VIRTUE FALLS – Christina Dodd
Virtue Falls Series , Book 1
A Perfect 10
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 978-1-250-02841-9 (Hardcover)
eBook: 978-1-250-02843-3
September 2014
Romantic Thriller

Virtue Falls, along the Coast of Washington State

Elizabeth Banner grew up overhearing people say to others that she is the girl who watched her father kill her mother with a pair of scissors. She was only four at the time of the murder and can't remember it at all, but she never questioned her father's guilt…nor was she allowed to visit him in prison. Nevertheless, twenty three years later, Elizabeth is a geologist like her father and recently returned to Virtue Falls to work on the Banner Project, the study that her father began. She's a brilliant researcher devoted more to science than people. The four other researchers on the project are out of state when a very strong off shore earthquake shakes the area. Elizabeth thinks herself lucky to be able to video record the resultant tsunamis.

Charles Banner had a hard time in prison, which may have hastened the onset of his Alzheimer's, but he's now confined in the nearby Honor Mountain Memory Care Facility. Considering the teasers, it's not a spoiler to say the original investigation and conviction were hurriedly done.

Elizabeth was once married to FBI Agent Garik Jacobsen, presently suspended from the FBI and living in Las Vegas. When he hears the news about the strong quake that virtually isolates Virtue Falls, he's soon in his truck heading there—the divorce was definitely not his idea.

The above is the bare bones of an exciting and complex story. While Elizabeth and Garik may be the main protagonists, the tale is full of interesting characters, some likable, some not, and some scary. Ms. Dodd has an exceedingly strong talent for bringing her people to life, and she doesn't waste time doing so. That's not to say we know all about them right away; there are secrets to be plumbed after all.

With so many personalities and storylines, VIRTUE FALLS is a difficult work to summarize, but not so hard to describe. It's purely excellent and well deserves one of RRT's rare Perfect 10s. I look forward to more visits to Virtue Falls.

Jane Bowers