And There He Kept Her begins when two high school students try to burgle a house and are caught by the owner. Unfortunately, the homeowner Emmet Burr had secrets that would prevent him from ever calling for the police so he shoots the boy and locks the young girl up in his cellar. The secrets become obvious because he has a locked room and chains all ready and waiting for her.

The Sheriff is dying of cancer so Assistant Deputy Ben Packard is running the show. He’s a recent resident of Sandy Lake, the small resort town in northern Minnesota. He has history with the town. His grandparents had a lake house and his brother disappeared one night, presumably drowned in the lake. The missing girl is his cousin’s daughter and he promises to find her.

As someone from northern Minnesota, I always look for mysteries that take place there. And There He Kept Her is a fair mystery though it’s not a whodunnit but an open mystery or “howcatchum” though much of how Emmett was caught relied more on Emmett’s bad luck and unreliable partner than Packard’s deduction, though he was on the right track when he connected a local murder to the students’ disappearance.

As to a sense of place, I grew up on a resort lake in northern Minnesota. Sadly, this town really could be anyplace. There was no real sense of being in a specific place. There was the gossip of a small town but there was none of the shared history and the long memories that you will find in a small town. The resort aspect of the population quintupling on weekends is absent as well. There is this strange intimacy during the week that completely disappears on the weekend filled with strangers. There is no real socializing between the weekenders and the residents and Sandy Lake felt more like Anytown than Resort Town.

Still, I like Ben and think there is potential for the series to grow. I like that the teen who was captured was smart and never gave up hope. I think Ben’s “secret” was a bit overplayed as this is Minnesota, not Texas, but it looks like in Book Two, he will be more open about his life.

I received an e-galley of And There He Kept Her from the publisher through NetGalley

And There He Kept Her at Poisoned Press | Sourcebooks

Joshua Moehling