Dark family secrets coupled with deep bonds between sisters suffuse the brisk Where Secrets Live, the third stand-alone novel from Minnesota author S.C. Richards (Dead Write and Write to Die, as Susan C. Richards). Liz and Meredith McCallister, raised by two stepparents, were closer than most sisters, their unity forged after their parents died. But over the past few months, Liz--whose life was fueled by "alcohol, sex, and denial"--pulled away from the more grounded Meredith, who desperately needed to confide in her younger sister. Then Liz finds Meredith shot to death.
The murder galvanizes Liz to investigate, especially when she learns that Meredith gave birth when she was a teenager and the baby was given up for adoption. The McCallisters are a wealthy but broken family: "Deep roots. Old money," as Liz puts it, and it has "taken generations to perfect our dysfunction." A substantial inheritance and other holdings turn Liz and her cousin Fred--who are the only beneficiaries--into suspects. Liz's growing relationship with Tom Martens, Meredith's first boyfriend, works well--he's now an agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Where Secrets Live moves at a fast clip as the investigation forces Liz to get her life together. But she takes too many chances by not confiding in Tom. The denouement strains credibility as Richards indulges in multiple twists. Still, Where Secrets Live offers an insightful look at a young woman finally growing up. --Oline H. Cogdill, freelance reviewer