The Wrong Woman
reviewed by Pam Guynn
The Wrong Woman by Leanne Kale Sparks is an intense, suspenseful, and engaging debut novel featuring FBI Special Agent Kendall Beck and Denver police detective Adam Taylor. This police procedural, romantic suspense, and crime thriller is mainly set in late February and March with a waning winter in Colorado.
The book starts with a chilling prologue from a killer’s point of view and then proceeds to engage the reader with multiple cases. Kendall is investigating the disappearance of five-year-old Emily Williams and Adam is investigating a case where a young woman was found dead at the edge of a golf course. When Kendall’s roommate, Gwen Tavich, goes missing, Kendall and Adam meet.
Kendall is a strong female protagonist and has plenty of character depth for a first novel. Her friends are the biggest part of her life besides her job. She’s compassionate and relentless in her pursuit of justice, but she also has flaws such as a temper that can get her in trouble. Readers gradually learn about her past and how that influences her actions and thoughts today. Adam seems more laid back than Kendall, but just as devoted to his work. While readers also get insight into his relationship with a past girlfriend, his character isn’t as fully fleshed out as Kendall’s is.
The opening is strong, chilling, and memorable. The plot and sense of urgency move the story forward. Both story lines have twists that keep readers guessing. The writing was well-done and transported this reader into the dark and gritty world of victims and investigators. While the ending was a little over-the-top, it wrapped things up nicely, but left an opening for a thread to be followed in future books. The emotional toll on victims, families, and investigators was shown throughout the novel.
This novel shows how hard it can be to get an investigation going when an adult goes missing. Themes include abduction, murder, assault, child abuse, torture, friendship, family, grief, severe trauma, and much more. Readers should be aware that there are descriptions of torture as well as descriptions of crimes against a child.
Overall, this was an intense and gripping thriller with complex and compelling characters that kept me turning the pages. It’s an impressive start for a debut novel. I am looking forward to reading more from this author and hopefully about Kendall and Adam. Readers of police procedurals and crime thrillers may want to check this one out.
Crooked Lane Books and Leanne Kale Sparks provided a digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for February 08, 2022.