Review: The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka



Published by:  Faber & Faber

Publication date: 2017

Source:  Purchased

Sarah Cook, a beautiful blonde teenager, disappeared fifteen years ago, the same night her parents were brutally murdered in their suburban Ohio home. Her boyfriend Brad Stockton – black and from the wrong side of the tracks – was convicted of the murders and sits on death row, though he always maintained his innocence. With his execution only weeks away, his devoted sister, insisting she has spotted Sarah at a local gas station, hires PI Roxane Weary to look again at the case.

Reeling from the recent death of her cop father, Roxane finds herself drawn to the story of Sarah’s vanishing act, especially when she thinks she’s linked Sarah’s disappearance to one of her father’s unsolved murder cases involving another teen girl. Despite her self-destructive tendencies, Roxane starts to hope that maybe she can save Brad’s life and her own.

With echoes of Sue Grafton, Dennis Lehane and the hit podcast Serial, The Last Place You Look is the gripping debut of both a bold new voice and character.

“You know how it is, when you’re a kid and your parents do something,’ she said, ‘and it’s just like, whatever, but then later, when you grow up, you’re like, wait, that was actually really fucked up?”

After a period of reading some heavy, emotional books, I needed something of an escape so I turned, as I usually do in these situations, to the wonderful genre that is the crime/thriller.

The Last Place You Look is touted a ‘hardboiled, noir’ crime novel.  We follow a stereotypical private detective with a drinking problem, except this time she is a woman – a refreshing change.  I have to admit, I am a bad feminist and am not usually a fan of a female detective (sorry!!), but I found Roxane to be thoroughly likeable in all her faults.  

The mystery element of this book was engaging and kept me guessing.  We have a dude locked up in prison convicted of crime he and his girlfriend say he didn’t commit – same old same old … but I love it! For someone who reads quite a lot of crime fiction (and true crime), I am absolutely terrible at guessing the outcomes.  With this book, I thought I’d cracked it … but it turned out I was wrong again.  

Roxane has a crazy mixed up family (don’t we all!) and I found the interactions between the sibling to be quite realistic and true to life.  It is a pacy novel with plenty of action.  This is the first in a series and I will definitely be picking the next one at some point.  This was a good, fun read.

4/5 stars

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