Beneath Devil’s Bridge
Loreth Anne White
reviewed by Sandra Hoover
Twenty-four years ago, a small community was horrified and sickened by the rape, brutal beating, and drowning of fourteen-year-old Leena Rai. When a beloved school guidance counselor confessed to the crime, shock waves reverberated throughout the small, close-knit community and rumors ran rampant.
After his detailed confession, Clayton Jay Pelley refused to speak of the crime again. He accepted his life sentence without benefit of a trial, leaving the police and community frustrated with unanswered questions and dangling case threads.
Pelley is now talking to Trinity Scott, a young, ambitious true crime podcast reporter. Upon her arrival in Twin Falls, Scott relentlessly pursues everyone with ties to the old case including one of the original investigators, retired Detective Rachel Walczak, whose life course was tragically altered by the murder and subsequent investigation. Her refusal to be interviewed motivates Scott to dig deeper into the past, and she unknowingly sets off a series of events that quickly spiral out of control when episodes of her podcast begin to air. The release of Trinity’s interviews with Pelley sends shock waves rumbling through the community as new questions are raised and the past and present collide. People are nervous. People are scared. People are lying. Why? Was Clay’s confession twenty-four years ago a truth? Or lie? If he didn’t kill her, who did?
Inspired by a true crime, White has penned a thriller I promise will leave you dazed and searching for answers while trying to come to terms with a crime so cold-blooded, so heartless, so unimaginable that it begs the question “Why”? Dark, unsettling, disturbing on many levels, Beneath Devil’s Bridge forces readers to acknowledge the dark side of human nature. Unfolding through multiple points of view and then/now chapters, the story moves forward like an avalanche – picking up momentum, rolling over you page by page, chapter by chapter, podcast after podcast until it buries you. As I burned through pages with heart pounding, the only thing I could hear was these character’s voices in my head – their lies, deceit, accusations – brought to life through flawed characters, twisted plot lines and all five senses. All thanks to the expertise of an author who excels at manipulating and transporting readers into unsettling scenes alongside unreliable narrators hiding game-changing secrets. White’s masterful rendering of this story shines a light on some ugly truths still prevalent in society today. The reading experience will be greatly enhanced if you go into it as I did – knowing little. However, I’ll leave you with one quote to ponder: “If it takes a village to raise a child, does it also take a village to kill one?”
If I’m lucky, maybe once in a blue moon, I read a book that leaves my mind reeling, heart aching and soul searching. One that haunts me long after The End. Beneath Devil’s Bridge is one of those books. Loreth Anne White has a gift for rendering thought-provoking stories that demand attention, respect and intimate soul searching. Stories that inspire, entertain, and motivate. Stories that hurl you at warp speed toward electrifying endings you most likely won’t see coming. Highly recommended for fans of true crime, suspense thrillers, mysteries, and 5 star books in any genre.