When a death among the close-knit Appalachian Irish Travellers nearly goes unnoticed, it’s up to one of their own to shed light on the matter . . .
Not long after donning the uniform of the McCreary County Sheriff's department in Bone Gap, Tennessee, ex-Marine Brynn Callahan is sent to investigate the remains of a body discovered in a nearby cave. She never expected to recognize the victim—a fellow Traveller, Maura Keene.
After Brynn and her K-9, Wilco, find evidence leading her to question those closest to her, solving the case becomes a deeply personal matter. To find justice for a woman not unlike herself, Brynn must put her career on the line and her life at risk . . .
Praise for Splintered Silence
“Furlong’s beautiful prose immerses you in the fascinating world of the Irish Travellers.”
“Brynn and her war-injured dog are characters readers will root for.”
“Well-crafted and deeply moving … you’ll fall in love with Wilco, one of the most compelling dogs to ever appear in fiction.”
“One of the top 25 books of the year.”
—The Strand Magazine
About the Author
Susan Furlong launched her Bone Gap Travellers series with the acclaimed novel Splintered Silence. She is the author of several previous novels and a contributor to the New York Times bestselling Novel Idea series, under the pen name Lucy Arlington. Raised in North Dakota, she graduated from Montana State University. She and her family live in central Illinois. Visit her on Facebook or at www.susanfurlong.com.
Read an Excerpt
I blinked, shook my head, and blinked again. Either I'd had too much whiskey, or a headless chicken hung before me.
My eyes skimmed the skeletal tree branches bent with the weight of not just one, but several shriveled carcasses, their scrawny legs tethered together, claws curled under, white wings limp and splayed outward like the mangled helicopter blades I'd witnessed in Iraq combat zones. Underneath each, blood pitted the white snow, pooling in spots and seeping outward in spidery pink veins.
This sight would've sobered anyone.
"Sick bastards," I said, not that my dog could hear me. Both maimed and rendered deaf by an IED, Wilco relied solely on his eyes and nose. Right now, his nose flared and twitched, as he strained against his lead. Wilco was a human-remains-detection canine. He had no interest in dead chickens.
That meant one thing: He'd found the scent line to a dead body.
My insides rolled with dread as I took a deep breath and brought the radio to my mouth. "I think we've got the location. Take the north branch until you see the first fork. Go left and continue about a quarter of a mile. You should see my tracks leaving the trail. I'm on the ridge east of Higgins Falls."
As I spoke, the nylon cord of Wilco's lead pulled taut and bit into my other palm. I pocketed my radio and focused on my dog. He lifted his black snout to fill his lungs with tainted air as he tottered on three legs, no longer letting his injury hold him back. Wish I could say the same. I rotated my left shoulder, and the burn scars that marred half my body pulled the skin tight. But those scars I could hide. Others weren't so easy.
Wilco let loose a low, mournful whine.
"Hold on, boy." I leaned down and gave him a pat. He shook with excited anticipation of a successful find.
The 911 call had come in a couple of hours ago. A cross-country skier found a mutilated female body in a small cave off the trail. He was too repulsed to give much more information, not even the exact location, and hundreds of small caves dotted the rocky ridges along this branch of the Appalachian Trail. So Wilco and I were immediately dispatched for search and recovery.
Not many could stomach unearthing stiff and bloodied cadavers. But, thanks to Uncle Sam, I'd been conditioned for this type of work. Back in the war, at the height of combat, there was a great need for a "cleanup crew" or "bone patrol" or whatever lingo they'd thought up at the time. And we took that need seriously, doing what we could to find our soldiers, no matter how ugly it got. And it was always ugly. Extreme desert heat quickly transformed dead bodies into swollen, stinking carrion. Now, in a true-glutton-for-punishment fashion, I'd signed up for doing that task again. This was my first homicide since taking the oath as one of McCreary County's finest three months ago.
