Bookouture | 2017 | 362p | Review copy | Buy the book
A young girl is found murdered, tortured, in a dumpster. Her femoral artery has been cut. DCI Erika Foster is the first senior officer on the scene (for reasons she would prefer to keep quiet) and she feels immediately drawn to the case. But, thanks to her uneasy and combative relationship with her superiors, Erika is confined to desk duty, suffering her contemporaries to be promoted above her. Erika isn’t one to give in without a fight and so she is determined to force her way onto the investigative team. She manages it in the end but for reasons that she has no wish to celebrate.
It turns out that the murdered girl is not the first victim of this killer and nor is she the last. As another girl is snatched and then another one, the pressure builds on Erika and her loyal team to solve the case before time runs out. Long days, dogged determination, hours of legwork following the most flimsy of clues, these all build up as the pressure mounts.
But we know something that Erika Foster doesn’t. Last Breath isn’t so much a whodunnit as a Willshecatchthepersonwhodidit crime thriller. We’re several steps ahead. We know who the killer is – it’s no secret – and we watch him pick his victims and cover his tracks. Then we wait for Erika to put the pieces together. The narrative moves between detective and killer, building the tension, while letting us into these two very different minds. It is such an intriguing story. The murderer’s character is particularly fascinating, especially in the ways that he interacts with those around him and selects his victims. It’s a chilling portrait of evil.
Last Breath is the fourth novel in the Erika Foster series but it stands alone very well indeed. There is development from the previous novel, Dark Water, in Erika’s personal story, which is one of great sadness moving a little towards the light, but the murder mystery stands on its own. And it’s such a good one. Having said all that, the hugely likeable Erika is a strong reason for the success of this and the other novels in the series. It’s so good to see her opening up a little with her colleagues and friends in Last Breath.
I thoroughly enjoyed Dark Water but I do think that Last Breath is even better. It’s a great story, told very well indeed, and driven forward my characters, both good and evil, who hold our attention from the very beginning and refuse to let it go.