Pros: The mystery definitely sucks you in! Interesting characters; plenty of misdirection
Cons: None for me
Rating: 5 out of 5
Review copy (uncorrected proof) courtesy of Penguin Group.
Expected publication date: April 7, 2009.
Lyons’s Warning Signs still hadn’t sated my desire for procedurals, so next I picked up Carla Cassidy’s Last Gasp. Allison Clemmins is a single mom and a teacher, and she’s still heavily in denial about the events of the day, years ago, when her father supposedly killed her mother and her younger sister and brother and tried to kill her. She’s never been to visit him in prison and only wishes he’d gotten the death penalty instead of life without parole.
Then one day a man named Seth Walker arrives in town claiming that her father might be innocent, and her mother’s killer might still be free. Allison doesn’t believe him, but she finally agrees to help him track down some information, hoping that it’ll put any last doubts she might have to rest. It doesn’t help that Seth is a caring and compelling man that even her son adores, and she finds herself becoming closer to him, despite knowing he’ll be leaving town when everything’s over.
It seems, however, that their investigation is upsetting someone. First a handful of cats are found dead, then neighborhood dogs. Someone rather forcefully tries to warn Allison away from her investigations, and it quickly becomes clear that she’s going to learn things about her parents that she didn’t want to know. Before long nearly everyone seems to become a suspect, but when a new set of killings rocks the town, the question on Allison’s mind becomes—was it the same killer who killed her family, thus proving her father’s innocence? Or is it a copycat, thus opening up a whole new list of suspects who weren’t around at the time of her family’s death?
I got caught up enough in the events of Last Gasp that I read it in the space of a single afternoon. I tend to pick up on the identity of a killer in a murder mystery fairly quickly, but this is one of the few books that kept me guessing until the last. Suspicion was spread around with a wide net, but it was done believably. This was simply a town full of normal people, all of whom have their secrets and their desires and their odd quirks just like everyone else.
The development of the relationship between Seth and Allison—both emotional and physical—was organic, believable, and sweet. Allison’s son is given a natural and equal part in the development of that relationship, which made it seem all the more real.
This is an enjoyable book on a romantic level, and a fantastic murder mystery.