“Last Seen Alive”

Serial killer, victim, cop

“Last Seen Alive” is the story of people searching for answers for others so they can have answers for themselves. The book opens in the aftermath of a terrible and gruesome event — the hospital, FBI agent, the arrest.  It is not her fault she survived, not her fault they died. For Abigail Ellery Hathaway, age fourteen, the story is not finished; he does not get to win. She was supposed to be the last, but after twenty years, she is not.

“Last Seen Alive” is told in alternating stories filled with complex personal relationships, raw emotions, trauma, and memories. TV viewers love a serial killer, and Kate Hunter wants to give them every gory detail. Infamous serial killer Francis Michael Coben loves an audience and is ready to tell all, provided, of course he gets his way. What does he want? The one thing kept from him, Abigail; the one that got away.

Things change dramatically when there is another death, just the same, every detail, and then there is another. Coben is in jail. How can this be?  Ellery long ago dropped “Abby” to avoid the association with the books, the movies, and, well, everything.  However, her scars gave her a superpower, the ability to see right through trickery, and she is now a detective. This is HER case now. Out of all the people on the planet, she is the one Coben could never fool; he will not win.

Schaffhausen tells the story in vivid, thought inducing language:

                The tall trees rise up like a castle wall, shielding the hotel from the road beyond. They enter the belly of the beast, deep inside the concrete walls. Fear crashes over her, an ocean wave from behind, nearly taking her off her feet.

“Last Seen Alive” starts slowly then systematically escalates until the chase becomes a frantic race against time and a killer. I received a review copy of “Last Seen Alive” from Joanna Schaffhausen, St. Martin’s Press, and Minotaur Books. I was surprised to discover that this is book five in the series. I had no trouble following the events, and now I want to go back and read the previous four books.