Summary and book reviews of The 37th Hour by Jodi Compton

The 37th Hour

By Jodi Compton

The 37th Hour
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  • Hardcover: Dec 2003,
    336 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2005,
    352 pages.

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Book Summary

On a chilly Minnesota morning, Sarah comes home to the house she shares with her husband and fellow cop, Michael Shiloh. Shiloh was supposed to be in Virginia, starting his training with the FBI. A seasoned missing-persons investigator, Sarah is used to anxious calls from wives and parents. She's used to the innocent explanations that resolve so many of her cases. But from the moment she learns that he never arrived at Quantico, she feels a terrible foreboding. Now, beneath the bed in which they make love, Sarah finds Shiloh's neatly packed bag. And in that instant the cop in her knows: Her husband has disappeared.

Suddenly Sarah finds herself at the beginning of the kind of investigation she has made so often. The kind that she and her ex-partner, Genevieve, solved routinely -- until a brutal crime stole Genevieve's daughter and ended her career. The kind that pries open family secrets and hidden lives. For Sarah this investigation will mean going back to the beginning, to Shiloh's religion-steeped childhood in Utah, the rift that separated him from his family -- and the one horrifying case that struck them both too close to home. As Sarah turns over more and more unknown ground in her husband's past, she sees her lover and friend change into a stranger before her eyes. And as she moves further down a trail of shocking surprises and bitter revelations, Sarah is about to discover that her worst fear -- that Shiloh is dead -- may be less painful than what she will learn next...

In a novel of runaway tension, Jodi Compton masterfully weaves together the quiet details of everyday life with the moments that can shatter them forever. At once a beguiling mystery and a powerful rumination on family, friendship, and loss, The 37th Hour is a thriller that will catch you off guard at every turn -- instantly compelling and utterly impossible to put down.

Chapter 1

Every cop has at least one story about the day the job found them. It's not uncommon. Out on the streets, on duty or off, suddenly an officer sees two guys in baseball caps and sunglasses run out of a bank as if their heels were afire. By pure luck, there's an officer on the scene even before Dispatch takes the call.

With missing-persons cases, though, it's a little different. The people you're looking for, generally, are already dead, out of town, out of state, or in hiding. As a rule, they're not in highly visible places, waiting for you to all but run into them. Ellie Bernhardt, fourteen, was to be the exception that proved the rule.

Yesterday, Ellie's sister had come to see me, all the way to Minneapolis from Bemidji, in northwest Minnesota. Ainsley Carter was 21, maybe 22 at the outside. She was thin and had that tentative, nervous kind of beauty that seems proprietary to blondes, but today, and probably most days, she hadn't chosen to ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
San Jose Mercury News

The 37th Hour expands beyond the standard mystery to be a complex, multilayered exploration of morality and personal responsibility.... Satisfying.

The New York Times - Marilyn Stasio

Compton dignifies her characters by treating them like complex adults whose problematical relationships can't be resolved by straightening out a few loose facts. ''Everything I knew was wrong,'' Sarah says, after discovering the ''shadow self'' her husband couldn't bring himself to show her. With a murderer at large and Sarah working on her own in the dark, the suspense may be killing, but it isn't cheap. It's the profound terror of knowing you don't know a thing.

The Charlotte Observer

A very impressive debut.... Jodi Compton focuses as much on human frailty as on police procedure.

Library Journal - Jetta Carol Culpepper

The plot twists grow more and more incredible with each page in this impressive debut, the first in a series about Sarah. If in the future Compton sharpens the suspense and adds more depth to her plots, she could compete with writers like John Grisham and John Lescroart. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.

Publishers Weekly

Readers looking for perky heroines with sassy girlfriends and humorous man problems would best be advised to seek their mysteries elsewhere. Compton's world is complicated, shadowy and violent, with little cheer and only the barest traces of hope and resolution....This is first-class, serious crime fiction.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A dazzling debut about a missing-persons cop whose husband goes missing.....Watch this writer. She does it all plots intelligently, writes elegantly, and creates characters who compel attention the old-fashioned way-by making you believe in them.

Author Blurb John Lescroart
The 37th Hour is not just a masterful debut novel. It is a flat-out masterful work of wrenching suspense. Jodi Compton is a fine, fine writer who will be around for a long time to come.

Reader Reviews
Ashley Beamma

I think this is a great book to read for young and mature adult readers. It is a great book for anyone I think about the age of 13 to read. It does have some things younger childen might not uderstand! Be sure to buy the book! It's one worth reading!...   Read More

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