Last Seen Alone
Berkley, September 2021
Mass Market Paperback
In Last Seen Alone, we meet Leigh Larson, a hard-driving ambitious lawyer with a law practice specializing in helping women dealing with stalkers, harassers, and revenge porn, and Brandon Reynolds, an Austin, Texas homicide detective. But the book begins with Vanessa Adams, a young woman meeting her contact in a wooded area to buy a gun from him. After concluding the transaction, Vanessa drives off but then pulls over to examine her new gun. As she does, she realizes there is a truck behind her slowing down and fearful she is being followed Vanessa takes off running into the woods and disappears.
When Brandon’s partner Antonio is called to the scene of the parked car, he finds a smear of blood on the open door. He and Brandon then decide to investigate but find no clues to Vanessa’s apparent disappearance. Nonetheless they ask their boss to classify the case as a homicide and let them continue investigating. Meanwhile they have met Leigh Larson who, citing attorney-client confidentiality, refuses to answer any questions about Vanessa or whether she is Leigh’s client. In fact, Vanessa approached Leigh some weeks earlier with what Vanessa described as a problem with her landlord. Leigh gave her some advice and when she heard nothing further assumed the matter was taken care of. However, upon return to her office after being questioned by Brandon, Leigh finds a signed retainer agreement and a check from Vanessa, but Vanessa doesn’t respond to Leigh’s phone calls.
The rest of this story is about both Leigh and the detective trying to find out what happened to Vanessa, a break-in at Leigh’s office, and various people who know Vanessa giving them little information. Along the way they discover a mutual passion for each other, although Reynolds is aware that Leigh is holding back but he doesn’t know why.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I like the premise but found Leigh annoying in her constant attempts to investigate on her own, putting herself in danger, and generally bumbling around with no clear plan or path. I also found the relationship between Leigh and Brandon annoying along with being somewhat hard to believe. A blurb on the book cover by author Jayne Ann Krentz, herself a romance writer, referred to liking “smart, sophisticated, fast-moving romantic thrillers….” I too like thrillers and find this book to have too much of the romance.
Reviewed by Melinda Drew, January 2022.