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Kirkus Review

In this psychological novel, a woman is tormented by a deeply troubled—and perhaps murderous—high school friend. Beth Littleton and Shannon McKay are less friends in high school than bitter rivals for the affections of Ben Steeger, Beth’s boyfriend. In a freak accident, Ben is struck by lightning on Litchfield Beach in South Carolina. He dies as a result, though not before he confesses his love for Beth to Shannon, an admission she greets with “hot fury.”  Levine packs the energetic novel with a generous helping of suspense and intrigue, and the plot never lags, not for a second. In addition, Beth turns out to be a sympathetic protagonist. A lively crime tale.

Shadow on Concrete Wall

Midwest Book Review

“Where do you think you’ll be when you die?”

A Trail of Vengeance opens with a discussion between high school sweethearts who embark on a conversation about last wishes. These come frightening, suddenly true when Ben dies in what appears to be an accident.

 

Or, is it murder? And why did Beth's friend Shannon vanish in the midst of this event?

 

Fast forward seventeen years, when Shannon returns with a new name, identity, and a thirst for revenge which results in more bodies piling up.

 

The atmospheric South Carolina Low Country is a backdrop for these events as Beth uncovers new truths about not just the past, but her husband Jake. She comes to realize that her choices and relationships are part of a complex situation of ongoing deception and angst.

 

Marvin Levine not only places his characters in solid scenarios of intrigue and discovery, but takes the time to describe the Low Country culture and build the psychological profiles of Beth and everyone around her: "Beth drifted off and wondered what exactly comfort was — did she ever really have it? Could she ever find it again?"

 

These moments create a strong mystery that evolves on both a personal and an intrigue level to grab reader interest, weaving a story of revenge into that of a woman struggling to maintain equilibrium while overcoming past crises.

 

As her lifelong relationship with Shannon McKay is revealed, readers come to realize that Beth's involvement in this dangerous game embraces a traumatic association with an evil that emerges from the past to affect everyday affairs.

 

Readers who embark on Beth's journey towards realization and redemption will find much to enjoy about her processes of discovery, from her analysis of her marriage to Jake to her growing understanding of the special form of malevolence that Shannon represents.

 

The result is an engaging story of love and monsters that unfolds many surprising twists and turns before Beth's shaken world rights itself in a satisfyingly definitive conclusion.

 

Mystery libraries and those appealing to women's fiction readers will find A Trail of Vengeance spins a fine yarn not just of vengeance, but evolving truths and interpretations of them.

Shadow on Concrete Wall

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Other reviews

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