Quick review for a quick read. This was a very nice, self-contained murder mystery. This novella is a prequel companion to Heather Gudenkauf’s upcoming novel “Little Mercies.” The story revolves around a social worker named Ellen who gets called in on an emergency run regarding a four-year-old boy who was left in the park under a Leto statue beside his murdered mother. Ellen notes that the case has a similarity to one committed 13 years ago, when another little boy was found beside his mother. Suspicions link to the surviving boy of that former crime, but Ellen believes another culprit is at work.

The narrative toggles between the crime scene and parties and Ellen’s home life with her three kids and always on the go husband (he’s a basketball player). I thought it was well done for the details it provided and for being a self-contained case with some finality. I didn’t think the mystery would wrap up, but it provided a clear rationale for motive and the suspicious parties when it came up. I will admit it went by very quickly, but I was still invested in the details of the story.

I’m looking forward to seeing where this respective story continues with “Little Mercies.”

Overall score: 3.5/5 stars

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Harlequin.

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