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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

You Always Come Back

Narrator: Andi Arndt

Dreamscape Media

ISBN: 9781639105861

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Publication Date: 10/10/2023

Format: Audiobook & e-book

My Rating: 4 Stars (ARC)

In the vein of Kathleen Barber and Julia Heaberlin comes an electrifying debut suspense that pits the inhabitants of a small town against each other.

Nine years ago, July Weaver’s little sister was one of the first victims of the Pacific Lake Killer, a serial killer in Georgia. When other girls began to disappear and were found dead, it was July’s testimony that put her own father into prison for the crimes. After the sentencing, she fled to Nashville to focus on her music career and to try to forget the horrible past. But when her brother tries to kill himself, July is forced to come back home and reunite with her four remaining siblings.

What she isn’t expecting is to uncover new evidence that makes her question everything that happened to her sister nine years ago. Is it possible that July blamed the wrong person? Is it possible that the Pacific Lake Killer is still out there? As the linchpin to the case against her father—and the reason the Pacific Lake Killer case is closed—July knows it isn’t long before the killer will set their eyes back on her.

If they’re really still out there.

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My Review

Emily Smith's debut, YOU ALWAYS COME BACK, takes her protagonist back to a small town in rural Georgia, where her younger sister was the first Pacific Lake serial killer's victim.

The past and present collide in this atmospheric, haunting, gripping psychological suspense of family, deception, loyalty, and murder.

July Weaver left her Georgia hometown years ago and has never looked back. The Pacific Lake Killer murdered her younger sister and other women. July's testimony put her father, Harry, in prison.

She now lives in Nashville, focusing on her music career and trying to put her dysfunctional family and the horrors of the past. She cannot face the lake that killed her sister and the other dead girls.

The Weaver family includes six siblings (two/twins), all named for the month they were born. Auggie and April are home with their mother, Kathy.

Kathy, the mother, has a long history of mental illness. However, her brother Mark calls her to come home regarding the youngest brother, Deck, who has attempted suicide and is detoxing in the psych ward.

July, the protagonist, is the eldest. From past to present, we learn about her sister May and the events of the murder and other women.

However, there is new evidence, and now she is questioning that possibly her dad did not commit the murders. If she was wrong, the real killer is still out there.

Who will be next? They all are in danger.

YOU ALWAYS COME BACK explores family relationships, loyalty, good vs. evil, complex family dysfunction, and mental health where no one seems to be as they appear—a chilling tale of buried sins and dark family secrets.

If you enjoy Southern twisty small-town family dynamics, crime, and mystery with a twist of Gothic, this is for you. I am looking forward to seeing what comes next!

I read the e-book and listened to the audiobook narrated by Andi Arndt for a captivating experience.

Thanks to Dreamscape Media for an ALC and Crooked Lane Books for an ARC via NetGalley for an honest opinion.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: Oct 10, 2023

My Rating: 4 Stars


“A great psychological thriller that hits all the right notes. Strong writing, and great characters make this a good fall novel.”

—Red Carpet Crash

“Emily Smith’s psychological thriller You Always Come Back is a tense, absorbing, heartbreaking, and absolutely unputdownable debut; a masterful portrait of what may well be the ultimate dysfunctional family. Smith’s quirky yet realistic characters along with her gorgeous prose grabbed me from the first page, while her expert plotting and her unique take on the challenges of escaping a less-than-perfect childhood kept me enthralled until the very end. Highly recommended!”

―Karen Dionne, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of The Marsh King’s Daughter and The Wicked Sister

“Emily Smith’s You Always Come Back is one of those very rare debuts that forces you to lean over and read every single word. A family drama in the ranks of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, Smith’s story follows July Weaver’s reluctant return to her family home after vowing never to do so. And who would blame her? The Weaver family has a sordid and heartbreaking past, culminating with the patriarch in prison for a series of murders. Smith’s writing is sublime and, in July Weaver, she pens a fierce, vulnerable, and flawed protagonist who ranks amongst the most memorable in modern-day thrillers. This is a story that will stay with me for some time.”

—Carter Wilson, USA Today bestselling author of Mister’s Tender’s Girl

“Strong character-driven novel from a writer with a deliciously strong, unique voice. One of the most satisfying reads I've had in a good while.”

—Alex Marwood, award-winning author of The Killer Next Door

“Stunning and accomplished, You Always Come Back is the serial killer story we’d all love to write. Following July and her perfectly-drawn, dysfunctional family, it weaves a tale of trauma and doubt as it crosses between present day and the awful events all those years ago. Compelling and heartbreaking and more than a little bit horrific, I read it breathless for the final, desperate, conclusion.”

—Sam Holland, author of The Echo Man

About the Author

Emily Smith is a New Jersey native, who pursued her BFA in Dramatic Writing at NYU and her MFA in Creative Writing at American University. In her spare time, she enjoys writing novels, gardening, reading, and caring for her rambunctious Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.

YOU ALWAYS COME BACK IS HER DEBUT NOVEL Coming Oct 10, 2023 by Crooked Lane Books.







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