Backtracking a little, I secured Wilco's leash to a tree, double-checking a couple times to make sure he couldn't get loose. He immediately began working himself into a frenzy, turning around and around, his nose low to the ground at first, then raising upward, high into the air, as if he was scooping up the scent. It felt almost cruel to hold him back from his quarry, not to allow him to achieve his ultimate goal of locating and alerting me to the dead body. But in the military, we knew the cause of death: bombs, bullets, rockets, and shrapnel. And we knew the source: the enemy. Here we didn't know and I couldn't risk Wilco disturbing evidence.
"Sorry, boy." I ran my hand down the long side of his back, then stood and pulled up the collar of my parka, tucking my chin against the wind. The night before, a freak weather pattern blew in from the northwest, bringing several inches of fresh snow. It was still coming down in spurts and the elongated ski grooves left over from the cross-country trekker were already partially covered. I scanned the forest floor around me. No other tracks.
A couple minutes later, Sheriff Pusser plowed down the trail, in the lead of the rest of the team. At six feet plus, an extra twenty pounds or so around his midsection, and a booming voice to match, "stealthy" would never describe my boss.
He broke into the clearing with Officers Harris and Parks, and a handful of crime scene techs and motioned for them to stay back while he approached me. He stopped about five yards away and raised his eyes. "What the hell? Are those ... ?"
His face grew ashen, making his pockmarks more pronounced. After a couple beats, I cleared my throat. "You okay, boss?"
He swiped his upper lip and slid his eyes my way. "I got a bad feeling about this one." He reached into his pocket for a small plastic cylinder of cinnamon toothpicks he always kept on hand. He fumbled a bit before getting one out, then placed it between his lips and bit down hard.
Harris joined us. "Looks like a butcher shop out here."
Pusser frowned. "Did I call you over here, Harris? Watch yourself. I don't need this scene contaminated."
Harris swallowed hard, his cold eyes piercing me, like it was my fault he'd puked all over our last homicide scene. No one moved, waiting for Pusser's command. But he just stood there, sucking on his toothpick and staring at the dead chickens.
I spoke up. "Hey, Sheriff. My dog's going nuts. The body can't be far. The skier said she was in a small cave. Probably below us."
"Okay then. Let's go check it out." He turned to Harris. "You stay here with the rest of these guys until we can figure out the best way to approach the scene."
Harris swore under his breath and shot me one last glare as he stepped back to the others.
Harris hated me — wussy-ass guys like him always do — but like with death, I was no stranger to hate. As a female in the Marines, or even more so as an American soldier on foreign soil, I'd earned more than just my stripes as I faced down old-school chauvinists. But hatred had hounded me long before the military. It started at birth.
During the Great Famine, my nomadic Irish ancestors migrated here, looking for work and a place to preserve their itinerant culture, but somehow ended up settling in this backwoods area of Appalachia. We're known as Travellers, or Pavees as we call ourselves. Gypsies, knackers, or pikies, as others sometimes call us. I've been called them all. And worse. But prejudice poisons both ways. Most Pavees despised "settled" or non- Traveller folks. Sometimes it was difficult to discern "who hated who" the most. Which is another reason Sheriff Pusser hired me. I was to be a liaison of sorts.
I glanced back at Harris's icy stare. Easier said than done.
* * *
Pusser and I half climbed/half slid down the slope, stopping about a hundred yards down in front of a small cave. Sweaty from the descent, I loosened the collar of my jacket. Cold air hit the nape of my neck and sent shivers down my back. Something in me shifted, and fear rose from my gut, worming its way through my body.
Pusser must have felt it, too. His hand moved over his weapon, his fingers twitched. He lifted his chin toward the cave, where a symbol marked the entrance. "That's one of those satanic things, isn't it?"
"Yeah. A pentagram. It's used in witchcraft and other pagan religions, too." I pulled out my flashlight and stepped forward into the cave. A musty smell mixed with a coppery tang stung my nostrils. "Chicken blood." Pusser looked at me. I shrugged, hoping I was right. But I wasn't. As I bounced my beam around the rocky walls, I hit on something in the back of the cave, where the rocks formed a natural shelf.
