Olivia's adoptive father passed away several years ago, and he was both the "strong one" and the parent that Olivia was closer to. She and her mother loved each other, but her mother tends to lean on Olivia to fix things and only knows how to fix things herself with money. She leaves for Europe to get away from the tabloids while Olivia is lying low. When Olivia realizes that she isn't going to be able to find a job with no references and an apartment that she can afford on the amount of her own money that is accessible in Chicago, circumstances lead her to a small town named Cainsville about an hour away. Cainsville is a strange town, covered with gargoyles but without a single church, even more insular than one expects from a small town and one where the elders still command great respect.
Pamela Larson's former lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, puts Olivia and her birth mother in touch. Pamela wants Olivia to bring reasonable doubt in the case of the fourth murder to the attention of nonprofits that work for the benefit of the wrongfully convicted. As Olivia and Gabriel investigate, Olivia begins to realize that she has a latent talent for recognizing and interpreting omens, and that Cainsville is strange in more ways than she understands.
The supernatural aspects in this book are subtle. The author includes a note at the beginning saying that if you wish to understand what's going on in Cainsville faster than Olivia does, Google the various foreign (Welsh, typically) words and phrases that appear untranslated in the text. I didn't Google any of them but I had a pretty good idea that fairies were involved from the first one that came up.
Olivia is not entirely likeable, but I'm not sure that she needs to be. Her desire to make her own way even before she has to speaks well for her, and it's an impulse to help somebody in danger that results in advice that she follows to Cainsville. But there's a level on which she is hardened, although she is also at times naive. She doesn't hesitate to use people for her own purposes any more than Gabriel the lawyer does, and there is something cold about her. Possibly a trait that she inherited from sociopathic parents, if they are guilty of any of the murders? Or a sign that she is not entirely (if at all?) human? I suspect a rather large amount of fairy blood in both Olivia and Gabriel, and if that is the case, their manipulative streaks are entirely fitting for a literally inhuman and often ruthless supernatural race. I have my theories about how this and some other information about Olivia's childhood could fit in with the murders, depending on the extent of her parents' involvement, but I don't want to get bogged down in the details here. Suffice to say that although I'm not sure I would want to spend much time with Olivia in person, I am eager to follow her through the rest of her books.
Overall Grade: A-