Trace of Evil

Alice Blanchard

Minotaur, 2019

Agent: Jill Marr

It’s October in Burning Lake, New York, and the annual celebration begins, culminating on Halloween’s Eve, when nearly 100,000 revellers descend on the town, the epicenter for magic and witchcraft. 

The police department is stretched thin to accommodate tens of thousands of raucous tourists who arrive from as far away as China.  Repackaging an ancient tragedy into an orgy of capitalism is the town’s lifeblood.

Detective Natalie Lockhart, struggling to cope with the death of her sister, joins her fellow officers in conducting foot patrols every night, confiscating weapons and breaking up bar fights, as crowds of drunken revellers fill the streets. 

The festivities culminate in fireworks and witch-burning.  Fortunately, incidents are few, everybody leaves happy the following day.  Now the town can get back to normal.

On November 1st, while cleanup crews are busy loading dumpsters with a ton of debris, Natalie finds the body of a beautiful young woman, naked and unknown, abandoned in a pile of trash.  The one identifying mark, a tattoo over her heart, has been removed.

Who is she and what happened to her?  Not even the town’s psychics, who earn their living predicting the future, can tell her that.

But as Natalie draws closer to the truth, a killer is hard at work creating a trap for her.

Reviews:
Trace of Evil is riveting—atmospheric and dark, exploring modern day witchcraft and covens, with enough twists and turns to keep the most astute reader guessing until the end. Blanchard is a master storyteller with a brilliant understanding of family—about the love that both binds us and tears us apart. Get ready for a great read!”
—Tricia Fields, author of award winning Josie Gray Mystery Series

"Alice Blanchard's Trace of Evil is a haunting, dark, and thrilling tale that will leave you breathless. Packed with twists and turns, it kept me on the edge of my seat and guessing until the end."
L.T. Vargus, bestselling author of Bad Blood and Dead End Girl   

"In Trace of Evil, Alice Blanchard weaves elements of atmosphere, suspense, and witchcraft into a compelling mystery that will hold readers spellbound. Irresistible!"
Margaret Mizushima, author of the critically acclaimed Timber Creek K-9 mysteries 

"In Alice Blanchard’s newest, a young detective investigating a new murder tips over a cauldron of cold cases and cold hearts that reach deep into the past of her own family. Alice Blanchard seems to be able to write just about anything she wants with uncanny grace; and this thriller shows off a veteran storyteller at the peak of her powers."
Jacquelyn Mitchard, author, The Deep End of the Ocean

“In Trace of Evil Alice Blanchard has created a compelling protagonist, Natalie Lockhart, a rookie detective in the small town of Burning Lake in New York State. Natalie’s father was a cop with Burning Lake and she’s driven to live up to his ideals. With the town of Burning Lake Blanchard has created a perfect setting for the complex and tense drama that unfolds on the pages of this riveting novel. This book will keep you up and turning pages until the breathtaking ending. And, we’ll be hoping for more about Detective Lockhart.”
Trudy Nan Boyce, author of the Detective Sarah Alt series

"An interesting and credible community as a backdrop to the action, strong characterization and a powerful and unexpected denouement.  It provides the delights of a traditional mystery but is set firmly in the present.  I look forward to reading more in the series."
Ann Cleeves, bestselling author of the Shetland series

“Moody and atmospheric, brimming with mythology and mystery in equal measure, Alice Blanchard’s Trace of Evil is the kind of tale that lingers long after you’ve raced through its twists and turns to the utterly gripping finale. I simply couldn’t put this book down, and I’ll be counting the hours until I can visit Detective Natalie Lockhart in Burning Lake again. “
Owen Laukkanen, award-winning author of the Stevens & Windermere novels

“On the surface, Burning Lake, the small town in which Trace of Evil takes place, is just another suburban town. But the town has a dark uncomfortable history - the burning of three women as witches. And dark uncomfortable pasts are what this novel is brimming with. Starting with the trauma from Detective Natalie Lockhart's childhood, to a series of missing women whose disappearance remains unsolved. Other small mysteries constantly emerge - a seemingly innocent teenage coven hiding something sinister, hateful inscriptions written on a gravestone, the disappearance of a childhood friend. Everything feels as if set to explode. And the murder of the wife of a fellow detective lights the fuse. Blanchard manages to create a community that feels real and vivid, and in that, holds the reader at the edge of his seat, flipping the pages to untangle the knot, and uncover the secrets. The thread of dark magic that's intermingled with the murder mystery plot makes this a unique thriller to read.”
Mike Omer, author of the Zoe Bentley Mystery series

"Trace of Evil is lyrical, dark, and twisted. I read late into the night and the final twist blew me away."
Ellison Cooper, author of Caged