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Red Leaves    by Paullina Simons order for
Red Leaves
by Paullina Simons
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2017 (1996)
Hardcover, Softcover, Paperback, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Detective Spencer Patrick O'Malley met a young woman who immediately caught his attention. She was beautiful, sure, but seemed to have an aura about her that made him want to be a part of her life. He asked her for a date and she accepted.

Unfortunately, that was not to be. Kristina Kim's naked, frozen body was found on Dartmouth campus over the Thanksgiving weekend. As fate would always seem to have it, Spencer found himself assigned to be lead on the murder case. Or was it really murder? An accident? Suicide? Until the autopsy, which should answer these questions, theories fly around the police force and among college students.

We, as readers, meet Kristina's close college friends and get to know them intimately. Were any of them capable of murder? And why would Kristina commit suicide? She had an air of mystery about her which only added to her attraction. Could someone coming out of the woods surrounding the college have approached her? Did she have to fight someone off? There were no defense wounds visible.

Her only attire was a pair of high, black leather boots. Whoever was responsible for her death wasn't after her boots. Her body had lain, covered by snow, for nine days without discovery. Which made the time of death very difficult to ascertain.

Her friends are questioned time and again for any knowledge they might unknowingly have. Spencer finds himself more embroiled in the intricacies of the murder case. Although Kristina and he never had that date they had arranged, he feels an obligation to find the reason for her demise. Red Leaves' first chapters present the students at Dartmouth one by one as we get to know them and their convoluted relationships. Is there a murderer among them?

This is a suspenseful plot that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. The different personalities seem to have formed a tight group and each and every one springs from the pages to help us understand them. The dissection of each individual's life proves intriguing. I found myself trying to slip into Spencer's head to learn what clues he might have picked up. Red Leaves by Paullina Simons is well worth a read.

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