I moved forward, careful not to disturb too much of the cave floor, avoiding any previous tracks. Extinguished and half-burned candles surrounded the body and more symbols smeared the rocks above her, dark and dripping along the edges. Deep crimson. Her head was turned toward the wall, hair covering most of her features. Her shirt had been torn open exposing a now blackened wound in her chest cavity.
I stepped back. "'Graaltcha Mary ...'" Part of a prayer I'd memorized as a young Pavee. Comfort from the past.
"What did you say?"
"Nothing." Shelta or Gammon, as some called it, the Traveller language of my childhood. It spewed unbidden from my lips at times.
I stepped forward again. Behind me, Pusser spoke into his radio. "We've got her. Tell the photographer to bring down the strobes. It's dark. And no one comes in until I give the okay." He disconnected and spoke to me. "I'm coming forward."
I glanced over my shoulder. He used his light to pick out my tracks and mimic my steps. "The dirt's soft. The forensic guys should be able to lift shoe prints."
I nodded and reluctantly turned back to the victim. She was fully dressed, long skirt tucked under her knees, heavy tights, and calf-hugging boots. I focused again on the wound. Blood had spewed from the gaping hole in her chest, oozed over the rock edge, and flowed into fractured etchings to form a pool of dried blood on the floor below. "I've never seen a stab wound like this."
"Looks like one single thrust. No hesitation, clean penetration." Pusser was right behind me now, looking over my shoulder. "And not much of an entry angle. The killer was standing over her."
I pointed to the edges of the wound. "This shape is odd."
"Because there's no fishtail, no dull side of the wound. I'm betting he used a double-edged knife." He shrugged. "The ME will be able to tell us more."
I pocketed my own light and pulled a ballpoint pen and a pair of gloves from my pocket. "Focus your beam on her face, will you?" I snapped on the gloves and leaned forward, using my free hand for balance, as I slid the pen under her hair, lifting it just enough to see her features.
I flinched and stepped back.
Pusser put his hand on my shoulder. "Callahan?" I heard the worry in his voice. He thought my PTS had kicked in again. "You okay?"
I nodded. It wasn't past horrors — red bits of bodies blown into the air, searing skin, burning flesh — that made my heart jackhammer now. It was the present ... and future. "She's a neighbor of mine. Just a girl."
Pusser mercifully moved the light off her dead white skin, her glazed eyes, and scanned it over the improvised ritualistic altar, the burned-out candles, the blood-scrawled symbols. "A Traveller?"
I bit my lip over the questions clawing at my thoughts: Was she chosen at random, or were we looking at a hate crime against Travellers?
And the bigger question: Was this just the beginning?CHAPTER 2
Maura Keene's mother opened the door before I knocked. She looked from Pusser to me, her eyes questioning ours for a brief second before they widened with pain. Her hand flew to her womb, clutched at her blouse, and twisted the fabric into a tight ball. No one had spoken a single word, yet she knew.
A mother always does.
Still, words needed to be spoken. Harsh truths delivered softly and with compassion, but blunt enough to leave no room for questioning or denial. I steeled myself and delivered the news no mother should ever hear. "I'm sorry, Ona. Maura is dead. Your daughter is dead."
She gasped and retreated backward into the small confines of their camper. I stepped up and followed, reaching out to provide comfort. She batted my hand away. "No!"
"No. No. No!"
Pusser stepped around me. "You should sit down, Mrs. Keene."
She allowed him to gently guide her into one of the benches flanking a small pop-out table. I slid into the bench next to her and placed my hand on her shoulder. This time, she didn't pull away, but leaned into me. Her shoulders heaved, once, twice ... and the sobbing began.
After a while, Pusser pulled a pad and pen from his shirt pocket. He cleared his throat. "Where's your son, Mrs. Keene?"
She looked up, her face raw with pain. "I sent him out looking for Maura. I was worried when she didn't come home."
