Detective Sergeant Hunter McKenna’s world is crashing down around her. Two teenagers have been found dead under suspicious circumstances, and McKenna’s investigation into the deaths leads places some would rather she not go.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, her former partner, Tom Shepherd, has been shot and killed by his own daughter, Vinny. It would be an upsetting investigation under any circumstances, but added to the mix is that McKenna was once involved with Shepherd, an involvement that some say lead to the collapse of his marriage.
Shepherd’s ex-wife, Rose, is one of those people, and she blames McKenna for his death. Rose claims that McKenna’s questioning of the Shepherds’ daughter, Vinny, about the deaths of her friends pushed the emotionally fragile girl over the edge. With the help of her powerful new husband, Rose brings pressure to bear on the District Attorney, forcing him to pursue a case against McKenna for negligent homicide.
Now the only person that can help McKenna is the very person she’s accused of having driven to murder: Vinny Shepherd.
All of Evelyn “Vinny” Shepherd’s life she’s been caught in a tug-of-war between her parents, her mother wanting her to be the perfectly mannered “girly girl” dressed in pink and bows, with her father supporting (if not outright encouraging) her natural tomboy inclinations. Over the years she’s slowly lost her sense of self, leaving her open to manipulation by those who do not have her best interests at heart. Unfortunately it takes tragedy for her to come to the realization she needs to take back control of her life…but is it already too late?
Intricately layered, Harvest of Ruins works well on several levels. On the surface it’s a taut legal thriller that interweaves the proceedings currently unfolding in the courtroom with the events that brought McKenna to this point. On a deeper level, however, Harvest of Ruins is a psychological study of the devastating effects of guilt, both for actions taken as well as those not taken.
Author Sandra Ruttan’s writing is some of the smoothest and most realistic you will ever come across. Everything from the setting to the dialog to the courtroom process rings true – and as an attorney I am hard on courtroom scenes, trust me – and the characters are so finely drawn it feels as though you’re reading about people who could be your friends or neighbors. Indeed, Harvest of Ruins will not only entertain you, it will cause you to take a lingering look at those around you, forcing you to wonder what may be going on with them just beneath the surface, waiting to boil over.
You don’t want to be one of those left feeling guilty because you didn’t do something, so make sure you pick up this book and give it a read.