Surprise. Surprise. I’m reading a live author.* The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka won the 2018 Shamus Award for Best First Private Eye Novel. I know it’s un-hip to consider award winners, but the Shamus Awards happen to give me ideas for new private eye authors.
So, what about the book?
Roxane Weary is a bi-sexual, cop’s daughter, borderline alcoholic private eye with Daddy issues in Columbus, Ohio. She feels like a real, breathing person… but layered with enough of the mythical private investigator archetype to keep me interested. She isn’t so tied to ‘realism’ that we watch her spend 200 of the 300 pages of the book doing web searches.
If the above description of Roxane gives you pause. Let me say there is no political, or social justice posturing here (I am bleeding heart liberal, so maybe it can’t see it). Roxane is just the person I described above. Lepionka does an excellent job of not turning this into didactic fiction. It’s a detective story.
And it’s a good one.
Roxane is hired by a woman, whose brother has two more months on death row. The woman believes she has seen the missing daughter of the two people the brother was convicted of killing. Simple case, find the mysterious missing daughter (hadn’t been seen in a decade). Like most good PI stories, the set-up case is just a trigger to drop the detective into a bigger, more dangerous case. The Last Place You Look has that in spades. There is a key element of the case that really isn’t my thing. I can’t share that without spoiling the book. However, I will say in Lepionka’s hands that quibble disappeared. This one has a truly effed up (in a good way) ending.
I look forward to reading the next in the series.
*I also read another indie author’s book, too, but it was a lot more literary than I write about here, and I’m not sure I’m worthy of writing about it