"When did you see her last?" he asked.
"Yesterday before school."
Yesterday? That can't be right. I leaned in closer. "Over a day ago? Are you sure, Ona?"
She stared at her palms, her expression blank.
She looked my way. "What do you mean?"
I spoke firmly, trying to break through the shock. "Today is Saturday. Saturday evening. Didn't Maura come home after school yesterday?"
"No. She was going wedding-dress shopping with a friend after school, then staying overnight." She pointed through a partially drawn curtain to a work uniform, laid out neatly on a flowered bedspread. "She was supposed to work at the diner this morning. I was expecting her home to change."
"Who was the friend?"
"The Joyce girl. Winnie. Winnie Joyce." Her expression shifted. "When she didn't show, I called Carol. That's Winnie's mother." I nodded and she continued. "Carol thought the girls were planning to sleep over here. There must have been some misunderstanding. But ... I was sure she said ..." Her hand flew to her mouth. "Did they ... did they get in a car accident?"
I looked to Pusser for help. He offered nothing. I looked back at Ona and drew in my breath. "No. Maura's body was found in a cave up by Higgins Falls. She was murdered."
She recoiled and pressed a fist to her lips. "Cherpyra!" Shelta for "You lie!" A guttural sound erupted from her lips. My muscles tightened at her fierce glare.
"Ma?" Eddie, the son, pushed through the door. "Ma? What is it?" He stood rigid in the doorway, his thin shoulders curved inward. He had the same dark hair as his sister. It fell forward, low on his forehead, partially concealing thick brows and dark, round eyes on his acned face. He was seventeen, Maura's twin, but seemed younger. Much younger.
Ona grew quiet. She straightened her shoulders and steadied her breath, summoning the strength to be strong for her living child.
Eddie looked from his mother to Pusser, his features hard and accusing. "Where's my sister? Where's Maura?"
Ona pushed against my arm. I stood to let her by, and she went to her son, grabbing him by the shoulders. She lowered her chin and looked him directly in the eyes. "Our Maura's dead. She's been murdered."
Eddie pushed back, his features wrenching with pain. "Murdered? But who?"
"We're trying to figure that out," Pusser said. He looked at Ona, prodding. "You said she was wedding-dress shopping. So Maura was engaged?"
Ona slumped to the side of the doorway, her face ashen. Eddie stiffened. "Yeah. To Nevan. But what's that have to do with anything?"
Pusser jotted the name down. "Nevan?"
"Nevan Meath." Eddie's mouth tightened as he spoke. He was sucking it up, trying to be tough, strong, but the tremble in his hands gave him away. "Nevan is our friend. He would never hurt my sister."
I stepped between him and Pusser, trying to soothe Eddie's emotions. "That's not what we're saying. We've just got to check out all the angles."
"Angles?" He picked at his lip as he spoke. "You mean 'suspects'? Nevan's a suspect." Pick ... pick ... a spot of blood burst forth. He swiped at it, then stared down at the red smear on his fingertip.
"Something you want to tell us, boy?"
Eddie's head snapped toward Pusser. "No. Why?"
Pusser stared at him.
Eddie shifted, crossed and uncrossed his arms, then wheeled and bolted out the door.
I followed. "Eddie. Stop!" But he was already halfway across the yard. As he ran past Pusser's Tahoe, Wilco erupted in snarls from his cage in the back of the cruiser. Eddie, startled, scrambled to keep his feet under him, disappearing between the neighbors' trailers.
"Let him go." Pusser came up behind me. "We need to find the Meath kid, while things are still fresh. See what the Joyce family says, too."
He was right. We could catch up to Eddie later.
