What Lies Beneath by J.G. Hetherton

What Lies Beneath

What Lies Beneath
by J.G. Hetherton


Book #2 Laura Chambers Mystery series

320 Pages

Published by Crooked Lane Books (12th July 2021)

Purchase from | Booktopia | Fishpond AU* | Book Depository | Amazon AU | Amazon US | Amazon UK |

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My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Actual rating of 3.75f

When Laura is contacted by the local Sheriff about a body involved in a car accident, she has no idea what they could possibly want her for. She’s a pariah, a journalist and no one in this town really likes her all that much. When it comes to light that the dead woman’s last phone call was to Laura, she fears that it’s someone she knows, but with the face unrecognizable from the accident, she has no clue. She has no idea who this person is or why they would have wanted to contact her. When an old picture from Laura’s past surfaces, one of her, her father and their old neighbours, Laura has even more questions than answers. Racing against the local police office to find out the truth will dig up things that are more horrific than Laura thought possible. What did this strange person have to do with her and her father? What was she trying to tell Laura in her last moments?

I requested this book because I’ve been on a crime/mystery sort of kick this year, and I was not disappointed. I didn’t realise at first that this was the second book in the series, I haven’t read the first one and I feel like it didn’t hugely impact my ability to understand what was going on in this instalment, but I do feel that I had missed some crucial events that transpired in book one which I think would have helped me have a deeper understanding of things alluded to in this book. I do believe this can be read as a standalone, but I’d probably suggest picking up book 1 first. I was actually going to do that myself but just wasn’t able to at the time.

Laura is a journalist and she moved back home in book 1 I’m presuming, she tangled with a serial killer and has stayed on, though it seems the townsfolk aren’t her biggest fan. She has a missed call from an unknown number and it soon comes to light that a Jane Doe found on the highway after being hit by a truck was the one who tried to call her. She has no idea why or what this person could have wanted with her as the Jane Doe has been badly disfigured from the accident, which leaves her with no clue as to who the person is. Chasing down the clues to get to the bottom of things and what this person had to do with her deceased father, Laura uncovers secrets and history that she probably would have preferred remained buried, but it’s all in a days work for a journalist.

I did enjoy this mystery, it kept me guessing at every turn and I honestly had no idea where it would head next. The mystery of the strange woman calling Laura, I did have a strong idea of who it was basically from the get go, but the reason behind the contact, I couldn’t have guessed at. It’s not just one mystery that Laura is chasing down in this story, the Jane Doe opens up a chasm of history that Laura needs answers to and I feel like the story was written brilliantly. It kept me guessing the whole time, while I had worked out on of the reveals, the rest were all surprises to me and I absolutely loved that. I had no idea that this story would end up where it did and I did not guess the main culprit at all, the red herring in this story was done brilliantly.

The characters themselves were interesting enough, Laura does come across a little cold in her personality, but I’m wondering if this was done intentionally as she’s essentially living in a town that does not like her. Her friends are few and far between. I really enjoyed the character of her retired cop friend (I want to say his name was Don? But I feel like I’ve remembered that incorrectly), and I absolutely adored his dog. The relationship dynamic between Laura and her mother was multilayered and even though I felt for Laura with what she was put through as a child and even now as an adult, the interactions with her mother were some of the best. We really got a glimpse into what made her Laura as an adult and the development here was fantastic. As said above, having not read the first book, I feel like I did miss out on some vital information that would have added to the character depth in this story, as well as the relationship dynamic between some of them, I do plan to go back and read book 1 though so we’ll see how things turn out after that.

Hetherton has a way with words and I feel like the author is incredibly adept at their craft. The way that Hetherton is able to pick you up and drop you straight into the dusty cornfield surrounding Laura’s childhood home, the descriptions of the forest nearby so involved that I felt like I could feel the chill from under the canopy. This is an author who is able to really create a world that you become immersed in without going over the top with the descriptions which is a great trait to have as some authors get bogged down in the descriptions which makes for a tedious read at times. Hetherton’s ability to write an action scene is also one of the best that I’ve seen, I could feel Laura’s panic and the sense of urgency running through the corn was real.

All in all, this was a fantastic mystery and I’m looking forward to going back and reading book 1 so that I can get a real sense for what happened before this instalment. While writing this review, I actually pushed my rating up because I realised that there was a lot more I liked about this book than not. I do feel that I would have enjoyed it more it I had read book 1, purely for the character development aspect. At times, it did feel like the book’s pacing dropped a teeny bit, but overall this was a page turner that kept me guessing.

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