In M.K.Coker’s series of books set in South Dakota, the key to the series is in the past, and readers are given details as to what’s taken place on the desolate prairie in dribs and drabs along the way. There are many secrets for such a small town, but people have learned not to talk too much and mind their own business.
In Reunion, South Dakota, Sheriff Karen Mehaffey has an apparent suicide on her hands. Leo Jurczewsky had been threatening for some time, so when he’s found in his truck off the road, a gun in his hand, and his brains blown out, it seems pretty cut-and-dried. That is until the medical examiner rules it a homicide.
This forces Karen to call in her Uncle, Marek Okerlund. He’s her father’s much younger half-brother whom Arne (a former sheriff himself) helped run out of town many years ago. Following the death of his wife and unborn son, he brings his young daughter back to Reunion as an escape from sorrow. However, that decision has deeper ramifications, as he takes on the job of a part-time detective. Since he returned, part-time seems a lot more like full-time and Arne has been filling in on the child-care duties.
The topic of suicide and assisted suicide comes into play for Karen, whose own husband, Patrick, is lying in a hospital being kept alive by machines and has been for some time. It’s not something she’s opened up about until now, but she invited Marek to come to the hospital with her during the investigation. This case has her questioning if she should have allowed him to be kept alive and if she should try to do something about that now. When Patrick dies due to his machines being turned off, Karen is the chief suspect.
On top of that, drawings of various townspeople in a target’s crosshairs start appearing around town. Is this a serious threat or just a prank? At the same time, Marek locates a very pregnant runaway who reminds him a lot of his ex-wife. He tries to help her out and give her a place to stay and a job. He doesn’t even know why he’s doing it and questions the wisdom of his actions.
Dead Wrong is about what happens after a tragedy, and the impact events have on people, even when it seems they’ve “gotten over” it. It’s intelligently written and asks intelligent questions designed to make the reader think about life and death and what happens after the dust settles and life goes on. At the same time, it shows the people involved in the issues such as assisted suicide and that it’s never an easy decision to come to without being preachy.
This is a great series with characters who feel very real and who live in a world that also feels real. They are all struggling to some degree with what life has thrown at them and getting by as best they can. Into the midst of this, they have a mystery that must be solved; the truth must be learned and if there has been a crime it must be dealt with. Above all, though, it’s driven by the characters who really ring true. I couldn’t wait to turn the next page with this story, and I highly recommend it and the series.
Previous book in the series (link): Dead Dreams by M.K. Coker
Next book in the series (link): Dead Quiet by M.K. Coker