by Shirley Wetzel
Wendy Gracey was always the golden girl, the perfect child, adored by her parents. Ryan was an afterthought, a change of life baby. Unnoticed by their parents for most of her life, she went her own way, doing as she pleased.
Wendy and her husband Bryce have a perfect marriage and two perfect daughters, or so the world believes. She is the concierge of the family business, Gracey Group, and is being groomed to take over when their father steps down. Her husband is submarine commander, and Wendy is the perfect naval officer’s wife. Their life is golden.
Ryan is stunned, then, when Wendy calls her from Phoenix, asking for her help. She says she may be accused of murder and can’t go home yet. She makes two requests: that Ryan finds a man who could clear her name, and that she temporarily uproot her life, move across the state, and take care of the nieces she barely knows until Wendy can come home again. The girls’ father is at sea and Wendy and Ryan’s mother is busy taking care of their father, who is recuperating from heart surgery, so there is no one else to step in. Ryan barely knows eight-year-old Holly and six-year-old Noelle, and they’ve always seemed uncomfortable around her. Still, blood is blood. Wendy was always there for her, and now it’s her turn to help her big sister.
Ryan is the host of a true crime podcast, Out in the Cold, with extensive investigative experience in cold cases. Her friend and business partner Sophie and other members of the crew are also willing to aid in the case with research and cyber support, and they quickly turn up leads. Ryan returns to her hometown on the other coast of Florida, moving into her sister’s home to tackle her new job as aunt-in-residence. It’s a challenge. The girls are withdrawn, rejecting her attempts to win their trust. Their actions suggest that they are deeply unhappy, with secrets they can’t share. Ryan begins to wonder if Wendy’s family is as perfect as she thought.
Wendy makes infrequent calls from an untraceable burner phone, and the more she talks, the more Ryan is convinced there is something very wrong. Ryan and her team locate troubling information about the murder, things Wendy can’t explain away. Tension mounts as her story veers into dangerous territory.
A FAMILY OF STRANGERS is a nail-biting, edge of the seat psychological thriller. It is also a heart-breaking look into the ways families can fall apart, of the damage secrets can do, and the resilience and strength of the human spirit. Recommended.
Copyright © 2019 Shirley Wetzel. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!