Have you read The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St James and need a plot summary? Looking for a list of characters? Want to discuss the ending? Welcome to my Spoiler Discussion for The Book of Cold Cases on Jen Ryland Reviews!
Welcome! Here’s some help if you’re looking for something specific!
Table of Contents for the Spoiler Discussion for The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
Plot Summary for The Book of Cold Cases
Setting: Arlan Heights, Oregon.
Shea POV, 2017
Shea Collins is a bit of a loner, which could be explained by the fact that someone who tried to kill her is in prison but coming up for parole. She runs a website on cold cases. One day, a patient in the doctor’s office where Shea works looks familiar. Shea realizes the patient is Elizabeth Greer, who was accused of murdering two men in the late 1970s and leaving taunting notes behind. Beth was tried and acquitted and has kept a low profile. Shea follows Beth and asks her if do an interview for the cold case website.
Shea discusses the Lady Killer Case with Michael, a friend and a former cop, though they have never met in person. (I am ALL OVER this fact, assuming he’s a catfish.) They discuss the fact that there was no forensic evidence except the fact that the bullets that killed the two men were from the gun that killed Beth’s father. There was a witness to the second murder, but he had been drinking. Michael clearly believes that Beth is guilty, and a sociopath. He warns Shea not to trust her. Late that night, Beth calls Shea and says she’ll agree to the interview.
Beth POV, 1977
The police interview Beth is interviewed about her whereabouts on the nights of the murders. She says she was drinking and can’t remember. She says she did not know either victim and does not own a gun. They tell her a witness saw someone with her description driving a car near the site of one of the murders. She denies it.
Shea POV, 2017
Shea looks over some of her files from Beth’s murder case. She thinks a man is watching her, but it’s just the ex-husband of a woman named Alison. She heads to Greer House for her interview. The house is like going back in time to the 1970s. Beth said the entire trial was full of lies. The press thought she was sleeping with her lawyer. Beth asks Shea why she doesn’t drive, and Shea tells Beth that when she was nine, a man in a car tried to abduct her.
Beth talks about the time of the murders. Both her parents had just died and she was partying a lot to forget. Shea asks to use the bathroom and realizes that was the room where Julian Greer’s body was found. Shea notices that strange things are happening in the house, like water taps being turned on and cupboards being opened as if by a ghost. (Uhhh.. weird. I was not expecting a paranormal book.)
Beth POV 1977
The press is hounding Beth. Ransom, Beth’s parents’ lawyer shows up to convince her to hire him. He asks if she told the police about her mother’s “history” and she says no.
Shea POV, 2017
Shea is on the phone with Michael, discussing her interview with Beth. She suggests that Shea has telekinetic powers, which could explain the strange happenings at the house. She tells Michael that she’s on her way to interview Joshua Black, the lead investigator in Beth’s case. Michael mentions Black’s work on the murder of Sherry Haines, a name which seems to upset Shea.
Black tells Shea he remembers her from the Sherry Haines case. He says that he thought the notes left by the Lady Killer were reminiscent of The Zodiac Killer, and that it was odd that the killer left behind a note. Black points out that the murders were unusually brutal, with the victims shot in the head. He says that while there were several high profile serial killers in the 1970s, few were women.
Black admits he doesn’t think he thinks Beth is guilty. He says he went over her father’s case, and he doesn’t see any evidence that Beth killed him either. Shea recalls Beth’s comments about her mother Mariana being “trapped,” but keeps this to herself. Black says he agreed to talk to Shea because of her involvement in the Sherry Haines case.
Alison leaves her cat on Shea’s doorstep. Shea calls Michael to report on her interview with Black and her desire to interview Sylvia Bledsoe, Julian Greer’s former secretary. Michael tells her that Bledsoe has been married three times and changed her name. (This also makes me suspicious!)
