Bleeding Through by Sandra Parshall is the fifth book in the “Rachel Goddard” mystery series. Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press, September 2012

When veterinarian Rachel Goddard and Deputy Sheriff Tom Bridger take teenagers on an outing to clean up roadside trash in rural Mason County, Virginia, they make a grisly discovery: the plastic-wrapped body of a young woman. One teen peers at the face through the plastic and screams. The dead girl is her sister, Shelley, a law student who has been missing for a month.

As Tom launches a murder investigation, Rachel copes with a visit from her own sister, Michelle, who is terrified that a man is stalking her. Michelle insists she’s receiving threatening calls and someone has invaded her office in the Washington, DC, area. Her own husband doubts her. Michelle has always been emotionally fragile, and she reverts to her childhood dependence on Rachel. Soon it becomes clear that the mysterious stalker has followed Michelle to Mason County and now he’s turning his attention to Rachel too.

Tom pursues the stalker at the same time he investigates Shelley’s murder. Was it random, or was she killed because she was working to prove that a Mason County man was wrongly convicted of murder? Relatives of his supposed victim were enraged by Shelley’s efforts to free a man they believe is guilty. Did they kill her to stop her? But what if she was right? If an innocent man was convicted, one person would have the strongest motive to silence Shelley: the real murderer.

When Rachel’s sister is pursued by a stalker, she heads to Mason County to get away from it all unbeknownst to her, her stalker is on her trail and soon takes aim at Rachel. Meanwhile Tom is on a hunt for a killer that leads to a surprising revelation.

In this tightly woven and well written narrative, the author spins a web of intrigue and suspense in this page-turning mystery that I could not put down. This fast-moving, action-filled and gripping drama had me on pins and needles as the story progressed and had me hanging on every word and every scene as the events played out in this rush of pure adrenaline to find both a stalker and a killer. This was a great mystery that kept me guessing as to how it will all end and boy what a thrilling ride it was when I got there. The author delivers yet another winner in this captivating series that continues to get better and better with each book written. I look forward to next chapter in the lives of Rachel and Tom and their supporting cast of characters.

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