“Gone for Good” is about a group of amateur sleuths who try to solve old murder cases. They call themselves “The Grave Diggers,” and are ordinary people from various walks of life who chat online, search archives, visit crime scenes, and accumulate notes in an attempt to find what others have missed. The group is focused on one case in particular, the unsolved murders of multiple women by “The Lovelorn Killer” who made headlines when he killed seven women over a period of a few years in the late ’90s, and then suddenly dropped out of sight. The Grave Diggers’ theory is that he has been watching and waiting for someone to find him. They want to get him back in the news, draw him out, and identify him. Everything changes when Grace Harper, The Grave Diggers’ primary researcher, is found murdered.
Detective Annalisa Vega of the Chicago police investigates but finds few if any clues even though Grace left behind all her research and hunches. Alternate chapters are filled with Grace’s case notes and observations. Vega’s investigation is both complicated and assisted by the return of her ex-husband, Detective Nick Carelli. They try to put the past aside and focus on solving Harper’s murder. The chain of events is complex, and the case becomes a quagmire that threatens to suck in everyone. The intensity increases when the body count rises. The killer is hiding in plain sight, known to everyone, but seen by no one.
“Gone for Good” revolves around the characters. They are multifaceted, and their decisions drive the plot. What each character does changes both the current situation and the ultimate outcome. I received a review copy of “Gone for Good” from Joanna Schaffausen, Minotaur Books, and St. Martin’s Publishing Group. The pursuit is frantic; events from the past must be settled in the present, and the ending is unexpected.