Shea meets Sylvia, who tells her that Mariana’s parents left their money to Julian because Mariana was mentally ill. Sylvia says that Mariana spent time in a psychiatric hospital on Linwood Street. Back at home, Shea re-plays her interview with Beth and hears a sinister whisper on the tape say “I’m Still Here”. Then the entire thing gets erased.
Beth arrives at Shea’s office and wants to take her to lunch. Shea asks Beth about Mariana’s mental illness, and Beth angrily says Sylvia is lying. Shea has dinner with her sister and also agrees to have a drink with Michael … in person.
Beth POV 1977
Beth goes out drinking, reflecting that her parents were heavy drinkers. Detective Black comes and insists on driving her home. He does, and asks her why she is covering up someone else’s murders.
Shea POV, 2017: Michael and Shea Finally Meet!
Michael and Shea meet. He tells her that his father was a cop at the time of the Lady Killer case, and thought Beth was guilty. Michael says if Beth didn’t commit the murders, she definitely knows who did. Shea wants to tell Michael about the day she was almost abducted, but decides against it.
Shea and Beth have another interview. They discuss the fact that the handwriting analysis comparing Beth’s handwriting to the notes left by the killler was inconclusive. They discuss the witness who says he saw Beth at the second scene. Beth lets Shea see the bedrooms in the house which she has left unchanged. She’s finds a note that says I’m Still Here. Then a bunch of ghostly/spooky things happen. Shea asks Beth: who is she? And Beth says Shea has almost figured it out.
Beth POV 1977
Someone named Lily calls Beth and says the police are coming to arrest Beth. Lily tells Beth it’s all her fault. Lily is Beth’s sister?
Who Was the Serial Killer in the Book of Cold Cases?
Shea POV, 2017: She thinks she knows who the killer is!
Shea calls Black, who tells her she needs to testify at the bail hearing of Anton Anders, who is presumably the man who tried to abduct her. She then tracks down the records on the Elizabeth Trevor House for Women on Linwood Street, but realizes it wasn’t a psychiatric hospital but a home for pregnant unwed women. Shea goes to meet Michael and tell him that she thinks Mariana had a secret baby before she married Julian. She thinks that this half-sister of Beth’s is the one who killed Julian and the two men.
Finally, we meet Lily!
Beth POV 1960
Mariana introduces Beth to her cousin Lillian. Beth’s parents fight about Lily, who lives with foster parents and shows up at holidays. When Beth is a teenager she finally gets Lily to confirm that they are half sisters, not cousins. Beth tells Lily that all Mariana’s family money went to Julian. Lily ages out of the foster care system and disappears.
Shea POV 2017
Beth says she suspected Lily was a murderer after the mysterious death of a groundskeeper. In March 1973, Julian stopped paying Lily blackmail money. Then Beth told Lily she didn’t want to get married, and right after that, someone shot Julian dead. Shea interviews Ransom, who tells her that when Julian died, Lily came to Ransom demanding money.
Beth POV 1973
Beth and Lily go shopping shortly after Julian’s death. Lily shows up and Beth wants to tell Mariana that Lily killed Julian, but she can’t.
Beth POV 1977
Black visits Beth in prison and asks who she is protecting. Lily calls and Beth recalls the night Mariana died: Mariana mixed pills and alcohol and crashed her car.
Shea POV 2017
Shea and Michael meet up to go over the folder that Ransom gave her. In it, they wonder if they’ve found clues to Lily’s other victims. They wonder if one of them, Laurence Gage, was Lily’s father. At work, Shea picks up some dropped medical files and peeks inside Beth’s to discover that Beth has a brain aneurysm. Then she finds a newspaper article about remains found in town of a young woman dead for at least 25 years. She tells Michael that that the remains must be Lily’s.
Beth POV 1977
Beth is searching for Lily and comes across one of her murder victims. That’s why a witness saw her at the scene.
Shea POV 2017
Shea calls Beth, who admits to killing Lily. She tells Shea to ask Lily about it. Shea goes to the house and suddenly is reliving Lily’s crime. She watches Lily kill Thomas Armstrong and then Lily tries to kill Shea by throwing her off the cliff into the ocean.
