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Title: Midnight Dunes
Author: Laura Griffin
Publication Date: May 24, 2022
Page Count: 364
My rating: 4 stars
About the book:
When the shocking discovery of a murdered woman’s body disturbs the tranquility of tourist season, the police detective in charge of the puzzling case must work alongside the new filmmaker in town to pursue every lead in the new romantic thriller from New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin.
After a scandal derails her television reporting career, Macey Burns comes looking for a change of pace in Lost Beach, Texas. She’s ready to focus on her first passion—documentary filmmaking—and has a new job working for the island’s tourism board, shooting footage of the idyllic beachside community. Her plans for a relaxing rebound are dashed when she realizes the cottage she’s renting belonged to the woman whose body was just found in the sand dunes.
Detective Owen Breda is under intense pressure to solve this murder. Violent crimes are rising in his small town, and he can’t stand to see anyone else hurt…especially not the beautiful documentarian who keeps showing up at the precinct.
With the clock ticking, cameras rolling, and body count climbing, Macey and Owen must use all their resources to find the killer without getting caught in the crosshairs.
Macey blinked at the windshield, shocked. Her heart raced as she tried to catch her breath. The car was tilted, and the headlights illuminated a patch of weeds and a gravelly strip of shoulder.
Macey put the gearshift in park and shoved open the door. She started to get out, but the seat belt yanked her back. Unbuckling it, she slid out. Rain pelted her as she looked around in a daze.
What the hell had happened? One second she’d been driving along and the next second it was like aliens had seized control of the car. And she’d definitely felt a bump. Had she hit something?
Glancing at the road, she saw no other traffic. She retrieved her cell phone and slammed the door. Her wet flip-flops thwacked against the gravel as she walked around the front of the Honda and checked for damage. No dents. No sign of an animal.
She stopped beside the front bumper. The right tire was flat.
She switched on her cell phone’s flashlight and aimed it at the tire. Rain streamed down her face and neck. What now? She turned off the flashlight and called Josh, but he didn’t pick up, so she sent him a text:
SOS! Flat tire. Call me.
A car raced past and sprayed her with water. She yelped and whirled around, but the driver didn’t even slow. Cursing, she glanced up and down the highway. This end of the island was fairly desolate-mostly campgrounds and nature parks. She’d passed a marina, but that was a ways back.
When she’d planned her trip down here, she had wanted seclusion. After weeks of scouring listings, she’d been ecstatic when a long-term rental popped up on the island’s north end, just footsteps from the beach. The idea of being away from town, surrounded by sand and waves and the soundtrack of nature, had been immensely appealing. But now she wasn’t sure. Maybe she should have followed Josh’s advice and rented an apartment in town for the summer.
Macey shivered and rubbed her bare arms, chilled from the rain despite the warm temperature. Her tank top and jeans were already soaked through, and she was out here alone and stranded.
I can handle it.
Ha. Famous last words.
She went back around the Honda and reached inside once again, this time to pop the trunk. It was a new-to-her car, and she didn’t know the spare tire situation, but surely there was something in back. Macey had helped a boyfriend change a tire in college once. Well, maybe not helped, but she’d watched, and it had seemed pretty straightforward.
She tromped back to the trunk and slid aside the tripod and the suitcase filled with camera equipment. After finding the corner tab, she peeled back the layer of carpet.
Score! A spare tire, along with a heavy metal tool-a lug wrench?-and what had to be a jack.
But the spare seemed . . . off. She frowned down at the anemic-looking tire. Pressing her fingers against it, she confirmed her suspicion.
The spare was flat, too.
“Crap,” she said again.
Macey checked her phone. Still nothing from Josh. She hated asking a man to rescue her, but it was freaking pouring, and she was out of options.
Another lightning strobe, followed by a clap of thunder. Then a jagged white bolt zapped down from above.
She looked up at the sky, awestruck. The ferocious beauty of it reminded her of why she’d been attracted to Lost Beach in the first place. She’d been lured by the film project, of course, which would pay her bills while she got her life sorted. But beyond that, she’d been attracted by the dramatic juxtaposition of nature and people. She’d been lured by the rugged Texas coast and one of the last long stretches of untamed beach and twenty-foot dunes.
Rainwater trickled down the front of her shirt, reminding her of her plight. She stared down at the useless tire.
Her trip was off to a rocky start. She wasn’t superstitious-at least not usually-and she refused to take tonight as a bad omen. She was here for the entire summer, and no matter what happened she planned to make the best of it.
A flash of light had her turning around. A pair of headlights approached, high and wide apart, like a pickup truck. The truck slowed, and she felt a ripple of unease.
But maybe this was just what she needed-some Good Samaritan here to help her.
The truck rolled to a stop and the driver’s-side door opened.
Macey squinted into the glare. Nerves fluttered in her stomach as a man got out. Tall, wide shoulders, baseball cap. She couldn’t see his face, only his towering silhouette against the light as he walked toward her.
As he got closer, she saw that he was very tall-six-three, at least, and he easily outweighed her by a hundred pounds. Oftentimes Macey liked being short because people underestimated her. This was not one of those times.
“Need a hand?”
Excerpted from Midnight Dunes by Laura Griffin. Copyright © 2022 used with permission via Berkley
Midnight Dunes by Laura Griffin is the third book in the thrilling romantic suspense The Texas Murder Files series. As with a lot of series in this genre the characters in each installment of the The Texas Murder Files series change with new lead characters and mysteries to be solved so each book can be read as a standalone or in any order if choosing to do so.
Macey Burns has come to Lost Beach, Texas trying to make a new career for herself after leaving her television reporting career after a scandal. Macey is now trying to take up documentary filmmaking which is a passion but as she moves her equipment into a rental cottage things in Lost Beach don’t seem to be quite right.
Detective Owen Breda has been called in on the case when the body of a missing woman is found right near Macey’s rental. Macey coming along the scene can’t help but be curious but when she finds out that the victim was living in the very same place she is now she definitely wants to know how and when Owen will solve the murder.
Midnight Dunes by Laura Griffin is actually the first book that I have read in The Texas Murder Files series myself and so I can say first hand this reads fine as a standalone. This wasn’t my first book by the author however so I was familiar with the ease I get pulled into her writing and stories and Midnight Dunes was no exception. Loved the locale and the characters as the story flew by waiting to see how the mystery would all turn out and I will definitely return to Laura Griffin’s work again in the future.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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About the author:
Laura Griffin is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty-five books and novellas. She is a two-time RITA Award winner as well as the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award.