True crime podcaster Trinity Scott is chasing breakout success, and her brand-new serial may get her there. Her subject is Clayton Jay Pelley. More than two decades ago, the respected family man and guidance counselor confessed to the brutal murder of teenage student Leena Rai. But why he killed her has always been a mystery.
In a series of exclusive interviews from prison, Clayton discloses to Trinity the truth about what happened that night beneath Devil’s Bridge. It’s not what anyone in the Pacific Northwest town of Twin Falls expects. Clayton says he didn’t do it. Was he lying then? Or now?
As her listeners increase and ratings skyrocket, Trinity is missing a key player in the story: Rachel Walczak, the retired detective who exposed Pelley’s twisted urges and put him behind bars. She’s not interested in playing Clayton’s game—until Trinity digs deeper and the podcast’s reverb widens. Then Rachel begins to question everything she thinks she knows about the past.
With each of Clayton’s teasing reveals, one thing is clear: he’s not the only one in Twin Falls with a secret.
Beneath Devil’s Bridge is a tense, tightly-plotted and superbly-executed mystery that is very loosely based on a real-life murder that happened in British Columbia some twenty-four years ago. It’s a compelling, absorbing read that takes a look at the impact of a brutal crime on a small, close-knit community and asks some challenging questions about the lengths to which people will go to protect those they love or about what we are capable of doing to our fellow human beings. It comprises some difficult subjects, so potential readers should be aware that the murder itself is quite gruesome (although we don’t witness it directly) and the story contains references to bullying, grooming, paedophilia, underage sex and rape.
If it takes a village to raise a child, does it also take a village to kill one?
Fourteen-year-old Leena Rai is an outsider. Socially awkward and plain, all she really wants is what any teenage girl wants – to belong, to have friends, to be happy. Sadly, she has none of those things. She’s bullied relentlessly at school and on a cold November night she is brutally murdered when she’s on her way home from a “secret” bonfire festival in the mountains north of the small town of Twin Falls in the Pacific Northwest.
When her battered body is pulled out of the river a few days later, Detective Rachel Walczak is assigned to the case, along with Sergeant Luke O’Leary, a homicide detective from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police – who will bring an outside perspective (and the considerable resources of the RCMP) to the investigation. But as Rachel and Luke start interviewing Leena’s schoolmates, and others who were at the bonfire, they immediately get the sense that something is being carefully hidden from them; the stories they’re hearing are too pat, as though they’ve been co-ordinated… but by whom? And why? This all becomes moot however, when someone – a teacher and guidance counsellor at Twin Falls Secondary school – confesses to the crime. The case is closed, there’s no trial and Clayton Jay Pelley goes to prison.
You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.