, which is good going.
Profile Image for SA Krishnan.
Author 35 books152 followers
July 5, 2020
Excellent thriller!
Faith is a crime scene photographer. But her unique memory creates a huge problem for her.
As a child, her parents were killed and their house was burned down. Faith was herself badly burnt when she had tried to save her parents.
Her step-brother Eli was suspected for the acts and he is even convicted of the same.
However, fourteen years later proof emerges that Eli was not the culprit.
The story goes on about how Faith finds the real killer.
The twists and turns in the story were unpredictable and the suspense in the book was maintained very well.
Thrilling read.
26 reviews1 follower
March 22, 2022
Heather truly outdid herself this time. It was the perfect blend of suspense, sexual tension, mystery, with amazing character dimension. The setting and world she draws is so layered it pulls you in very quickly.

The emotional dynamics are relatable and realistic, and I was nearly blindsided by the outcome. This was by far my favourite book by Heather.i am looking forward to another just like this.
August 1, 2020
This started out fairly good and then I was pretty disappointed to find out I had guessed who did it. Then...I was pleasantly surprised to find out there was more to the story that I hadn’t figured out. But...then...within the last two sentences...it went too far. It went from being ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ to ⭐️⭐️⭐️ to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ back you ⭐️⭐️⭐️. Disappointed and honestly surprised by the overall rating of this one.
Profile Image for Sioms.
153 reviews
May 16, 2019
As always, Heather Sunseri gave my brain quite a workout. I was suspicious of every character. I examined every detail, every word written. The story was told perfectly. I loved everything about the book. I couldn’t get enough, couldn’t read fast enough. Definitely something worthwhile to read.
192 reviews26 followers
August 25, 2020
Please don't get fooled by the average rating for it, like I did, it's an absolute waste of time.
Profile Image for Judi Haley.
1,012 reviews4 followers
July 17, 2019
Loved this one!!

Faith Day can remember every day of her life, this condition is called Hyperthymesia. Unfortunately having this condition can also bring those details back to you so you can never forget them and that is what Faith would love to do. When she was a teenager, her mother and stepfather were killed and the house set on fire. When Faith arrived and tried to go into the house to save them, she was burned badly. She recovered but will have the scars all of life. Her brother was not home that day, but her stepbrother Eli was.

The police are convinced that Eli is the one that did these murders and was sentenced to prison. But after only serving part of his sentenced, evidence was uncovered to prove his innocence and he is released..But now that he is out of prison, there is another family that have been killed and their house set on fire just like Faith's. Is it a coincidence that this started happening once Eli has been released?

Faith is a self-employed forensic photographer and she has the ability of help the local police department solve cases. Now when an FBI agent, Luke Justice comes to their town investigating the latest arson case, Faith has to face her worse memories..Was Eli really innocent? What really happened that night and why is someone stalking her and trying to kill her?

I hope there is a follow up to this book as it did the solve age old case and finally give them the killer, but it leaves you wondering what happens next to Faith!
Profile Image for Cris Antonia.
132 reviews
January 23, 2021
I'm sorry, but I can't trust those reviews, this is NOT a 5 stars book, it's really predictable for a suspense, it's not that bad, but it's bad.
Profile Image for Picky_Book_B1tch.
599 reviews47 followers
June 23, 2021
3.5 Stars

An entertaining mystery thriller but in the end a bit forgettable. I had no emotional connection to the characters or the story itself. I was reading only to figure out the mystery and that part was good, well plotted with some surprising twists. But without an emotional connection, there is no staying power.

