Friday, November 3, 2017

For the Last Time (Sharyn Howard Mystery #5)

Author:  Joyce and Jim Lavene
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Paperback
ISBN #:  9780803495487; 9780373268344
Worldwide Mystery
251 Pages
Prices Vary
June 1, 2002


Buried in the past - An unsolved murder closed the Bell's Creek campground 25 years ago, and now, despite rumors that the land is haunted, the camp is about to be reopened.  Final preparations are underway when a woman's bloodstained dress is found in a tattered old suitcase.  The discovery means that Sheriff Sharyn Howard will have to solve the murder that confounded her grandfather, the sheriff who investigated the crime.  At the time, there were no clues, no motive and no witnesses.  The new evidence leads Sharyn to consider a shocking possibility -- a double murder.  But digging into the past does more than reopen old wounds, it lures a killer out of hiding...a killer who's still desperate, still depraved -- and more determined than ever to eliminate any chances of getting caught.


Sharyn Howard is the sheriff of Montgomery County and has a couple of problems.  She hasn't decided whether she's going to run for another term; and more pressing, her younger sister Kristie is opening a youth camp that's been closed for 25 years.

Bell's Creek campground was shut down when a 12-year-old girl was murdered, and the killer was never caught.  At the time, Sharyn's grandfather was sheriff, and not being able to find the killer haunted him so much that he didn't run again.  Even though Sharyn's not happy with the reopening, she can't stop it.

When a reporter is injured shortly before the opening - tripping over an item that turns out to be a suitcase long-buried - Sharyn opens it and discovers a bloody dress and other items.  Sending it to the coroner for examination, she finds that the blood doesn't match that of the dead girl, and now they have what is possibly two unsolved murders.

When Sharyn and her crew begin investigating, they find that someone else was missing from the camp; someone who was never reported.  And from all appearances, the killer is more than likely the same one who killed the little girl - and is still out there.  Will Sharyn be able to find a killer who's managed to stay hidden for a quarter of a century?  Or will she be the next victim...

I felt that this book was written very well, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  This is the fifth book in the series, and I have not read any of the others.  While I wouldn't be opposed to reading more, I will probably not seek them out.  Sharyn and her deputies have a strong relationship with each other, but as for her personal relationships - with her mother, sister, and Nick, who wants to be more than friends - I didn't feel there was any connection; or in Nick's case, any attraction to each other.  In fact, Sharyn seemed rather bloodless.  Her emotions are so under control (even in a harrowing situation she feels no panic at all) that it was difficult to get to know her, to understand what drove her to act the way she does.  Yes, we are given background on why she became sheriff; but it doesn't seem enough to tell us why she stays

The mystery was interesting, and I was surprised at the murderer and the reason for the killings.  I felt that it never really made any sense, but then again, a killer's mind doesn't have to.  Still, a very good mystery.  Recommended.


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