Published by Berkley Books on 28th September 2021
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Up-and-coming attorney Leigh Larson fights for victims of sexual extortion, harassment, and online abuse. She is not afraid to go after the sleaziest targets to get payback for her clients. Leigh is laser-focused on her career--to the exclusion of everything else--until a seemingly routine case and a determined cop turn her world upside down.
Austin homicide detective Brandon Reynolds is no stranger to midnight callouts. But when he gets summoned to an abandoned car on a desolate road, he quickly realizes he's dealing with an unusual crime scene. A pool of blood in the nearby woods suggests a brutal homicide.
But where is the victim? The vehicle is registered to twenty-six-year-old Vanessa Adams. Searching the car, all Brandon finds is a smear of blood and a business card for Leigh Larson, attorney-at-law.
Vanessa had hired Leigh just before her disappearance, but Leigh has no leads on who could have wanted her dead. Faced with bewildering evidence and shocking twists, Leigh and Brandon must work against the clock to chase down a ruthless criminal who is out for vengeance.
‘Last Seen Alone’ is a standalone by Laura Griffin and I loved its premise to begin with: a missing woman whose business remains a mystery until the end; a lawyer tangentially involved in the case and a detective find themselves trying to solve what really happened the night she disappeared.
Griffin’s pacing is spot-on, as is her clever way of revealing only the things we need to know as readers, with the classic hints and draw-aways and red-herrings inserts. But there’s a distinct plot pattern that emerges from a portion of Griffin’s books: a meddling protagonist (verging on being TSTL) who shoehorns her way into police business because she thinks she knows better, and it’s within this very interference that an attraction develops.
Often both start at odds and stay that way because someone plays detective and pokes their nose into where it doesn’t belong, but the case does moves along because (and despite) of these developments such that there isn’t really a sagging bit.
I didn’t feel much affinity with the protagonists however; Leigh Larson’s ‘I-know -better-because-this-is-my-area-of-practice attitude’ got grating soon enough, more so when she deliberately put herself in danger because it felt like the ‘right’ thing to do, constantly ignoring Brandon’s warning not to do so. That Brandon Reynolds sort of gave her a free pass to it without her facing real consequences of her actions because of his attraction to her diminished the strength and integrity of their pairing.
‘Last Seen Alone’ did feel like a story that has been retold numerous times, with Brandon and Leigh as characters who somehow have found themselves on Griffin’s pages before, just with different names and appearances. Its familiarity might have bred a little contempt as is my confession here, simply because I thought Griffin could have done much, much better, especially with a piecemeal romance where both Brandon and Leigh are connected by the case, frequent meetings, and forced proximity rather than anything more.