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The First Death


The First Death

Rowan Wolff and her dog, Thor, are well known in Deschutes County, Oregon, as miracle workers when it comes to tracking scents. For Rowan, there is good reason she does this. At five years old, she and her brother, Malcolm, were abducted and held in horrific conditions, tortured and abused. But only after their babysitter was murdered. Rowan somehow managed to escape, but Malcolm didn’t make it. His remains were never found.

By some small miracle, the man who kidnapped them was caught and put behind bars. But he has continually refused to divulge where Malcolm’s body is. Twenty-five years later, Rowan still searches for her brother every year on his birthday. She vows never to give up on bringing him home.

"THE FIRST DEATH was certainly hard to put down. I’m confident that finding Malcolm will become an obsession with readers, as it did for me."

Then a couple of campers come upon a body in the forest, and Deschutes County detective Evan Bolton catches the case. Right off, he’s surprised when a piece of evidence leads him to Rowan. The victim is a man she knew. As the case progresses, clues lead him to wonder if there’s a connection to the murders 25 years ago. The deeper the cops dig, the more puzzling the case becomes. Why do so many roads lead back to Rowan? When bones are discovered in the woods that include those of a child, she absolutely insists on being part of the investigation. Could it be that they found Malcolm at last?

These recent murders eerily resemble the ones from all those years ago. But if the man who killed Rowan’s babysitter and snatched her and her brother is still in prison, he can’t be guilty of these crimes. So do they have a copycat at work? Or did he have an accomplice? Rowan recalls just one man, but remember, she was only five years old. Still, the scars run deep. Involved as she is, she senses something bigger is afoot here.

Evan tends to agree, but his opinion may be colored by feelings he’s developing for Rowan. He suspects that she also might have feelings for him. But how can he protect her? The girl who was so terribly broken at such an early age has grown into a fierce woman. Stopping her from going after whoever has done this will be difficult, if not impossible. Especially when someone else in her family is threatened.

The wilderness in Central Oregon hides many secrets. There are vast empty spaces all around, and bones occasionally show up, as they do in THE FIRST DEATH. Will one set of those bones out there belong to Malcolm? The answer comes with a big surprise. Rowan’s stubborn doggedness just might pay off, ensuring that good overcomes evil. Capturing the men who did these awful things couldn’t be more important. They prey on children, as they preyed on Rowan and her brother. So now she deserves answers. Fortunately, Evan is the right person to give her those answers. But will he be able to give her a happy ending?

Kendra Elliot certainly brings you action on every page, and I think you’ll find the ending to be satisfying. THE FIRST DEATH was certainly hard to put down. I’m confident that finding Malcolm will become an obsession with readers, as it did for me.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on July 1, 2023

The First Death
by Kendra Elliot

  • Publication Date: June 13, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 317 pages
  • Publisher: Montlake
  • ISBN-10: 1542006821
  • ISBN-13: 9781542006828