Title: Her Last Goodbye
Author: Melinda Leigh
Genre: Mystery Thriller
What it’s about: Morgan Dane has become part of Sharp Investigations, while starting her own attorney firm by renting a space from the private investigations firm. The firm, consisting of Morgan, Lance Krueger, and Sharp gets hired by Tim Clark, and by extension Tim’s in-laws, to find his wife, Chelsea Clark. She had left to meet a friends for dinner and drinks, excited to spend some time away from being a mom–the first since giving birth to their second child, William. Except Chelsea never made it to the restaurant nor did she return home that night. Tim searched for her, calling in the County Sheriff, when her car was spotted in a ditch near the Grey Hollow Train station. There’s no record of her ever getting on a train, and while their marriage was slightly strained because of the children, everyone who knows them says that she would have never left her children.
As Morgan and Lance dig deeper into the Clark’s lives, Morgan gets threatened with a harassment lawsuit by Harold Burns ,a registered level three sex offender. He continues to intimidate her, going so far as running into her at a grocery store while Morgan is shopping with her three year old daughter Sophie.
In the meantime, Chelsea survives a horrible beating at the hands of her captor, and gets branded with a hot iron in the shape of an infinity symbol. Despite her pain, her survival instincts kick in, and she manages to escape her captivity, running through the woods. She ultimately gets discovered crossing a road by a passerby. At the hospital, Chelsea is unable to provide Morgan, Lance, and the County Sheriff, with any details regarding the location of her captivity or her captor.
Then, another woman looking exactly like Chelsea goes missing, and someone breaks into Morgan’s house, threatening Sophie in order to get Morgan’s cooperation. Both Morgan and her daughter fight back, and at the feel of the gun against his back from Morgan’s grandfather, the assailant flees into the night. As a result, Morgan’s grandfather suffers a broken leg and undergoes surgery, leaving him in a coma.
As a result of the threat and the attempted coercion against her family, Morgan goes snooping around Harold Burns’ property with the assistance of Lance. They find nothing, so they trek through the dark woods to Harold brother’s autoshop, where they find a trailer with a lot more security than the remaining buildings on the property. As Lance investigates, he finds the missing woman from earlier, but a fight breaks out between Morgan, Lance, and the Burns brother. Morgan and Lance are able to gain the upper hand in the fight, with an assist with County Sheriff King. The brothers get arrested for kidnapping the woman, and additional information comes to light–this hasn’t been the first time they kidnapped and murdered a woman.
But something doesn’t sit right with Morgan.
So the next morning, Morgan, Lance and Sharp meet in the office at Sharp Investigations, to go through the documentation for Chelsea’s case, because the details that Chelsea provided to Morgan do not match with the items found on the Burns’ brothers property. As Morgan reads through the list of employees at SpeedNet, Tim’s employer, she realizes that the owner of the company, Eliot, left his brother Derek off the list. Further research conducted by Sharp and Lance’s mother reveals that Derek was a level one sex offender for voyeurism. Despite the information, Lance and Morgan attempt to check out Derek’s property, but are unable to find it. At that point, Morgan and Lance hatch a plan to catch Derek.
Chelsea is at home with Tim and her kids, but she no longer wants to be inside the house. Tim goes to check on their son, but doesn’t come back, and suddenly she hears a thud, which scares her.
The kidnapper creeps through the Clark house, and sees Chelsea from the hallway, leaning into the crib of her son. Tim is nowhere in sight, but the kidnapper decides to kill Tim to prove to Chelsea that she belongs with him. As he goes to grab Chelsea, someone steps out from the shadows, putting a gun against his back. Lance tells Derek to drop the gun, while Morgan takes the wig off, but Derek decides to escape. The chase ends quickly with Morgan dropping a branch on Derek before he was able to reach the street. When Lance catches him, Derek reveals that he had killed Elliot’s wife, Candace, because she refused to get over her addiction, and starts raving about how women need to be submissive in order to be happy. Elliot is also arrested by the County Sheriff because he had lied to law enforcement about Chelsea’s whereabouts, even though he knew what Derek did. It turns out that the boys were always close, with Derek protecting Elliot while Elliot took care of Derek, and to this day Elliot believes that Candace’s death was an accident.
My Verdict: The book is just as good as the first one, keeping with a similar format and style of introducing the characters. I love that we get to see the different perspectives from the various characters; however, the fact that this book follows the same format and trajectory as the first one made it very easy to discount the suspects that Morgan and Lance had regarding the Chelsea’s kidnapper. I knew it wouldn’t be any of the primary characters-Elliot, Tim, or Harold Burns. Still, the last person I expected was Derek, which goes to show that the three members of the Sharp Investigations team are consistently looking into the wrong places and are missing information until it’s almost too late. It goes to show that the author does a good job in keeping the air of mystery surrounding the perpetrator of the crime.
That said, it’s a little laughable that the County Sheriff department is not competent at finding people, missing little things like the necklace that was snapped off of Chelsea’s neck in the weeds. I don’t believe that law enforcement would miss something like that so easily.
One thing that I enjoyed was seeing Lance and Morgan’s relationship blossoming, and them getting closer. I definitely think that they work well together, and seeing both of their perspectives shows how much they care about each other as well as the important people in their lives.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, and cannot wait to read the next one in the series.