Review: The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James

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In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect–a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.

Oregon, 2017Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases–a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes.

They meet regularly at Beth’s mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she’s not looking, and she could swear she’s seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn’t right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?

A true crime blogger gets more than she bargained for while interviewing the woman acquitted of two cold case slayings in this chilling new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Sun Down Motel.


Shea Collins spends most of her home life locked in her apartment, researching and writing true crime articles for her own blog called “The Book of Cold Cases.” Her blog is moderately successful, with a group of readers who are as interested in unsolved crimes and she is. One of these crimes happened in 1977, in Shea’s hometown, Claire Lake, Oregon. Shea had written about the Lady Killer Murders, where two men are anonymously shot, and how the main suspect in the case is a rich girl named Beth Greer. Forty years later, the same Beth Greer that just came into her life by walking into the doctor’s office where she is a receptionist. Beth had never told her side of the story before, but Shea convinced her that her story needs to be told and that the Lady Killer Murders need to be solved.

This is another Simone St. James novel, and there is so much similarity between The Book of Cold Cases and her previous novel The Sun Down Motel that it feels like they are very easy to compare. I like the setup, and I like that we are instantly given a paranormal vibe from the Greer house. The major difference between these two books is the The Book of Cold Cases is more of a mystery where as The Sun Down Motel leans more toward it’s paranormal aspects. Other than that, they feel like the same characters in different books. Simone St. James writes a good novel, but it does not work as well as her previous book. The Book of Cold Cases feels like the first plot idea that St. James had was the one that she wrote. There could have been more of the exploration into the activities of the house. There could have been a little more cat and mouse with Beth Greer. There were moments when the tension could have been stronger but the decisions that St. James makes this novel feel a very safe. 

This is not to say that The Book of Cold Cases is a bad book. I like the characters and I like the house. I do wish that she would have done more with the house because it is pretty interesting as another character in the plot, but the focus is off of the house most of the novel. I wish that St. James would have taken more chances in The Book of Cold Cases. Instead we get a follow-up to a superior book.

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