This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Mystery Romance, Romantic Suspense
Published by Montlake Romance
Released on January 14, 2020
A gritty death with ties to a dark past, a family keeping secrets, and a small Oregon coastal town ready to boil over when a pair of FBI agents rush to get to the bottom of things. Tension is high and the path to the truth has to twist and turn its way to the end before all is said and done. I wouldn’t have it any other way when it comes to a Kendra Elliot book. This one lived up to expectation and I’m thirsty for more.
The Last Sister is a standalone story in a new series. It does spin off an older series, Callahan & McLane, with Ava McLane as one of the FBI agents in this story and trading places with her partner, Zander Wells, who gets his story now.
Emily Mills’ employee at the diner is a no-show. When she goes in search of her waitress, she is confronted by a double killing that is reminiscent of her dad’s murder in the past. She believes the local sheriff is in over his head and calls the FBI not realizing just what she has woken up in her own past. She lost so much the night her father was murdered. Her mother, unstable at the best of times, took her own life, and her older sister Tara ran off and never came back. Her younger sister Madison shut down and goes about in a state of detachment. Emily never told a soul what she saw the night her dad was killed and the house set on fire- Tara hadn’t been at a friends. She had been there- in the woods behind the house that night. And, now its happening all over again- the hanging murder, the hate crime affiliation, and even the attempt to burn the Fitch’s home. She has to place her trust in cool-eyed and capable Zander Wells and his partner Ava to get to the bottom even if her sordid family history and secrets may come out after all this time.
Zander shows up in a small coastal town and finds a gruesome murder and the trail leads through some of Oregon’s darkest history with the Klan, White Supremists, and their legacy. He knows the Mills sisters and their Barton family are at the center of it all some how even though a seemingly unrelated couple are the newest victims. Ava says he’s getting too involved with his witness especially since she isn’t telling them all the truth. He tries to keep it professional, but there is something about Emily Mills who calmly spotted murder and knew her way around a murder scene and who took up the reins to hold her family together in the face of tragedy that got to him. He will find the truth and keep Emily- her sister and aunts- from becoming more victims.
I remember being how wowed I was when I picked up the author’s Mercy Kilpatrick series and learned about preppers and sovereign citizens for the first time. This time it was how White Supremacist groups had shaped the area as well as a little with the logging industry. She peels back more dark Oregon history once again in an insulated community on the coast. Her setting, situation, and characters are colorful and alive. Her suspense plot is immediate and palpable so that the reader is sucked in and kept close through the whole pulse-pounding story.
The focus is most definitely on the case, but there was no neglect of character and back story development. I got to know both Zander and Emily well. I could enjoy their subtle attraction and the beginnings of their romance. The author didn’t try to do too much with that by pushing it faster or harder than the situation warranted. There is a crime to solve and people are getting hurt so it worked best to focus on that, which she did. Zander comes with some baggage that is sad so Emily is not the only one who has quirks that come with her. I know it is just a small thing, but I liked that they found that level of understanding and empathy from each other. In the background were Emily’s equally quirky family who were bright spots in the story and her sister Madison even shared part of the narration with Emily and Zander.
As to the murder mystery, I was tracking along and assembling my clues- even getting a lot of it right- but the actual culprit? Not in a million years! And, that last big climax scene kept me riveted with all my senses engaged. Big money scene paid triple!
All in all, this was exactly my kind of romantic suspense even touching the history buff inside me while handling police procedure, forensic, and character development just right. I can’t recommend this author enough for those who enjoy a good romantic suspense, emphasis on the suspense.
I rec’d this book through Net Galley to read in exchange for an honest review.
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