I have read other books by this author that I enjoyed far more and I will continue to read her work.
Profile Image for Amber Khan.
515 reviews4 followers
August 4, 2019
Faith's life has been nothing short of tragic. She has managed to keep herself together and secure a job as a contract crime scene photographer.
Years after that terrible night and she still is subject of town gossip. It doesn't help that He is released from prison. Someone is seeking justice on behalf of victims. Someone is watching her.
Is everything as it seems? Is the convicted really guilty? Is her memory right? Why is this all happening?
This is not your typical suspense or thriller story. It is twisted and throws you for a few loops along the way. I love the characters and how easy it was to get caught up in it. There is a bit of romance but not a typical HEA either. Fantastic read.
Profile Image for Kristen Lewendon.
6,616 reviews38 followers
May 18, 2019
My brain is spinning. And that ending? It just not fair to leave us like that. This is psychological thriller at it’s finest. The story bent my mind in so many different directions, I feel like it was turned into an origami crane. Faith is a fascinating lead character. She has perfect recall, but she’s still human. Still prone to mistakes and misconceptions just like the rest of us. Still able to be manipulated by the people around her. I want to know more. About Faith, her family, Luke, even the strange community that makes up Paynes Creek.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.
Profile Image for Cindy.
2,230 reviews134 followers
May 22, 2019
The detail is this is a twist tale. Faith Day has a rare trait that allows her to remember every detail of every day of her life. As a forensic photographer this serves her well but remembering that her step brother killed her mom and his dad and then torched the house almost cripples her with grief at times. Now that her step brother has been released there is a sudden rash of murders/arson happening and someone is stalking Faith. Maybe's Faith's memory of what happened all those years ago isn't as accurate as she thinks. Little by little the clues are not pointing to the obvious suspect – Faith has no idea that her life is about to be turned upside down.
1 review
May 16, 2019
Heather Sunseri has done it again! I love her writing style, the characters she creates and the adventures she takes us on.
I love Faith & Luke. The sexual tension drips from the pages! Twists & turns; love, loyalty and betrayal that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Anxious to reach the end of the story and then hoping the next installment comes next week!!
Profile Image for Abby.
1,309 reviews22 followers
May 17, 2019
Another spellbinding mystery from one of my favorite authors. The best part of all her stories is the blend of romance (and hot tension) and the mystery and suspense. I like that I can not guess the ending of the books before they happen (usually I can) and if I do see something coming it's just before it happens and I am OK with it happening. This book had a compelling story, characters I enjoyed and was fast paced enough that it kept me up late two nights in a row!
Profile Image for Elsa Hoffmann.
158 reviews4 followers
May 19, 2019
Death is in the Details is a page turner with twists you won't see coming.

I really enjoy it when I think one character is guilty and then the story completely goes another way!

Heather Sunseri is excellent in being able to keep the suspense going even to the last page. It's a very raw, emotional story, but it is one hell of a thriller.

I try to review every book of fiction that I read and received a copy of this book from the author. Excellent work, this.

Profile Image for Aleta Meeker.
33 reviews
May 16, 2019
Spellbinding! Heather has done it again!!! Looking for a new series? Look no further!! You have found it. Just when you think you know who done it; bam! you’re wrong!! I only put it down because I had to! At the end you will keep frantically turning pages looking for more!
Profile Image for Cindy Fong.
1,562 reviews
May 19, 2019
Another great psychological thriller story from the mind of Heather Sunseri.

A family torn apart, details remembered, a threat in the air. For Faith Day, everything she believes and knows will be in question, including whom to trust.

I enjoyed following the breadcrumbs of clues to unmask the killer. This was a story that sucked me in til the end.
15 reviews1 follower
May 28, 2020
It was a very nice story. I thought I could predict the ending, but I was so wrong. I could not see it coming. A very good read. I kinda felt bad for Ethan, and also what did he become after the finale revelation?
I can't wait for the next part of this story.
Profile Image for Books by I.
107 reviews4 followers
March 10, 2023
Un libro que me hizo sentir tan sola y cansada.

Death is in the Details sigue la historia de Faith Day, una fotografa forense adjunta al departamento de policía de Paynes Creek, y a Luke Justice, un agente del FBI, que llega al pueblo para ayudar en la investigación de un caso criminal. Este libro es un thriller romántico que funcionaba para mi, pero llego a un punto en donde parecía hacer quedar bien a un violador y que tuviéramos lastima por él.

