Monday, July 31, 2017

The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka

First Sentence:  “Matt said you find things. For a living,” the woman said on the phone.
Roxane—one ‘n’—has a reputation for being good at finding things.  Danielle Stockton’s brother, Bradford, is two months away from his execution date after being convicted for murdering the parents of a girl no one has seen since the crime.  Danielle believes she saw her recently and wants Roxane to find her and prove her brother’s innocence. 
What a pleasure to have a book whose story starts at the beginning and goes straight through to the end.  What a pleasure to have a book you definitely don’t want to put down until the last page is done. 
Lepionka has created a fascinating character in Roxane.  She is a wonderful study in contrasts with a complicated personal life.  A fair amount of time is spent focusing on her family and relationships which lays the foundation for our getting to know this well-drawn, fully-developed character.  It creates a strong enough interest that one really wants to know what will happen to her both in this book and in the future.  Yet, while Roxane takes center stage, those around her hold their own as well.
With every setting, a strong sense of place is created—“The previous tenant had painted spirited colors in every room:  a dark, shiny teal in the office, burnt orange in the bathroom, chocolate-brown walls and red cabinets in the kitchen, cornflower blue in the long hallway that ran the length of the apartment.”—which orients one to the character.  Even better is the author’s well-done, unforced dialogue—“He slid one of the shot glasses to me and held his up.  “Friends don’t let friends order cocktails invented by social-media interns.”
The suspense starts quietly, subtly, and builds at a good pace with red herrings along with way.  The body count also increases and includes a good twist.  The author is very good at having you follow the character down a path only to discover it’s the wrong path.
The Last Place You Look” is a great debut book with an excellent protagonist and a breath-catching climax.  It’s a book one wants to read in one sitting, and an author one may wish to follow.

THE LAST PLACE YOU LOOK (PI-Roxane Weary–Ohio-Contemp) – VG+
      Lepionka, Kristen – 1st book
      Minotaur Books – June 2017

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