Book Review: Heartbreak Bay by Rachel Caine
It seems evident that this will be the last in the Stillhouse Lake series, due to the tragic passing of Rachel Caine in November 2020. And it’s a fitting place to end it, with Gwen Proctor going in many ways back to the beginning, fighting back against the online trolls determined to destroy her and her kids because of their relationship with dead serial killer Melvin Royal. Finally, it’s coming to light that one person is driving much of the harassment, one person with apparently limitless resources and an equally limitless capacity for rage.
Police officer Kezia, who has been slowly getting more page time as a character as the series progresses, is a solid secondary protagonist here. Devastated when she is called to the scene of a terrible crime (trigger warnings for child murder) Kezia calls in Gwen to help her investigate, not confident of the abilities of the police or federal authorities to solve the crime. Neither of them have any clue that it’s all part of an elaborate trap designed specifically to snare Gwen, masterminded by a man with no conscience and a sick game he’s fully intent on playing out to the end.
If you’re just seeing this as a new release and you’re tempted to pick it up without having read the rest of the series, I don’t recommend it. Go back to Stillhouse Lake and read them all. Gwen’s character arc across the entire series is absolutely gripping, and I really don’t think you get the full picture without following from the beginning. There’s enough clues here for you not to be completely lost if you do start here, but… trust me, and go back to the beginning. You won’t regret it.
This is a series I’ve binged the whole of in a week. It’s so good I just couldn’t set it aside, didn’t want to know about anything else while I was buried in it. I know I’ll come back to read it again and again, forever regretting that I won’t know any more of Gwen’s story, although it does end logically in a place which gives her so many opportunities to move forward.
Thank you so much to Rachel Caine for giving us this wonderful series. It’s dark and gritty and powerful and it’ll make you think next time you’re tempted to be a keyboard warrior - a temptation which comes to all of us at times. It’s a rare series where I give every single book five stars, but this is one of them. It’s truly been a pleasure.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley (though I purchased the rest of the series to read, and I’m very glad I did).