‘The Wrong Woman’ by Leanne Kale Sparks is a gripping murder mystery

The Wrong Woman by Leanne Kale Sparks

It’s an unusual mystery that leaves you with perhaps more questions than you had at the start. “The Wrong Woman” is a gripping murder mystery featuring Kendall Beck, an FBI agent whose best friend and roommate Gwen is brutally murdered, and Adam Taylor, a police detective investigating that murder. He is also investigating a recent murder that appears to be linked to a serial killer. Beck is investigating the disappearance of a five-year-old child when Gwen goes missing, and in her desire to find Gwen, Beck’s own investigation into why the child disappeared is paused. We think of the title when we wonder if Gwen was mistakenly killed because she was driving someone else’s car. Was she, indeed, the wrong woman?

Author Leanne Kale Sparks’ debut novel showcases fine writing, and the action proves fascinating; it all makes for a novel that’s hard to put down. We quickly learn that during college, Beck tried to save the victim of a serial killer. The victim had escaped, but she was followed by the killer. Beck was shot before she could take the victim to a police station. The victim was then grabbed again by the killer. Beck was left for dead, but she survived and decided to dedicate her life to taking bad guys off the streets by becoming an FBI agent. Gwen and Gwen’s fiancé own a restaurant, and this becomes important in solving the mystery. While Beck has no boyfriend, her best male friend is Quentin, from whom we sometimes get strange vibes. When Gwen is found dead, we wonder if her death is part of the serial killer case, but her fiancé is acting suspicious, and there are other suspects at hand as well.

The mystery is well done, and at the end, there is certainly an indication that this is just the first book in a series. Sparks leaves us with many questions about Beck’s past: what happened to her own fiancé (did he really commit suicide when he seemed so happy?), and whether the person they think was the serial killer, the Reaper, really was that killer. I went back and reread the prologue, the only section written from the serial killer’s point of view, and was struck that it left me with more questions and more suspicions.

Ironically, what frustrated me about this title wasn’t the author’s writing. It’s that the publisher’s blurb about the story line doesn’t really fit the actual story. It mentions Gwen’s dark secrets spilling out, but she didn’t really seem to have any “dark” secrets. It also says the bodies begin to pile up, but after Gwen’s death, there are no more bodies. Questions about links to prior murders do arise, but the book I read didn’t include more murders. Luckily for readers, the actual novel is wonderful, a thrilling story that is a police procedural for both the FBI and the local police as both main characters race against time to solve the various crimes before there are more victims. Sparks confirmed that the next book in the series is forthcoming. I can’t wait to read it for several reasons. I want to see if some of my questions about Kendall, Adam, and Quentin are answered; I love the nonstop action and suspense; and I can’t wait for another emotion-filled murder mystery with admirable main characters who are a bit mysterious themselves.

Please note: This review was first posted on Bookreporter.com.