The Last Place You Look: an intense case introduces Roxanne to readers

The Last Place You Look book review

What is this about?: Roxane Weary is a PI hired to find a woman who has been either dead or missing for 15 years by the sister of her alleged killer. So, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher, to say the least. But as Roxane delves into the case, she discovers that all is not what it seems in this small home town where Sarah Cook disappeared, and who seems intent on ensuring her killer Brad remains in prison.

What else is this about?: Roxane Weary. This is an introduction to Roxane, her family and all her hang-ups. Which I’m explaining badly, but I swear, she’s one of the most compelling new characters in this genre.

Blurb: Sarah Cook, a beautiful blonde teenager disappeared fifteen years ago, the same night her parents were brutally murdered in their suburban Ohio home. Her boyfriend Brad Stockton – black and from the wrong side of the tracks – was convicted of the murders and sits on death row, though he always maintained his innocence. With his execution only weeks away, his devoted sister, insisting she has spotted Sarah at a local gas station, hires PI Roxane Weary to look again at the case.

Reeling from the recent death of her cop father, Roxane finds herself drawn to the story of Sarah’s vanishing act, especially when she thinks she’s linked Sarah’s disappearance to one of her father’s unsolved murder cases involving another teen girl. Despite her self-destructive tendencies, Roxane starts to hope that maybe she can save Brad’s life and her own.

With echoes of Sue Grafton, Dennis Lehane and the hit podcast Serial, The Last Place You Look is the gripping debut of both a bold new voice and character.

Stars: 4/5

Roxane is the heart of The Last Place You Look. She’s a PI, lugging around a heap of baggage that author Kristen Lepionka unfurls slowly through the story. This introduction runs parallel to Roxane’s case, and her search for a woman who has been dead for 15 years. Or alive, as Danielle, Brad’s sister, swears she’s seen her at a garage.

Roxane

Roxane, away from being a PI, is the core of this story. She comes from a family of two brothers, and a parents who had more problems than they might have been happy, from what we learn in this story. I think she wanted her father’s respect as a cop and a PI, and she wanted him to be proud of her, but like it usually happens, time runs out and they never did connect the way she’d hoped.

She’s in love with Catherine, an ex who stole her heart, stomped on it but Roxane goes back for more. She knows she shouldn’t, but she does, compelled by her hold over her. We learn of a little of how she and Catherine got together, but also how they fell apart, and you’ll understand why Roxane is still trapped by the web Catherine weaves. Thing is, Catherine knows exactly the hold she has over Roxane as well, which makes you want Roxane to run in the opposite direction alot.

Roxane is sleeping with her father’s former partner, and despite her insistence to the contrary she does care for him. Whether they could be more than that, readers are never sure, but neither relationship Roxane is in are healthy. The difference is Tom isn’t playing mindgames with her.

Her family is complicated, with her arguing with her brothers more common than bantering. They have their common ground, but there’s something simmering beneath their relationship the book hints at, but it isn’t meant for this book. Her mother hovers in the background, criticising her and never quite being the motherly type, you’d hope she’d have, and maybe wanted.

Everything about Roxane is compelling to me, even if she’s making the worst mistakes. It’s the same intensity that she takes into the case.

Brad and Sarah Cook and Roxane

15 years ago Sarah Cook’s family was killed and the knife found in the trunk of her boyfriend’s, Brad’s, car. Since that time, Brad has been on death row, and with his execution two months away, Danielle his sister comes looking for help because she swears she’s seen Sarah alive. Roxane takes on the case, knowing it must be a lost cause but unable to say no — there must be a reason for what Danielle saw.

As the case progresses, and she finds herself revisiting old witnesses, she brings a different POV to an old case, not necessarily to Brad’s advantage. She persists, finding the case growing bigger than Brad and Sarah, and more terrifying in a way.

This is one of those books that I started and the next thing I know, I was at the end.

Roxane is utterly, utterly compelling with the author balancing her family and her case, resulting in well-rounded character I could not get enough of.

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