Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Last to See Her

The Last to See Her
  The Last to See Her
Author:  Courtney Evan Tate
Publication Information:  MIRA. 2020. 352 pages.
ISBN:  077830941X / 978-0778309413

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review for the Fall 2020 mystery/thriller blog tour from Harlequin Trade Publishing.

Opening Sentence:  "Genevieve tipped the courier and set the certified letter on the coffee table."

Favorite Quote:  "Sometimes, beauty came from pain. Beginnings came from endings. And new lives came from old ones that had come to an end. Her old life had taught her so many things. She would treasure them as she lived her new one."

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The cast of characters: Genevieve - romance novelist, wife, sister. Thad - Genevieve's recently-ex husband. Meghan - doctor, wife, mother, sister. Joe - Meghan's husband. Jenkins - the private detective. Nate Hawkins - the police detective.

The mystery: Genevieve and Meg are on a sister's trip to New York City. On the first night of the trip, Genevieve disappears. There is no body. There is no trace of her. Murder? Abduction? Suicide? Something else all together?

The background:  Genevieve and Thad had a solid marriage until they didn't. They are newly divorced after Genevieve dragged out the process of signing the papers. Joe and Meghan are a solid couple, or are they?

The revelations: Who is sleeping with who? Who thinks about sleeping with who? Who suspects someone sleeping with someone? Who holds a grudge against who? Who harbors secrets of their own? The short answer - everyone! Secret households. Secret relatives. Secret relatives with secrets of their own. Secret affairs. Secret dreams. Secret pasts. Secret plans for revenge. The question is what each chooses to see, what each seeks to avenge, and what each lets go of. "I'm not delusional ... I know what the world is. I just choose to see the best in it." True or not? And for whom? I leave you to figure out and to decide.

The last to see Genevieve before she disappears is literally Meghan. The question, of course, is what happened to Genevieve and who is responsible? Given the small cast of characters, this book is more family drama than suspense. The first part of the book sets up this drama between husbands and wives and between sisters. Unfortunately, the drama starts to lose me with descriptions such this relationship:  "____ was sweet and docile, a golden retriever. Somehow, for some reason, ___ came to realize she preferred Dobermans...a fierce man who could protect his woman." Men, dogs, relationships... really?

Then, the story ventures elsewhere. Some aspects of this book are completely unbelievable. Yes, I realize it is fiction but nevertheless fiction that feels real creates a story. In this book, there is the police officer who gets personal, crossing all boundaries of professional ethics, with someone who could be a likely suspect. Then, there is the character whose actions do not match the stated description of their mental ability. The most likable and most genuine character ends up the private detective whose role is critical to the resolution of the mystery and yet tangential to the who-done-it question in that he is never a suspect.

If you choose to suspend all disbelief, the book read quickly and easily. It traverses past and present to show how Genevieve, Meghan, Thad, and Joe all arrive to the point of Genevieve's disappearance and what role they each play. The journey to that one is an interesting one fraught with family betrayals.

The thing that bothers me the most about the book is the resolution of the who-done-it. Without a spoiler, I will say that it does a disservice to a conversation that has serious implications for services and help that people may need. The treatment of this issue in the book is negative and, to my mind, an unnecessary answer to the mystery. The same resolution could be had with a completely different explanation, creating a character with much greater depth and interest. So, partly entertaining, partly annoying, and partly disappointing.

About the Book

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Courtney Evan Tate's The Last to See Her (MIRA; 12/29) is a twisty, fast-paced domestic suspense about sisters, secrets and betrayal--for fans of B.A. Paris and Riley Sager.

Genevieve, a writer, is about to finalize her divorce from her cheating husband Todd. So when her sister Meg, an ambitious physician, has a convention to attend in New York City, she invites Gen along to celebrate her return to single life. It will be a perfect sisters' getaway in the big city! But things go awry when, on their first evening at the hotel, Gen decides to take a late night walk and disappears without a trace. Eventually she is officially declared a missing person.

Suspicion soon falls on her sister Meg, who was the last person to see her.

Through twists and turns, it is revealed that Meg has been sleeping with her brother-in-law Todd... And then there is a question of a newly purchased insurance policy that just has just gone into effect before Gen’s disappearance. Both Todd and Meg deny any knowledge of it.

But has an actual crime been committed? Can it be proven? And if so, who is really the guilty one?

About the Author

Courtney Evan Tate is the nom de plume (and darker side) of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Courtney Cole. As Courtney Evan Tate, she is the author of Such Dark Things and I'll Be Watching You. Courtney grew up in rural Kansas and now lives with her husband and kids in Florida, where spends her days dreaming of new characters and storylines and surprising plot twists and writing them beneath rustling palm trees. Visit her on Facebook or at courtneycolewrites.com.

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