Review: The Wicked Hour

The Wicked Hour (Natalie Lockhart #2) by Alice Blanchard
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: 1 December 2020
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Police Procedural
Find it on: Amazon, Goodreads

The perfect book for post-Halloween fall melancholy, The Wicked Hour captures the crispness of the season in Burning Lake while pulling you along for a melodic page-turning mystery.

Natalie is still reeling from catching the notorious Crow Killer when she’s called to the scene of a girl’s body in a dumpster. There are no signs of foul play. There is no obvious cause of death. There is no sign that anyone was in the alley with her when she crawled into the dumpster. But the girl’s similarity to Natalie’s missing best friend–one who has been lost since childhood–make Natalie think it was more than just a Halloween party overdose. And as she digs into the case she realizes she might be on the heels of yet another serial killer.

“In music, there was no such thing as perfect timing, she’d once read–music skipped random beats once in a while.”

I stepped into this book without having read the first in the series, A Trace of Evil, but Blanchard does an excellent job of providing just enough detail that I never felt lost while teasing the plot of book one. With so many mystery/detective series to choose from, it’s nice to have one you can jump into without committing to a whole backlist until you’re sure you’ll love it.

The Wicked Hour centers around the world of professional violinists and the mystery feels as melodic. Her pacing is spot on, the mystery starts out sonorous and slow, building to a crescendo and false leads and red-herring suspects, before crashing into its final movement in the conclusion. I found myself reading faster the further into the story I got, and my only complaint was that the ending seemed a touch too rushed. I would have preferred a slightly more drawn out conclusion, but it was still satisfying.

As a police procedural, Blanchard doesn’t get too tied down by process. All the steps are there, but she doesn’t dwell on the minutiae of police work or investigation itself. Detective Lockhart is left to explore and follow clues on her own without too many pages spent tracking down search warrants or listening to the medical examiner. There are a few scenes of gore and jump-scare style reveals, all working to give this story a cinematic quality that would translate well if Netflix decides it needs another crime drama.

Overall a read that’s well worth your time. I’ll be going back to read A Trace of Evil, and you still time to pick up book number one before The Wicked Hour comes out in December!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read it? Liked it? Adding it to your TBR list? Let me know in the comments!

I received a galley of this book for review purposes

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