Northwoods by Amy Pease is set in the quaint but troubled resort town of Shaky Lake, Wisconsin, and the book plunges you into a dark and twisty mystery that’ll keep you entertained.

Our protagonist, Deputy Sheriff Eli North, is a man haunted by demons, both internal and external. His stint in Afghanistan left him battered and scarred, self-medicating with booze to numb the pain. It’s cost him dearly—his marriage, and his career as an investigator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Now, the only job he can hold down is with the local sheriff’s department, where his mom, Marge, wears the sheriff’s badge and can keep a watchful eye on him.

Like many communities, Shaky Lake, Wisconsin, is caught up in the opioid crisis. When a teenage boy’s body is discovered floating in a boat tethered to a dock and his last companion vanishes into thin air, Eli, Marge, and a fresh-faced FBI agent dive headfirst into the investigation, unraveling secrets that some would prefer stayed buried.

Pease crafts a tense and atmospheric tale, seamlessly blending elements of crime thriller and police procedural. The multiple perspectives add layers to the mystery, keeping you guessing until the very end.

Let’s talk about setting—Pease nails it with her portrayal of Shaky Lake. You can practically smell the pine trees and hear the lapping of the water against the dock. The dialogue crackles with authenticity, and the characters feel like folks you might bump into at the local diner.

Clocking in at a brisk 288 pages, Northwoods is a quick read that packs a punch. Plus, it’s got the stamp of approval from none other than William Kent Krueger, one of my favorite authors. But fair warning—Northwoods tackles some heavy stuff, from addiction to PTSD.

Pease’s novel left me hungry for more. Here’s hoping this is the start of a new series. 4 stars.

** Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy of this novel. The opinions expressed are my own.

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