Dos cosas importantes:
1. Hablare libremente con spoilers, y
2. Esto no es para decirles que no lean el libro, esa es decisión de cada persona.

Como pudimos darnos cuenta desde la sinopsis, Faith es una mujer que durante los últimos años de su adolescencia (16) vivió un acto horrible que marco su vida. El asesinato de su madre y padrastro junto al arresto de su hermanastro, quien fue culpado por el crimen, la llevaron a ser la mujer distante que es hoy en día. En el pueblo todos la señalan y no se a interesado en una relación romántica porque se encuentre lidiando aún con los daños que ocasiono (tanto física como mentalmente) aquella terrible noche y que la catalogan como una mujer atractiva, pero que después todos los hombres la tachan de ser una pe**a fría y que no vale la pena. Agreguemos a ello el síndrome de hipermnésico, la vida de Faith no es nada fácil.

El caso criminal que veremos en el libro es el asesinato de una pareja y la posterior quema de la casa y con los cuerpos dentro, simulando un asesinato por parte del esposo y un suicidio de pareja. Esta es la primera relación que encontramos con el pasado de Faith y en donde veremos por donde va la historia. A ello se sumara Luke, como alguien interesado por un posible pirómano en serie, pero que a la larga nos enteraremos que se encuentra investigando una serie de asesinatos que tienen cosas en común.
Para añadir más fuego al asunto, el hermanos de Faith (Ethan) acaba de salir de la cárcel y el pueblo sospecha que él se encuentra tras de todo, pero las cosas no están nada claras.

El primer punto en donde las cosas comenzaron a hacerme ruido.

El asesinato e incendio que da inicio a esta investigación tiene como precedente un posible caso de estupro entre un maestro de escuela secundaria/preparatoria y su alumna de 17 años.
Este es un tema muy importante que debe de tratarse con respeto y es que muchas veces este tipo de abuso suele minimizarse y ocultarse, llevándose a una conclusión de revictimización y que solo genera más juicio y desprecio. Lamentablemente este libro habla de manera tan vaga e ignorante, que solo lo ocupa para llenar la hoja.
Y es que la primera vez que escuchamos dos posturas nos damos cuenta del trato que existirá. Faith camina entre dos mujeres del pueblo que hablan de la no existencia del delito ya que la chica menor consintió en todo momento y que ya era prácticamente mayor de edad, mientras que la otra dice que existió un abuso y la implicación de la posición de poder, solo que se hace mención a que esta mujer solo lo dice porque es algo "políticamente correcto" de decir y no porque ella no lo crea. Lo cual no esta mal ya que las generaciones anteriores y conservadoras son de esa forma, defendiendo practicas abusivas y diciendo que debes aguantar ese tipo de cosas.
Así que ese lado no estaba mal, pero el problema viene cuando el actuar de Faith es igual al de esa mujer y comienza a presenciarse que lo que leemos de ella es justamente algo incrustado en su dialogo interno porque es lo "correcto" y no porque sea un personaje que crea en ello. Por ejemplo, es como si alguien creara a un personaje que esta rodeada de persona que creen que la tierra es plana, pero ese personaje apoya la idea de que la tierra es redonda solo que conforme vas avanzando te das cuanta que por más que el personaje diga que la tierra es redonda en realidad puedes darte cuenta que no cree eso. Es como si el autor quisiera darnos un personaje que no es lo que aparenta ser.

El quitarle la carga a un violador
Revelando toda la historia...
Sin duda el mayor conflicto con el libro es que quiere limpiar la imagen y darle redención a un violador, solo por el simple hecho de que ya estuvo en la cárcel.
Miles de veces se ve a Faith diciendo que Ethan es inocente y se romantiza en exceso su vida pasada (cuando vivían en familia) queriendo venderlo como un "amor prohibido" de un pobre hombre que no fue correspondido, y es realmente asqueroso tener que leer a un depredador obsesivo y psicópata que veía a su hermanastra como alguien de su propiedad y que en el presente solo se preocupa por él e ignora el daño psicológico que ocasiono en ella.

