Wicked, wicked Gerrie Ferris Finger. Her latest thriller, The Last Temptation, is filled with deception and lies. She tries to kill off her main characters, but they fight back. The Last Temptation is a worthy follow-up to The End Game. That novel won the St. Martin’s Press/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel award. It was a fine way to start. But, this one is so much more twisted.
Moriah Dru is an ex-cop who owns Child Trace in Atlanta. Most of her business comes from the state’s public safety agencies when she’s hired to look for missing children. In this case, the court is handling an on-going custody battle between two parents, Bradley Whitney and his ex-wife, Eileen Cameron, when Eileen and her daughter, Kinley, disappear from their Palm Springs, California home. Although juvenile judge Portia Devon doesn’t like Whitney, she hires Dru to find Kinley and bring her home. Dru doesn’t like her client, either, and has her staff, along with her lover, Lieutenant Richard Lake, check into her client’s past. The deeper they dig, the slimier he appears, but they can’t find enough on him before Dru has to fly to Palm Springs to talk to people who might have known Eileen.
Nothing feels right to Dru in Palm Springs, from the policeman who greets her at the airport, and seems too chummy with the missing woman’s movie director husband, to an Indian artist named Tess who is related to everyone on the local reservation and the chef with the fake French accent. No one seems to want to talk about Eileen and Kinley. Everyone in the small circle seems to be connected. Dru feels as if they’re keeping secrets from her, and that feeling is heightened when she accompanies Tess to a ceremony and spots a young girl who doesn’t seem to belong. Before she can ask questions, Dru feels herself getting sick. That sickness is followed by kidnapping, fire to a jeep, and the greatest danger of Dru’s life. When Dru tries to report her story, no one is willing to believe her, not even Lake.Dru is sure Eileen is dead, but there are too many suspects, and Kinley is still missing.
When she returns to Atlanta, Dru forces herself back into the case, working with Lake on the continued investigation of her own client. The two find themselves caught up in a coast-to-coast investigation. Who do you trust when everyone is lying, and even the client can’t be trusted? Before they can find a solution, the investigation takes an odd turn, and a resolution becomes personal.
Finger’s The Last Tempation has one of the most unusual cast of potential villains I’ve come across in a long time. But, they’re perfect for this book filled with odd characters. Gerrie Ferris Finger captures the reader’s attention immediately with a case involving missing girls. And, just when you think you know where she’s heading, she adds a twist. The Last Temptation is a thoughtfully crafted mystery with the heart-stopping moments of a thriller. (And, anyone who reads the book will understand the heart-stopping turn of phrase.) There’s always possibilities for stories in cases involving children. Let’s hope Gerrie Ferris Finger and Dru have a number of stories in their future.
Gerrie Ferris Finger’s website is http://gerrieferrisfinger.com
The Last Temptation by Gerrie Ferris Finger. Gale. 2012. ISBN 9781452825898 (hardcover), 370p.