The Secrets on Forest Bend by Susan C. Muller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Secrets on Forest Bend is a mystery with a supernatural presence and romance all rolled into one story. I was a bit curious how the author was going to pull this off and really wasn't expecting much but was pleasantly surprised. I am not a romance reader but what romance is in it seems natural and is not overpowering. The way it was written, the ghost was an essential character in the story and had a very 'deadly' side since she had a bad habit of leaving bodies behind even though most people, including those who were her victims, never saw her or knew of her presence. At the beginning of the story, only one person knew of her existence but even she didn't know of the extent this ghost went to in the past or is willing to go to, to get what she wants. She also didn't know how was she going to convince others of this ghosts existence.
The book opens with the Prologue of an event that took place 26 years ago involving two sisters that is essential to understanding the story while the book itself takes place in the present starting in April of 2015. The story does follow a natural timeline and refers to this event but stays in the present throughout. Although I am not sure how many months the story itself takes place in, it is not an issue since the story follows a natural time flow over the months with the setting being in the Montrose section of Houston, TX.
The main character of Jillian Whitmeyer is well developed throughout the story although the believability is what I question. Some of the things she does are completely 'off' to me but then again I don't know how I would act if my dead sister was haunting me all the time either. Since she had tried prior to the story taking place to tell others about the ghost of her sister only to find herself committed to a mental health facility, I assume that this is the reason for her 'odd' actions or reactions at times in the story.
Jillian's ghostly sister Heather is essential to the story so I would say she is also a main character. She is not developed as a person much since she was a child of 13 when she died, however she is developed enough for me to know just how pampered she was and how she always got her way. As a ghost her evil side shows without a doubt; how she still wants her way no matter who or what she destroys to get it.
Another main character is Detective Adam Campbell who is not developed as well as Jillian but still enough is known to make him a reasonably well-rounded character and for understanding why he feels or thinks the way he does. Although some of his actions seem questionable, since a ghost is involved then I guess anything is possible.
There are other minor characters in the story with various development. They strike me as characters any of us probably have in our own towns and are believable. My favorite one being the character of Snake-Eye who is a leader of a small motorcycle group and in desperate need of a shower.
The story itself is realistic, except for the ghost part. Detective Adam Campbell tries to trace a gun used in several murders which leads him to Jillian since she was the last owner of the gun. However, in finding Jillian, another problem is realized when she proves she had turned that gun into the police department a year ago to be destroyed. With Jillian's help, Detective Campbell tried to discover who at the department isn't doing their job which also puts both Detective Campbell and Jillian in contact with each other for a relationship to bloom. However, this also puts Jillian in the position of trying to convince Detective Campbell that her sister is a ghost who is responsible for the deaths of several people and he is likely to become her next target.
The story was well written with what I thought was the right blend of romance, ghostly encounters, and characters that kept me turning the pages. It was an easy read, always moving, and had some unexpected twists. I enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone who likes ghost stories and crime stories with a touch of romance.
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