Book Title: The Last Time She Saw Him
Author: Jane Haseldine
Series: Julia Gooden Mystery #1
Genres: Suspense Fiction, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Contemporary
Date Read: 09/29/16
Pub Date: 06/28/16
Julia Gooden remembers nothing about the worst night of her life. Thirty years ago, her nine-year-old brother Ben—the person who promised he would always protect her—was abducted from the room they shared. Try as she might to recall any clue or detail, there is a black hole where Julia’s memories of that terrible event should be.
Now a crime reporter at a Detroit newspaper, Julia tries to give others the closure she’s never found. But guilt and grief over Ben’s disappearance have left her fearful that whoever took her brother is going to come back. Nowhere seems safe—not the city, not the suburbs, not even the secluded lake town where she plans to raise her children. And then, on the anniversary of Ben’s disappearance, Julia’s worst fears are realized when her two-year-old son, Will, is snatched from his bed.
Convinced that the crimes are related, Julia tries to piece together memories from her final day with Ben. Are the sudden reminders of her brother clues that will lead her to her son’s abductor, or merely coincidence? Julia knows she has hours at best to find Will alive, but the deeper she digs, the more personal and terrifying the battle becomes, and an undying promise may be her only hope of saving herself and her son.
This was a strong start to a new series featuring a relatable female character. I’ve always adored stories with a lead who is a reporter; it gives a different perspective of crime fiction than that of an officer in law enforcement. The author was kind enough to put this one on my radar and I’ve been eyeing it on my shelf until I was able to squeeze it in my timeline. I’m so glad I did, as it was well worth my time and energy. If you don’t have a copy of this one yet, don’t worry; they have a giveaway going on over at Goodreads and you can enter to win HERE!
Julia lives the unimaginable in this story; as a mother, I think she faces all of my worst fears in under 400 pages. First, her big brother whom she idolized was snatched right from their shared room and then her 2 year old son is kidnapped as well years later. Clearly the two must be related and so our adventure really begins. I’ll be honest, it did take me about 75 pages before I was really engrossed, but after that I was gripped until the very last page which had me looking forward to the next in the series, Duplicity, which doesn’t come out until March 2017 from Kensington Books. Side note- I’m loving the next book’s cover! It’s the perfect balance of gorgeous color and creep/eeriness.
There are all types of characters involved in this one that I do feel the need to list, as there might be triggers for some readers. No spoilers here; just a little heads up. There’s Ray Navarro who heads the police investigation and also was a former lover of Julia’s, Reverend Cahill (this may be a trigger as he is a convicted pedophile that Julia assisted in putting away), and Anita Burton, who is a psychic brought in to help with Will’s recent abduction. Going back to the reverend, he is tied into the story as he is receiving correspondence from Will’s abductors and the focus is mainly on that scenario. Again, nothing over the top, but for those with sensitivities to these types of triggers, you may want to tread carefully.
Overall, this was an engrossing story that held tight and finished strongly. I was very impressed with the development in the characters, but especially with our main character Julia, as she is portrayed with strength yet riddled with flaws. She was more relatable than most women written into this type of genre; typically they either consist of superhero strength and a flawless personality, or they are weeping willows who can’t survive without a man to support their every move. Julia fell into the appealing middle; as a woman I liked being able to relate to her while also admiring her. For those fans of suspenseful crime fiction with a strong female lead, look no further. I’m very excited to see where this series takes us!
*Many thanks to the author and publisher for my copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.