The Book of Cold Cases
“The injustices done to the young affect not only their future lives—and deaths—but others’ existences as well.”
Shea Collins may be a medical receptionist by day, but at night, she works at her true interest, her website on cold cases. Out of all she’s documented, Shea is most fascinated by the Lady Killer case.
In 1977, on two occasions, an unknown woman flagged down a motorist, shot and killed him, then left a note taunting the police.
“It was a great story: two innocent, upstanding husbands and fathers, gunned down in cold blood. A dark predator on the streets of a quiet seaside town, apparently hunting for victims. The victims in this case, were men, and the cold-blooded killer was quite possibly a woman.”
Imagine Shea’s shock when she recognizes one of the patients sitting in the waiting room as that killer.
“The woman sitting twenty feet away from me, reading a book, was Beth Greer. And in 1977, she’d been Claire Lake’s most famous murderer.”
When Beth was 17, her father was killed in a home invasion. Two years later, her mother died in a one-person car accident. At the age of 23, Beth is notorious for partying and drinking. Then, the Lady Killer strikes, and she is accused and arrested.
“Beth Greer became the most famous murder suspect in America. The woman who had sold all of those papers was sitting in my waiting room right now quietly reading a book.”
Shea takes her lunch break and follows Beth when she leaves the office. Beth confronts her, and to Shea’s surprise, consents to an interview.
Beth also puts her in touch with Ransom wells, a high-powered lawyer and the Greer family attorney, and remembered for what he said to a reporter after Beth’s acquittal.
“When Ransom well, Beth’s lawyer, was asked about Beth in an interview in 1989, his only comment was, ‘I know pure evil when I see it.’”
She also meets with Detective Joshua Black, the investigative officer of the case, and realizes he, of everyone involved, secretly did not believe Beth was guilty.
Strange things happen when Shea goes to the Greer mansion, unexplainable, frightening things. It’s almost as if the house is haunted?
“I closed my eyes, feeling two distinct sides of myself at war. On the one hand, I absolutely did not believe in ghosts or the supernatural. It was regular, everyday earthly evil that kept me up at night.”
All the facts Shea learns lead to some very unsettling conclusions, making her seek out someone to share those revelations with. That person is private detective, Michael de Voss, who does research for some of her blogs. “I’d only ever seen a photograph of him, which he’d sent me early on; we’d never met in person.”
Along with Detective Black, Shea realizes that Beth Greer was actually innocent of murder, and if that’s so, she’s protecting someone. Beth has no friends, no family, and she lives alone in the Greer mansion. Who would she possibly care enough about to allow herself to be arrested and tried for murders that person had committed?
“The sweet girl in that photo had stood by and done nothing after her father was killed, after her mother somehow died in the fallout, after two men were shot point-blank on their way home from work. She had known who the killer was and she had done nothing about it. She had even gone to trial for capital murder.”
Told from the point of view of Shea and Beth, as well as in flashbacks to the days of the trial and its consequences, The Book of Cold Cases gives a clear account of what happened but in an insidious, covert way. Though the threads don’t come together immediately, the adept reader may guess whodunnit, as well as the very chilling outcome.
In-depth characterizations—Shea, cautious and fearful, while maintaining she is well-adjusted to her current, fairly isolated life; Beth, manipulative and seemingly cold, whether genetically or through conditioning, and also isolated by the onus of notoriety—each makes a perfect foil for the other as they spar in the interviews where Beth feeds Shea enough information to point her in the direction for her own discoveries.
The Book of Cold Cases is a tense read, promoting an ambiguous sympathy for Beth while at the same time nurturing the hope that the truth will eventually free both her and Shea of the guilt they carry. Though the ending shifts into the paranormal, it in no way detracts from the justice that comes and points out how the injustices done to the young affect not only their future lives—and deaths—but others’ existences as well.