Caz's Reviews > The Girl in the Moss

The Girl in the Moss by Loreth Anne White
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really liked it
bookshelves: mystery-thriller, 4-and-a-half-stars

4.5 stars

In this final instalment in her trio of novels featuring Angie Pallorino , Loreth Anne White delivers another compulsively readable, complex mystery that hooks your interest from the get-go and gradually tightens its grip until you literally can’t put the book down.   It’s like reading a snowball; an impactful start sees it start rolling down the hill, gradually getting larger as it picks up and encompasses other clues, plot-threads and information and travels faster and faster until it hits bottom to reach an explosive and immensely satisfying dénouement.  Here, that snowball starts rolling when former detective Angie Pallorino and her boyfriend, Detective James Maddocks are taking a four day trip down the Nahamish River on a quiet, romantic getaway.  It’s been a tough few months for Angie, who was busted down to a desk job after she was judged to have used excessive force to take down a serial killer.  Furious and frustrated, Angie broke the twelve-month probation imposed upon her and went rogue, continuing to work on the case of the bar-code girls (in book two, The Lullaby Girl), which also led her to her discovering the truth about her parentage and true identity as the daughter of a sex-trafficker and major crimelord.  Unable to return to the job she loved, Angie is trying to pick up the pieces of her life, and is now working towards getting her PI license, but given the intense publicity generated by the news of her identity, her backstory as the “angel’s cradle baby” and her part in bringing down a major sex-trafficking ring, there are almost no PI agencies willing to hire her (she’s too high-profile) so she can get the required number of hours under her belt she needs before she can branch out on her own.

Things between Angie and Maddocks are uncertain, too.  He’s the golden boy of the Metro Victoria PD and has been appointed to head up a prestigious new task-force while she is struggling to find out who she is if she isn’t a cop.  She knows she loves Maddocks and wants to be with him, but Angie is subconsciously pulling back – and Maddocks knows her well enough to realise it but is worried that she’ll run if she gets the chance.  Their relationship isn’t in the best place, but they hope that a little time spent together with nothing to interrupt or distract them will get them back on track.  Unfortunately, that is not to be when on their last night at the camp, a skeleton is found near the banks of the river.  It’s going to be the morning before local law-enforcement can get to such a remote location and secure the scene, so Maddocks and Angie spend what should have been a romantic evening, complete with gourmet dinner, wine and hot tub, camped out next to a crime scene.

The remains are eventually identified as belonging to a young woman named Jasmine Gulati who died while on a fishing trip on the Nahamish some twenty-four years earlier.  She had been part of a group of women anglers who were taking part in a documentary being filmed by Rachel Hart, who had chosen her subjects to be from different walks of life and in different stages of their lives.  Much as the producers of shows like Big Brother do today, Rachel had hoped that their differences would produce interesting viewing – but after Jasmine’s death, the project was canned and the documentary never appeared.

A while later, Angie is surprised to receive a phone call from a retired judge, Jilly Monaghan, who explains that Jasmine was her granddaughter and offers Angie a large fee if she will find out what really happened to her.  Her death has been ruled accidental, but the judge wants to know if that is really the case or not; either way, she wants the closure that knowing the truth will bring.

Angie’s investigation soon leads her to suspect that Jasmine’s death wasn’t an accident at all, and as she digs deeper, she exposes the web of secrets, lies and conspiracies that have lain buried in the small community of Port Ferris for almost twenty five years.  The mystery is gripping; tightly constructed and incredibly well-written, and the author makes fantastic use of her wilderness setting, which is both beautiful and terrifying, at the same time brilliantly conveying the insular nature of a small, close-knit community such as this one.  The men resent Angie and what they see as her interference, and are prepared to do whatever it takes to protect their own.  It would be easy to laugh at this unsophisticated group of ‘hillbillies’ but no, they’re actually extremely disturbing and Angie is in real danger, probably more than she’s ever been, considering that she’s no longer a cop and doesn’t have the weight of authority behind her – or a gun.

