Review: Bleeding Darkness by Brenda Chapman

Title: Bleeding Darkness by Brenda Chapman
Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery Series Book Five
Publisher: Dundurn
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 392 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Two murders, fourteen years apart, both shrouded in secrets.

David McKenna lies dying in a Kingston hospital, his children gathered from across the country to say a final goodbye. But the family reunion opens old wounds. David’s only daughter, Lauren, never recovered from the unsolved murder of her high school best friend fourteen years earlier ― or the suspicion that her brother, Tristan, was behind it.

Before David breathes his last, Tristan’s pregnant wife disappears and the Major Crimes Unit is called in to help find her. With Kala Stonechild struggling to reconnect with her foster niece and Zach Woodhouse making trouble for Staff Sergeant Jacques Rouleau, tensions are running high on the team, but they must put their personal problems aside when a woman’s strangled body is found frozen on the Rideau Trail.

With a winter storm sweeping the shores of Lake Ontario, the team uncovers unspeakable betrayals that give more than one suspect a reason to kill …


The fifth installment in the marvelous Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery series, Bleeding Darkness by Brenda Chapman is a superb police procedural. This latest release can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend the entire series.

David McKenna is dying and Evelyn has summoned their three children Adam, Lauren and Tristan to say their final goodbyes. Lauren is unmarried and although her relationship with Evelyn is fractious, she adores her father. Her older brother Adam is the golden child of the family and he is a pilot who is married to Mona and they have a special needs son, Simon. Lauren is closest to her younger brother, Tristan, who is married to Vivian and they are expecting their first child together. Fourteen years earlier, Tristan was the suspect in the murder of his ex-girlfriend and Lauren’s best friend Zoe Delgado’s murder which still remains unsolved. So when Vivian vanishes and is later found murdered, suspicion inevitably falls on Tristan. With Officer Woodhouse leading the investigation into Vivian’s death, Officer Kala Stonechild is assigned to look into Zoe’s unsolved murder to see if the two cases are connected.

The McKenna family is extremely dysfunctional and their bedside gathering highlights their difficult relationships. Lauren is a successful business owner who drinks too much and looks for love in all the wrong places. Her visits home are extremely limited and she rarely sees her brothers. Adam’s job as a pilot makes him a bit of an absentee husband but Mona is a dedicated mother to their son. Tristan is a published author whose first novel was a success but he has struggled to publish any other works. His marriage to Vivian hit a rough spot the previous year, but with the impending birth of their child, they are committed to making a go of things. Tristan is absolutely stunned by her murder and his worst fears come true when Officer Woodhouse zeroes in on him as the prime suspect in her death.

Kala is not one to make waves so she is content to scrutinize Zoe’s unsolved murder. She is not as convinced as Woodhouse that the two cases are linked especially since the manner of death in each case is different. Kala is surprised when Lauren reveals troubling information about the long ago murder but with incomplete information, the new lead does not yield a new suspect. The one thing Kala is certain about is the killer (or killers) knows the McKenna family but with so little evidence in either case, she is uncertain whether or not they will make an arrest anytime soon.

With trouble brewing behind the scenes, Staff Sergeant Jacques Rouleau has no choice but to assign Woodhouse as the investigation lead. He is a bit dismayed that Woodhouse is determined to prove Tristan is the killer but he has complete confidence in Kala. When new evidence comes to light, Jacques fully supports her plan to try to unmask the murderer. Needless to say, everyone is on edge during a confrontation that leaks to an absolutely shocking confession by the killer.

Bleeding Darkness is an intricately plotted mystery that is quite riveting. Stonechild, Rouleau and the rest of characters (with one notable exception) continue to evolve and grow with each new installment of the series.  In addition to the mystery aspect of this newest release, Brenda Chapman incorporates a Romanian atrocity into the storyline through the back story of the McKenna’s neighbors.  Old and new fans of the Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery series are sure to enjoy this latest outing in which Kala once again shines as a police officer whose compassion puts her head and shoulders above some of her fellow officers.

1 Comment

Filed under Bleeding Darkness, Brenda Chapman, Contemporary, Dundurn, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Stonechild and Rouleau Series

One Response to Review: Bleeding Darkness by Brenda Chapman

  1. Timitra

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Kathy