Chris Lassiter is a successful horror writer who’s lost his muse. He’s expected to write the third book in a trilogy that’s been made into movies, so his agent buys a remote cabin in the woods and sends him there to do nothing but write. Still, Chris is having trouble and he can’t seem to put a single word on the page.
Sawyer Wiseman left Lancaster Falls for Chicago. He became a cop and was good at it. However, a case he was working went wrong and now he’s back working on Lancaster Falls’ small police force. Sawyer’s discovered corruption in the city’s government and, after a gruesome discovery, he’s looking into a case long gone cold.
Chris and Sawyer cross paths after the police captain sends Sawyer to snoop around the cabin where Chris is staying. There’s an attraction, but Sawyer seems to want nothing to do with Chris. Eventually, Sawyer can’t fight his feelings and the men begin a hot and sexy relationship. All the while, the cold case grows even more mysterious and Sawyer wants nothing more than to solve it so some old town ghosts can be put to rest. Can the men get through this obstacle, solve the case, and have a future together? Or will demons from the past ruin their chances before they even get started?
I am a big fan of mystery/cop novels and I’m a fan of author R.J. Scott as well, so when the opportunity to read What Lies Beneath came about, I jumped on it. This is the first book in the new Lancaster Falls series and it’s an excellent start. The characters are compelling, the mystery is interesting, and the small town atmosphere has a moody/dark vibe that makes you just know something evil is lurking under everything…not just the lake that’s going down thanks to the intense heat.
I like both Chris and Sawyer. They’re good men and they both have issues they need to work through. I understand Chris’ frustration with his inability to find the words he needs. He’s under pressure from his agent, the publisher, and the movie studio, but his muse has completely left. I’ve been trying to write a book for two years and there are times when I go months without being able to put words on the page. It’s frustrating, and Chris’s frustration really shines through. Now Sawyer…it’s not so much understanding him as feeling sorry for him. Something bad happened with a case he was working in Chicago and it haunts him. He’s frequently tired because of the nightmares he has. He’s also treated poorly by the Captain of the police force…almost like there are things he doesn’t want Sawyer to figure out. Both men are nicely fleshed out and well written. They feel real, not like cardboard, cookie cutter characters.
The romantic relationship between Sawyer and Chris feels like a slow burn, even though it’s really not. Sawyer is fighting his attraction to Chris with everything he has. However, their passion finally explodes in a super hot scene and it takes right off from there. They have their miscommunications, but it’s obvious they are meant to be together. I like how the author was able to balance their relationship with the ongoing mystery.
Speaking of the mystery, there’s plenty to sort through. It’s interesting and I am pleased with the way it’s presented. It’s obvious Scott did a lot of research into police procedure, forensics, and even weather. There’s no downtime with What Lies Beneath. It’s a ride from beginning to end. I don’t want to give anything away, but I am going to reveal that the case isn’t solved by the end of the book. There are a fair amount of clues, and the puzzle is beginning to take shape, but it’s very involved. It seems it will be carrying over through future installments of the series. However, this is not a bad thing. Honestly. I am not going to call it a cliffhanger. There’s no screaming or throwing my Kindle out the window. I am satisfied with where it ended, and it’s made me excited to read the next book.
I want to give a quick acknowledgment to the background characters in the book. There are too many to mention individually, but each one of them plays their role excellently. I also want to say the town of Lancaster Falls is an actual character and not just a setting. It holds secrets, fear, corruption, and family issues. Even the lake has something to hide. It’s sufficiently creepy and foreboding. I am enjoying every person and place.
I am definitely recommending What Lies Beneath, especially if you’re a fan of cops, mysteries, and suspense. You’ll get caught up in the story and characters, and you’ll certainly get excited to read book two. I know I can’t wait!