I rolled the tension from my shoulders, inhaled the cold mountain air, and took in my surroundings. The sun was slipping below the late-winter horizon. Low hues of diffused gray gave way to slivers of brilliant orange and yellow that cast a warm glow over the snow-blanketed ground. A pretty sky and clean snow didn't change things, though. Bone Gap was nothing more than a glorified parking lot: a conglomerate of trailers, mobile homes, motorcycles, souped-up muscle cars, and jacked-up trucks, all haphazardly arranged and crammed into a rural backwoods holler. Hicksville to most outsiders. Home to us Pavees. I looked back at Ona's place, a sky-blue, yellow-trimmed tag-along camper, barely big enough for a weekend getaway, let alone a permanent residence for a widow and her two children. One child now.
The sound of Ona's sobbing leaked through the camper's thin walls and filled the night air. "I should go back in there. She needs someone to sit with her."
"Call someone. Your grandmother, maybe. Or the priest. You've got work to do. Finding justice for Maura."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Fractured Truth"
Copyright © 2019 Susan Furlong.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Ex-Marine Brynn Callahan and her human-remains-detection canine Wilco, are called in to investigate when a female body is found in a cave in Bone Gap, Tennessee, where the Irish Travellers (some refer them as gypsies) live in a close-knit community. The crime scene is gruesome : a symbol of pentagram marked on the entrance, dead chickens scattered around, burned-out candles surrounded the body, more blood-scrawled symbols on the rocks … looks like some sort of satanic occult has been practiced! Brynn is horrified and taken aback when she discovers that the dead girl was her neighbor, and one of her own – a Traveller! And this is her first official homicide since she has sworn in as deputy sheriff! What a fate! To further complicate the situation, there is another female body being found in the nearby water …. Through her course of investigation, Brynn is faced with intense hatred and resentment from her Traveller clan, in addition to her own struggle with PTSD. Is she fit enough to do her job as deputy sheriff to solve these homicides? “Fractured Truth” is the second book of the Bone Gap Travellers series by Susan Furlong but can be read as stand alone. Susan has done a great deal of research about veterans and the struggling of their PTSD, and has expertly incorporated these components in this crime thriller, with unexpected twists and mystery. It is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys good reads! I would like to thank Susan Furlong and Kensington Books for introducing me to this interesting Bone Gap Travellers series! I enjoy it tremendously! I personally love the characters portrayed by Brynn and her three-legged Wilco, as well as the culture and custom of Bone Gap Travellers! I am looking forward to reading the next novel of this series.
Although I did not read the first book in this Travellers series, I was able to flow the plot and characters very well. This was a well-written book about a group of people who are mostly ridiculed by the rest of society. The Pavees are known as gypsies, travellers without roots who are not to be trusted. Brynn Callahan is a Pavee, an ex-Marine who is still suffering from PTSD when she joins the sheriff’s office as the newest deputy. She is just in time to work on solving a homicide. I loved how the book flowed from one scene to another and how the characters interacted. My favorite character was Brynn, a flawed character to be sure, but a strong one with a story to tell and a future to survive for. I also liked Sheriff Pusser, a man who stood for values and protecting the town. The ending and the villain were total surprises to me, indicative of how well-written the book was. I definitely plan to look for other books in this series as this one kept me entertained and guessing. Readers of mystery and suspense will enjoy this book! Disclaimer Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. I was not required to post a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”
This is the second book in the Bone Gap Travelers series. I have not read the first book ....yet. It takes place in the Appalachian mountains in Tennessee. Brynn is a former Marine with a troubled past. She has difficulty with alcohol and pills. Experiences from her time in war have left her with PTSD. She has her cadaver dog Wilco as a companion. Brynn has a hard time fitting in with the Pavee community. Now she is part of the police community to help investigate the death of a young Pavee girl. She eventually puts herself, Wilco and her family in danger. This is my first time reading a novel by this author, it won’t be the last. It does keep you guessing. I did lose sleep, because I couldn’t put it down. I was able to read this as a stand-alone. I will go back and read the first book. Don’t miss this book!
