Trace of Evil: A Natalie Lockhart Novel

Alice Blanchard

Minotaur, 2019

Agent: Jill Marr

There’s something wicked in Burning Lake…

Natalie Lockhart is a rookie detective in Burning Lake, New York, an isolated town known for its dark past. Tasked with uncovering the whereabouts of nine missing transients who have disappeared over the years, Natalie wrestles with the town’s troubled history – and the scars left by her sister’s unsolved murder years ago.

Then Daisy Buckner, a beloved schoolteacher, is found dead on her kitchen floor, and a suspect immediately comes to mind. But it’s not that simple. The suspect is in a coma, collapsed only hours after the teacher’s death, and it turns out Daisy had secrets of her own. Natalie knows there is more to the case, but as the investigation deepens, even she cannot predict the far-reaching consequences – for the victim, for the missing of Burning Lake, and for herself.

From the author of the New York Times Notable mystery novel Darkness Peering comes an evocative new series about a small New York town, its deeply held secrets, and the woman determined to uncover them, no matter what the cost.


• Reviewed in the Associated Press and picked up by US News and World Report, San Diego Union Tribune, ABC News Online, Minneapolis Star Tribune, among many other outlets. 

• A December 2019 Indie Next pick

"This twisty and terrifying thriller has something for just about everyone, and I’ll be first in line for the next Natalie Lockhart novel."
Criminal Element Review

“Witchcraft—both historical and current—becomes a gripping metaphor for how violence can continue to permeate a community for decades in this intricately plotted launch of a new series… Blanchard keeps the tension high in Trace of Evil, balancing the plot between the police investigation and Natalie’s own family drama. Blanchard’s view of a small town excels… Readers will welcome a return to Burning Lake with Natalie at the helm.”
—Oline H. CogdillAssociated Press

"What seems an open-and-shut case becomes much more, with Blanchard carefully peeling away layers of history and deception before pulling off a shocking twist. Lockhart is a relatable new heroine on the police-procedural scene, and one who will appeal to readers of Tana French."

“Flush with red herrings, Wiccan symbols, and disaffected teens, this book will appeal to fans of criminal investigations led by empowered women."
Publishers Weekly

"A fast-paced, intricate, and atmospheric mystery that introduces a plucky, engaging detective."
—Kirkus Review

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