Haunting Pasts (Mabel Davison #3), by Trevor Wiltzen

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Trevor Wiltzen for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

After I discovered local author Trevor Wiltzen and his writing not too long ago, I was hooked. When WIltzen offered me an ARC of the latest in the Mabel Davison series, I could not agree fast enough. The series takes Mabel, a diner waitress and motel owner, out of her comfort zone and turns her into an amateur sleuth and private investigator. Her sole focus has been to discover the whereabouts of a number of missing girls around her part of Washington State. Add to it the fact that it’s 1987, away from a great deal of the tech seen in more modern thrillers I read, and the story takes on new dimensions that I cannot help but love. Wiltzen has a great following and I am pleased to be one of them, as this novel adds more tension, excitement, and mystery to a really great series.

Mabel Davison has a great deal on her plate, both literally and figuratively. Running a motel and diner in her small Washington State community, Mabel has been pulled into the middle of an investigation to find a number of missing girls. The case has gone cold but Mabel is not letting the local authorities deter her from getting to the root of the mystery. Juggling three kids at home and a husband who’s recently returned to her life, Mabel has little time to stop and think.

She’s keen to keep looking for the two remaining missing girls who have yet to be accounted for. This leads Mabel to the local jail, where one of the gang members she helped put away on another crime is willing to share a little intel. While there is a great deal of bravado and likely some lies, there’s a truth buried in there that Mabel cannot discount, leading her to open new pathways in hopes of locating these girls.

Scouring over the details, Mabel discovers that the man who could be behind this is not only a potential serial killer, but could also be someone she knew from her past. As Mabel tries to keep her family safe, she refuses to stand down, no matter the threat, in hopes of putting the final pieces together and solving a case many thought too inconsequential. These girls are out there, in some form, as is the man said to have been involved. Mabel will have to tread carefully, as she points the finger at someone and gathers evidence to convince the police to act.

Trevor Wiltzen is one of those authors who has a good thing going, but modesty keeps him from wanting to shout from the rooftops. I am not afraid to do that for him, as this series is a great collection and keeps readers on their toes throughout. Mabel Davison, like Wiltzen, just wants to get the job done, but deserves some praise for her dedication. She fits in nicely with the strong narrative and reveals much about herself as the story advances. A few plot twists emerge and keep the reader guessing where things are headed. Perhaps the best part of the story for me is the pre-tech boom sleuthing that takes place, where rotary telephones and microfiche are the dazzling items of the day. Wiltzen has a winner here and I hope others will take the time to read this series, if only to learn more about Mabel and those around her.

Kudos, Mr. Wiltzen, for keeping the series strong and providing readers with something amazing.