What Happened to Lily in The Book of Cold Cases?
Beth POV 1978
Beth is released from prison and returns home. Lily is there, taking a bath, and says she’s staying. Beth tells Lily that she knows Lily killed all the victims, plus her biological father, Laurence Gage. Beth hits Lily with an ashtray and then holds her under the water until she’s dead.
What is the Ending of The Book of Cold Cases?
Shea POV 2017
Shea manages to summon help and is taken to the hospital. Michael is there when she wakes up. She admits to Michael that she was the intended victim of Anton Anders, and when she got away, he killed another girl. Then she tells Michael that Lily killed Laurence, Thomas, Paul, and Julian, and that Beth killed Lily. Because of Shea’s research, the Lady Killer cases are re-opened. Shea publishes an article about Beth and her family.
Beth is unhappy about all the new publicity. She calls Shea and says that she’s paid enough for her crime. That Lily will never let her leave Greer House. Beth points out that if she hadn’t killed Lily, Lily would have gone on murdering people, including Joshua Black.
DNA testing shows that the body of the woman Shea thinks is Lily is indeed a relative of Beth. Shea testifies at Anders’s parole hearing, and his parole is denied. Beth sends Shea the shawl she wore when she was acquitted.
One year later, Shea sees a news report that Beth Greer died, probably from the aneurysm. Someone bought the haunted Greer house.
List of Characters in The Book of Cold Cases
Julian Greer and Mariana Pattinson Greer – lived in Greer house in the 1950-1975. Both died after that, Julian in 1973 in a home invasion and Mariana in 1975 in a car accident.
Shea Collins – twenty-nine, divorced, a crime victim, runs a cold cases website, works at a doctor’s office.
Esther – Shea’s sister. Married to Will.
Michael – PI and former detective who consults with Shea. She has never met him in person.
Elizabeth “Beth” Greer– accused of murder at age 23, now in her 60s
Lily Knowles – Beth’s half-sister, daughter of Laurence Gage and Mariana Greer
Alison – woman Shea meets who was deciding whether to leave her partner. Gives her a cat.
Thomas Armstrong – Elizabeth’s first victim
Paul Veerhoever – Elizabeth’s second victim
Laurence Gage – Lily’s biological father, killed by Lily
Ransom Wells – family lawyer for the Greers
Joshua Black – local detective on the Lady Killer case
Melvin Washington – state police detective on the Lady Killer case
Sylvia Bledsoe – Julian Greer’s secretary
Anton Anders – the man who tried to abduct Shea as a child
Sherry Haines – the girl killed by Anders when Shea got away. Shea was known as Girl A, both to protect her identity, and I think also because she was the first intended victim.
Spoiler Discussion for The Book of Cold Cases
There was a lot I liked in this book (you can check out my Review of The Book of Cold Cases here) but in the Spoiler Discussion I like to discuss the book as a mystery.
My theories about the book as I was reading:
Michael was a catfish. I think that would have been a good twist, but not for poor Shea. I was fine with him being her only friend!
There was a secret baby. At first I thought Shea might be Beth’s daughter (or Lily’s) but the math didn’t really add up for me. I was happy to be partially correct.
Sylvia Bledsoe was somehow involved. In something. What happened to her three husbands, anyway? I thought she might be the serial killer, rather than dead Lily.
What are your thoughts about the paranormal aspects of The Book of Cold Cases? I’m not usually a fan of ghost stories. I did think that Lily’s ghostly presence made her more a part of the story.
I did think it was a nice reveal that Beth was a murderer, just not the murderer of the people that everyone thought she killed.
What are YOUR questions, comments, and thoughts? I really hope you will tell me in the comments. I read all comments, and if you hit the little bell next to your comment, you’ll get notified when I (or anyone) replies to what you have to say. If you want to follow the entire discussion (with or without leaving a comment) just use the drop-down menu above the comment box!