The second book in the Bone Gap Travellers series is filled with exciting twists and turns. Author, Susan Furlong, has continued to enthrall me in this great new series. Ex-Marine Brynn Callahan and her K-9 Wilco are working for the McCreary County Sheriff's Office searching for the remains that were found by a cross-country trekker. This is the beginning of a murder investigation that will continue to keep you on your toes. Brynn has more than investigations on her mind, as well. Suffering from PTSD from her years in the Marines, Brynn chooses to cover up the flashbacks and anxiety with a mixture of alcohol and prescription pain pills. Being part of the Irish Travellers community, there are certain lines you do not cross, and it seems Brynn is not the only one crossing them. Will Brynn discover who the killer is before it is too late? Will Brynn's past come back to haunt her? I cannot wait to see what author Susan Furlong has in store for us next!
Brynn Callahan suffers mental effects from being part of a Marine search team for the dead. She and her dog Wilco both received physical injuries from an encounter with an IED in Iraq. Retired from the military, they work as a team for the local sheriff. In Fractured Truth, Brynn has been chosen for her job, despite a less than stellar work record due to PTS and associated addictions, to act as a liaison between law enforcement and the people group she was born into. She is half Traveller or Pavee, originally an Irish roaming group who settled in the Appalachian mountains in Tennessee. She is only partially successful in this role as the Pavees view her as an outsider and traitor for working with the police. She is helpful, however, in that she understands their customs and perspectives. Brynn and Wilco are called upon to locate the body of a girl found by a cross-country skier. Wilco is successful and later, thanks to his sensitive nose, is able to locate another woman’s body who police suspect is in a river. The plot is very complex with many suspects. While investigating these crimes, Brynn is also dealing with PTS issues that she tries to overcome with alcohol and prescription drugs. In addition, she has past relationships that color her attempts to establish a new life in Bone Gap. She suffers discrimination from the Pavees and from some of her “settled” coworkers who look to blame the Pavees for problems. The Pavees, in turn, ostracize Brynn and her grandmother. Fractured Truth has a good solid plot. It is a fascinating mystery, if somewhat gruesome at times. Author Susan Furlong, who has a talent with words, has created an interesting character in Brynn Callahan. I didn’t find her likeable or unlikeable, but I did find myself rooting for her in her struggle against her personal demons. Her battles are deep and painful, and unfortunately there are many returning soldiers who literally share the same torments. The book ends with the criminal cases solved but some loose ends that will carry the reader into the next book in the series. I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Frigid February temperatures make for a hazardous climb to the site of a homicide, protagonist Brynn Calllahan's first with the McCreary County Sheriff's Department in Bone Gap, Tennessee. The ex-Marine is running coordination between her own Irish Traveller (Pavees) community in the Appalachians and that of the "settled" community. Her K-9 companion, Wilco, is a cadaver dog. The victim is a Pavee. Damaged, broken, fighting flashbacks with her PTSD, she dulls the pain with both pills and booze and she is walking a fine line between her work with Pusser and her own people. There is a strong moral code within her own people, and they generally take care of their own. Brynn, however, has long languished on the fringe, not wholly accepted, viewed with suspicion and distrust with them as she does with the settled people. Brynn loves her Gran, but do her loyalties lie with settled law or family? The investigation swings into high gear with the discovery of a second victim. A multi-layered well-plotted storyline emerges, combining Brynn's torment with deeper losses and disappointments. She is haunted, the tension is running high and these circumstances may be something she cannot conquer. She is complex, flawed, but utterly fascinating. The well-developed support characters provide a complete picture along with descriptions of the mountains and nearby village, cold and picturesque at the same time as foreboding and sinister. The dialogue sets the stage, many times raw, threatening. The tension builds to a massively intricate conclusion. This is book 2 of the series. Although you could probably read this novel as a standalone, you might get a more complete picture of the whole scenario if you began with book 1. You may not understand Brynn, but you'll be engaged, involved, invested. You can't solve this mystery and you can't wait for the next one. I was given an ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and extremely grateful for the opportunity to read and review my second book in this series. Recommended to any looking for a unique premise and exceptionally engaging mystery.