There’s an intriguing secondary plotline in which Maddocks sets up a new cold case unit placing Angie’s former partner, Kjel Holgerson, at its head.  This storyline serves to bring us back neatly to some of the events of The Drowned Girls, but it also opens up the possibility of more stories set in this ‘universe’;  I would certainly not be averse to reading more about the enigmatic and oddly endearing Holgerson.  I also liked the author’s subtle exploration of the ethics of cold cases; in a situation such as this one, where one family needs closure, another is ripped apart, so it’s difficult – or impossible – to achieve a balance.  But Angie is, as ever, focused on finding the truth, no matter how hard it is.  Her own experiences have taught her that it’s better to know and deal than to deny, and ultimately, the needs of justice have to be served.

My one niggle about the book is that Maddocks is (necessarily) MIA for almost all of it, even though there’s no question he’s a huge presence in Angie’s life and her desire to come to him as a woman who knows who she is and where she’s going is the impetus for her becoming involved in the Gulati case.  Still, the brief glimpses we get of their relationship are well done, and while I’d have liked a bit more of them together, I think they needed the short separation in order to remind one another of exactly what they have together.

A complex, atmospheric thriller with a pervading sense of menace, especially in the second half, The Girl in the Moss is a terrific finale to a terrific series, and I really hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Angie, Maddocks, Holgerson - and Jack-O.
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Reading Progress

December 18, 2017 – Shelved
December 18, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
June 8, 2018 – Started Reading
June 10, 2018 –
60.0%
June 10, 2018 – Shelved as: mystery-thriller
June 10, 2018 – Shelved as: 4-and-a-half-stars
June 10, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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Hollis constantly amused by the fact that we disagree on 80% of our reads, haha. <3


message 2: by Caz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Caz Hollis wrote: "constantly amused by the fact that we disagree on 80% of our reads, haha. <3"

It's kinda weird... but always interesting!


Blackjack Nice review, Caz, and one in which I largely agree. I did not miss Maddock here as much as I would have thought, but I suspect it is because Angie's story of independence was so gripping that the romance seemed less interesting. Like you I do want to read more of Kjel and am hoping that more books will be coming.


message 4: by Caz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Caz Blackjack wrote: "Nice review, Caz, and one in which I largely agree. I did not miss Maddock here as much as I would have thought, but I suspect it is because Angie's story of independence was so gripping that the r..."

I've thought since the first book that there was a lot more to Holgerson and that he was deliberately enigmatic... I would love to find out more about him and why he's the way he is. Plus, I can't believe the plotline about the cold case unit is just going to be left hanging...


message 5: by Hollis (last edited Jun 12, 2018 03:05PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Hollis Plus, I can't believe the plotline about the cold case unit is just going to be left hanging...

right!? this was my biggest issue.


message 6: by Caz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Caz Hollis wrote: "Plus, I can't believe the plotline about the cold case unit is just going to be left hanging...

right!? this was my biggest issue."


I'll be really surprised if LAW doesn't follow up on it.


Blackjack She has to!! I just refuse to believe that she would go to such lengths to create so many unresolved details and leave them hanging!


message 8: by CLM (new) - rated it 3 stars

CLM I enjoyed this but found Angie kind of unpleasant. Then I went back to read the first book and liked her even less. I do agree that cold cases lead to fascinating stories with lots of complexity.


message 9: by Mei (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mei Great review, Caz! :)
I loved it too! And I'm hoping the author will dedicate a book to Kjel! I'm curious to discover his story! :)


message 10: by Caz (last edited Jun 13, 2018 05:31AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Caz CLM wrote: "I enjoyed this but found Angie kind of unpleasant. Then I went back to read the first book and liked her even less. I do agree that cold cases lead to fascinating stories with lots of complexity."

Yes, Angie isn't the most likeable of heroines when we first meet her, but I had to admire her guts and determination.


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