I started reading Lynn Hightower's books only last year, and each and every one is an absolute gem. For fans of suspense thrillers, Ms. Hightower is definitely an author that should go on your auto-buy list, as her series starring private investigator Lena Padget only gets better and better as time goes on.
In WHEN SECRETS DIE, Lena is faced with a case that truly has her baffled. Emma Marsden is still grieving over her young son's death from what she believes to be some type of rare liver disease. Trying to piece her life back together for both her sake and her fifteen-year-old daughter, Blaine, Emma attempts to deal with infant Ned's death as best she can. Her temporary reprieve is shattered, however, when her son's pediatrician, Dr. Theodore Tundridge, accuses Emma of killing her son herself-of secretly poisoning him in a crazy bid for attention as a sufferer of Munchausen by Proxy.
Still reeling from her son's death, Emma must now deal with the charges brought against her. Blaine, Ned's half-sister, may now be taken away from her mother due to the investigation by the Department of Children and Family services. With nowhere else to turn, Emma enlists the help of P.I. Lena Padget to disprove the allegations against her.
Lena finds other suspicious deaths that have happened under Dr. Tundridge's care, most specifically two SIDS deaths of children of one of his employees, Amaryllis Burton. Then there's more incriminating evidence against the pediatrician-the doctor has sold, for millions of dollars, an unusual, patented genetic material that was found in Ned Marsden's blood. When it looks like the doctor himself might possibly be behind Ned's death, Lena discovers a video-tape that shows, almost without a doubt, that maybe Emma Marsden isn't the innocent, grieving woman she appears to be.
But then Blaine goes missing, and no one knows what to do. Is the doctor behind her disappearance, a man who wants nothing more than to get his hands on more genetic material? Is Emma Marsden really suffering from the horrible and unexplainable Munchausen by Proxy? What really happened to Amaryllis Burton's children? And most importantly, can Lena get to the bottom of the mystery before any more innocent children die?
WHEN SECRETS DIE is Lynn Hightower at her best. Although Lena Padget isn't the main character of this book in the series, I was thoroughly immersed in the story from start to finish. I've always been interested in the machinations of Munchausen by Proxy, wondering exactly what must be missing in a person's brain chemistry to make them harm their own children for attention. WHEN SECRETS DIE explores not only this dreadful disease, but the fact that power, in the wrong hands, can be a deadly weapon.
I can't wait for the next book in the series, and can only hope that Ms. Hightower delves into another interesting subject!