I was intrigued by the description of this book and the idea that a woman would return to the scene of a kidnapping after fourteen years to keep the unsolved crime active in the public’s eye. In this thriller, Her Last Word, by Mary Burton, Kaitlin Roe is haunted by the disappearance of her popular cousin, Gina Mason. At the time troubled teenaged Kaitlin was living with her aunt and cousin. Along with two other girls who were celebrating their graduation from high school, Kaitlin and Gina had gone to a local spot near the river. The girls got drunk and when it was time to go home Gina and Kaitlin were the last two to leave the site. Suddenly a man wearing a clown mask appeared on the road holding a knife to Gina’s throat. That begins Kaitlin’s ongoing nightmare as she struggles to recall the details of the crime as well as deal with her guilt at not saving her cousin.
More than just a gripping thriller, this book is an examination of Kaitlin’s PTSD, her guilt, and the way she is viewed by the townspeople and the two other girls who had been at the celebration. Unlike her attractive and popular cousin Gina, Kaitlin had a bad reputation, not entirely undeserved. As a result of the event, Kaitlin leaves her aunt’s home and returns to her hometown in Texas.
The author cleverly delivers the back story through interviews with the townspeople who were somehow involved in the case. From her aunt to the other two girls who had been at the river and even the detective who investigated the crime, Kaitlin is determined to create a podcast that might lead to the truth of the night.
As more murders occur while Kaitlin researches and interviews the players, accusing eyes turn in her direction once again. There are clues sprinkled throughout but they are seemingly unrelated to the kidnapper or what happened to Gina. With no resolution, had she been kidnapped and murdered, was she still alive somewhere and a victim of amnesia, had she set the whole thing up so she could escape her small-town life, Kaitlin struggles to make sense of all the clues. The suspects are many when viewed objectively. Gina’s ex-boyfriend, Kaitlin’s bad boy ex-boyfriend, Kaitlin herself, or a fellow student who was envious of Gina’s popularity all fall under the questioning eyes of police detectives.
Burton builds a solid mystery around a frightening event and its effect on the inhabitants of the town. Each character brings a question to the investigation and I even considered Kaitlin may have been guilty of killing her cousin. The fact that the latest murders only began after she returned to the town certainly makes her a viable suspect.
Her Last Word is a satisfying mystery thriller for fans of the genre. The revelations are well paced, and the story is interesting. When the entire event is explained and the criminal captured, it is a surprise. While not a heart stopper, it is a good book.
An unsolved crime pits a desperate woman against a relentless killer in New York Times bestselling author Mary Burton’s heart-stopping novel of psychological suspense…
Fourteen years ago, Kaitlin Roe was the lone witness to the abduction of her cousin Gina. She still remembers that lonely Virginia road. She can still see the masked stranger and hear Gina’s screams. And she still suffers the guilt of running away in fear and resents being interrogated as a suspect in the immediate aftermath. Now Kaitlin has only one way to assuage the pain and nightmares—by interviewing everyone associated with the unsolved crime for a podcast that could finally bring closure to a case gone cold.
But when a woman Kaitlin questions is later found stabbed to death; she fears that she’s drawn a killer out of hiding. It’s Detective John Adler’s fear that the murders have only just begun. Now his job is to keep Kaitlin safe.
As a bond between Kaitlin and Adler builds, the past closes in just as fast—and it’s darker than Kaitlin remembers. Soon, her wish will come true. She’s going to find out exactly what happened to Gina. Someone has been dying to tell her.