The story and mystery were very interesting. Wilcox is still my favorite character. I don't like Gramps. I received a free copy from the publisher and NetGalley for an honest review.
Bone Gap Travellers - Fractured Truth is the second in this series. There is a thread that connects these stories along with the characters but could be read as a stand alone. This is an amazing crime drama about a vet and her dog; dealing with their physical and mental war injuries. Ex-Marine Brynn Callahan and her cadaver finding dog, Wilco, struggle with disabilities, bullying, drug dependency and a way to fit in with law enforcement to solve a MURDER. Furlong does an excellent job of twining Brynn's past with the skills needed to solve this crime. Fast read with in-depth character reasoning that lead to a satisfying conclusion. Very much look forward to the next in this series and hoping for Brynn to experience some true romantic love. "A copy of this book was provided by Kensington Books via Netgalley with no requirements for a review. Comments here are my honest opinion."
FRACTURED TRUTH, the second book in the Bone Gap Travellers series by Susan Furlong, is an intense, edge-of-your-seat read! First off, what captivated me was the raw, emotional power that Ms. Furlong writes with. Her protagonist, Brynn Callahan, is a flawed character both physically and emotionally but this reader couldn’t help but cheer her on and keep reading, hoping for redemption. While FRACTURED TRUTH can be read as a standalone, given Brynn’s life story unfolding in the first book, I would recommend starting there if possible. If not, by all means pick up this book and jump in for several hours of riveting entertainment! The action and suspense starts from the very first page and doesn’t let up. The plot is expertly interwoven into the unique culture of the Irish Travellers who have their own language and customs. Brynn was born into the Travellers’ society, yet she straddles her birth culture and the outside world after joining the Marines and experiencing the horrors and injuries sustained in the war in Afghanistan. Ms. Furlong brings the plight of our veterans and PTSD issues to light in a sensitive manner and weaves the effects into Brynn’s story and how she reacts and interacts. I was also drawn to Brynn’s dog, Wilco, who is a human remains detection canine and was also injured in Afghanistan. It is obvious that the author has researched extensively and her efforts show in a mesmerizing read! I was provided an advance copy via Netgalley with the hopes I would review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
4.5 Stars Brynn Callahan is an ex-Marine and a newly sworn-in deputy facing her first official homicide along with Wilco, her trained K-9. Brynn and her dog are rather unique characters. Brynn is still suffering from PTSD, using pills and alcohol to help get her through her days. She was injured during her time of service, half her body is covered with burn scars .. but most of her scars are inside. Wilco suffered a hit the same time as Brynn. He lost a leg and his hearing. He's been trained to sniff out human remains. Brynn is an Irish Traveler, which are somewhat like gypsies. They pretty much keep to themselves, handle their own problems and definitely do not trust the police. This puts Brynn in a precarious position. The mutilated body of a young woman is found in a cave. Brynn is shocked when she recognizes who the victim is ... a fellow member of the Travelers. Caught between two people .. the Travelers and the 'settled' people .. neither of whom trust her to do her job. It doesn't help when her fellow law officers don't particularly like her. Brynn must put her career on the line and her life at risk to find justice for a woman not unlike herself—haunted by her past, and caught in a vicious cycle she may never escape. The mystery is a good one, pitting people of one side against the other with Brynn caught in the middle. She's a unique character, and I found myself more engaged by her and her dog rather than the who-dun-it. It seems like she's fighting everyone coming at her from every direction .. and she's getting tired of defending herself against them all. If it weren't for Wilco, she'd feel totally alone. There are many suspects, several motivations for the murder of a young girl. The Travelers say that someone from the settled people must be responsible, while the settle people are sure that the Travelers did this awful thing. Old secrets will somehow find their way into the light. Although second in a series, this works quite well as a stand alone. I highly recommend reading SPLINTERED SILENCE, the first book. Many thanks to the author / Kensington Books / Netgalley for the advanced digital copy of this well-written crime fiction. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.