LAST KNOWN VICTIM by Erica Spindler

A couple of months ago I did a profile on one of my favourite authors, Erica Spindler. And tonight, I have another review for you. Last Known Victim was not necessarily a follow on from Bone Cold, but the Malone and Killigan family are key characters. In this sense, I suppose Spindler is like Karen Rose, in that they use the same characters over again, but you don’t necessarily need to read all the books in order.

In this novel, we are in post-Katrina New Orleans. Captain Patti O’Shay lost her husband Sammy in the aftermath of Katrina, and has spent the years since trying to avenge her husbands death. When an old freezer containing numerous severed right hands is found, the New Orleans Police Department dubb the killer the Handyman and launch into an investigation. With not much to go on, it doesn’t take long for the trail to run cold and the investigation to come to a halt, and Patti is forced to move on without truly being able to let go of her husband.

Fast forward a couple of years and a victim is found, half buried with Sammy O’Shay’s police ID. Time of death proves that whoever buried the girl also buried the ID, and the investigation is opened up. At the same time, a young stripper named Yvette is receiving increasingly odd notes from a customer who calls himself the Artist. Yvette is not aware that the new dancer, Brandi, is actually Detective Stacey Killigan (who’s sister features prominently in See Jane Die from 2004) undercover, working on a drugs bust that is centred on Yvette’s married boyfriend. Confused yet? I was. But that’s what makes it so grand. A human mind came up with these elaborate plots that all seem to be intertwined. And trying to stay one step ahead is damn near impossible as these connections are brought to light.

When links are made between the Handyman’s victim and the club that both Yvette and Stacey/Brandi dance at, the investigations become linked. Only for Patti, it’s extremely personal. Hell bent on catching her husband’s killer, she joins forces with Yvette, despite strong warnings not to do so, and to determine if the Handyman and the Artist are indeed the same person. But Yvette is not always honest, and she is hiding a dark background from those around her. When holes begin to form in her story, the police are forced to question her true involvement in the case. Is she just an innocent victim, or is there more to her than meets the eye? Or is there someone else out there, more twisted and tormented than Patti could ever imagine, who is hell bent on destroying her happiness by targeting the one thing she cares about most: her family?

I suppose you will have to read to find out. If my incessant rants about how brilliant Erica Spindler is have not encouraged you to pick up one of her novels (or borrow one from me!) then I don’t know what will. But, I assure you, you are missing out!

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