Me causa demasiado conflicto como este libro quiere plantear el que Faith es una mujer victima de abuso sexual que lucha contra la idea de que su abusador fue alguien de confianza y que tiene esa lucha interna entre los recuerdos buenos y ese acto traumático, pero el libro nunca se plantea la idea de analizar a profundidad la psique de una persona que fue abusada sexualmente. Se nota carente de información respecto al tema, pero quiere aparentar que lo sabe todo. Lo cual termina probando desagrado por no tomar en serio un tema tan importante.

Ethan es un personaje desagradable por cualquier lado que lo veas. Me repugna el saber de él. Ethan es un violador al que nunca debió de darsele un foco o quererlo pintar como alguien bueno, porque su supuesto amor es repulsivo y es el tipo de "amor" que termina en feminicidio.

Realmente no puedo con la idea que quien escribió este libro le quiera dar un rayito de sol y hacernos ver su "parte buena" porque no tiene nada bueno. Y me da mucha lastima que a Faith se le allá hecho como un personaje que tiene cariño por su abusador, que lo defiende y que lo quiere, y no porque la mente humana pueda aceptar ello, sino por la falta de información con la que cuenta la historia.

Personajes e historias

1.- Faith, un personaje que merecía muchísimo más.
2.- Finch, nunca he apoyado la violencia explosiva ni siquiera en los libros, pero aquí daría todo por 3.-defender a Finch y evitar que termine en la cárcel.
4.- El verdadero asesino serial, DATE. Al igual que con Finch, le daría pase libre en todo.
5.- El violador, me da asco y me mata que se siga mencionando en demás libres y que se le de redención.

6.- Luke... voy a aclarar que en este tipo de libro no me importa si solo se dan una mirada y se toman la mano como niños de preescolar o si nos dan todo el romance del mundo, pero Luke como interés romántico es un cero a la izquierda. Y como un personaje en forma debo decir que le falta demasiado desarrollo. Solo es un personaje sirve como móvil en ocasiones y como un poste para recargarte. Es el tipo de papel que solía ocupar la mujer en las películas en donde los hombres eran protagonistas, es la bonita decoración... Es un desperdicio, quitemos a ese personaje y ocupemos su espacio para desarrollar mejor a Faith y convertirla en una mujer que inspire a otras.

Quiten a Luke, Faith es un personaje que no necesita el romance.

Toda la historia respecto al asesino serial decae demasiado, le falta una mejor construcción y si bien el móvil es adecuado la forma en que se presenta y desarrolla se queda corta. Agreguen a ello el final abrupto que tiene el libro... sin duda una historia que pudo ser muchísimo mejor.

El problema con la historia gira en que no sabe incorporar de la mejor manera el tema familiar de Faith, su relación tórrida con Ethan, al asqueroso de Ethan, el asesinato accidental, el encubrimiento de la sociedad ante un abuso y su percepción, la justicia por propia mano... son temas que se sienten demasiado forzados por encajar en un mismo lugar. Y ojo, no es que lo temas no puedan convivir entre ellos, es simplemente que las piezas estas tan mal distribuidas.

La historia y lo que esta dispuesta a ofrecer el libro van por caminos contrarios, lo que ocasiona un trato deficiente a temas como el abuso sexual, abuso sexual infantil, TEPT, alcoholismo, estupro, distribución de contenido explicito de menores, posibles feminicidios, entre otros.

El libro me hizo sentir sola, la forma en que orilla a ver a alguien como no es, en cierto punto hace sentir a la victima como culpable y a olvidar todo... fue una lectura demasiado agotadora.

Lo más gracioso de todo es que en un punto pensé que seria un libro de 4 estrellas y que exploraría el como las victimas de abuso sexual enfrentan el hecho de ser violentadas por personas de confianza...

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