In The Last Close Call, Laura Griffin once again brings a romantic suspense filled with intrigue and danger, as well as a fascinating look into the lives of professionals who work with the police to solve crime.
It’s a fast-paced story that’s part suspenseful mystery, part police procedural, and part romance.
Rowen is a forensic genealogist who has sworn off the soul-crushing pace of police work for the more fulfilling task of reuniting long-lost relatives and families separated by adoption.
Jack is a violent crimes detective working on a cold case with a trail that just picked up and needs help identifying the perpetrator.
After coaxing Rowen to help with the case, sparks fly between them as the clues and crimes start accelerating.
What I like about Laura Griffin’s novels is that you can count on her for a quick read with a plot that moves forward with every page. Not only does she include police procedures throughout, she also includes scientific or legal aspects that are explained in a way that anyone can understand.
Sometimes the romantic attractions feel a little instant, but does that really matter when you’re working in dangerous situations and need to find a killer before time runs out? No, I think not.
In this case, Jack and Rowen are likable characters who have their own issues keeping them from wanting a relationship. Their chemistry is well-written, feels believable, and the tension simmers throughout much of the story.
If you haven’t tried a Laura Griffin procedural and like reading about crimes solved by science, this one is for you. It’s a standalone, has drama, twists and turns, and a nice romance to boot. Great for a first-timer!
A chime emanated from Rowan’s purse. She pulled out her phone and read a text from the Austin lawyer whose client Rowan had been working for all week.
Got your email. Omg TY!!
The words were followed by three halo emojis, and Rowan felt a swell of pride.
Anytime, she texted back. So glad I could help.
This attorney had sent her three referrals over the past six months, and now there would likely be more on the way. Rowan’s anemic bank account was finally getting a boost. It couldn’t come soon enough. Her December credit card bill had just come in, and she hadn’t even wanted to look at it.
She jerked her head up as a man stepped over. Tall, broad-shouldered, dark hair. He wore a black leather jacket with droplets of rain clinging to it. Rowan darted a glance at Lila. Her friend didn’t look up, but she lifted an eyebrow in a way that told Rowan she’d sent this guy over here.
“Who’s asking?” Rowan responded, even though she had a sneaking suspicion she knew, based on his deep voice. Not to mention the super-direct look in his brown eyes.
“Jack Bruner, Austin PD.” He smiled slightly. “Mind if I sit?”
She sighed and nodded at the empty seat across from her.
He slid into the booth and rested his elbows on the table. He looked her over, and she managed not to squirm.
“You’re a hard woman to reach.”
Ha. He had no idea how true that was.
“How’d you know to find me here?” she asked.
“Ric Santos told me you hang out here.”
She couldn’t hide her surprise at the mention of Ric. She hadn’t known they were friends. But she probably should have guessed. Law enforcement was a tight-knit group.
She gave him what she hoped was a confident smile. “Look, Detective, I appreciate you coming all the way out here, but I’m afraid you’ve wasted your time.”
A command, but not. When combined with that slight smile, it was more like a statement. Something she was going to do, even if she didn’t realize it yet.
Rowan felt a surge of annoyance. But again, she gave him a nod.
Sasha appeared at the table and rested her cocktail tray on her hip. “Can I get you something to drink?” she asked the detective.
“A Coke, please.”
She nodded. “Rowan?”
“I’m good, thanks.”
She walked off, her cascade of blond hair swinging behind her.
Rowan settled her attention on the detective.
“I’m with APD’s violent crimes unit, as I mentioned on the phone,” he said.
With every call, he’d politely identified himself and given a callback number. Rowan had called the number once and-equally politely-left a message with her response. But he’d stubbornly ignored it.
“I’m working on a case,” he said, “and I could use your help.”
Rowan nodded. “Like I told you before-“
He held up his hand and gave her a sharp look. Listen.
“It’s a serial offender,” he continued. “Eight sexual assaults.” His dark brows furrowed. “This guy’s careful. We’ve only recovered one DNA profile, the second attack in the series.”
“If you’ve only got one profile, how do you know it’s the same guy?”
Sasha was back already with a flirty smile. She placed the detective’s soft drink in front of him, and he nodded his thanks.
“Because we know,” he said after she left.
Rowan looked the man over. He had an athletic build, but not the steroid-infused look she was used to seeing with young cops. Then again, he wasn’t that young. The touch of gray at his temples told her he was maybe ten years older than she was, probably late thirties. Or maybe it was the wise look in his eyes that told her that.
She sipped her drink and waited for more.
“A while ago we had the sample analyzed by a genetic genealogist,” he said. “Spent a lot of money and time on that. They ran into some kind of wall, and the results were inconclusive, they said.”
“What’s ‘a while’?”
“How long ago did you have it analyzed?”
He hesitated a beat.
Rowan’s breath caught. In terms of DNA technology, four years was like four decades. A lot had changed in that time-new techniques, new tools, new profiles in the databases.
But she tried to keep her face impassive as she folded her hands in front of her.
“I appreciate your effort to track me down,” she said. It told her a lot about what kind of detective he was-precisely the kind that had prompted her to shift careers. “But unfortunately, I don’t do police work anymore. You could say I’m retired.”
“That’s not what Ric told me.”
She gritted her teeth. Damn it, she’d known doing him a favor would come back to bite her.
“Ric said you’re selective, not retired.” He paused, watching her. “He told me you gave him an assist recently and that your help was invaluable.”
“I know what you’re doing,” Rowan said. She was immune to flattery, even from smooth-talking detectives who liked to play head games. “And I can appreciate the pressure you guys must be under with a serial case. But I’m not in that line of work anymore.”
He leaned forward, and she eased back slightly.
“Let me be straight, Rowan.” His eyes bored into hers. “I need your help right now. Not next month or next year. Not whenever you get bored with what you’re doing and decide to come out of retirement. I don’t care if I sound desperate. I’m on a ticking clock here.”
Her stomach tightened at his words. And his prediction that she would backtrack on her career change irked her.
But he held her gaze across the table, and she felt that inexorable pull that had turned her life upside down too many times to count.
Excerpted from The Last Close Call by Laura Griffin Copyright © 2023 by Laura Griffin. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved.
Thank you for the advanced copy of THE LAST CLOSE CALL by Laura Griffin. All opinions are my own.
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date published : October 24, 2023
pages : 336
audiobook narrator: Stephanie Németh-Parker
audiobook length: 8 hours and 26 minutes
A talented genetic analyst and a detective who’s haunted by an elusive cold case team up in the new standalone romantic suspense from New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin.
Forensic genealogist Rowan Healy has made a name for herself by helping investigators trace the family trees of violent criminals who have eluded justice for years. But the pressure of police cases left her burned out, and she’s shifted her focus to helping adoptees find their biological parents.
Austin detective Jack Bruner has spent his career successfully tracking down vicious criminals—with the notable exception of the West Campus Rapist, a meticulous offender in Texas who has never been identified. When the latest two victims come to light, Jack sees his target is escalating his violent behavior—and only with Rowan’s help does he stand a chance of cracking this case.
Moved by Jack’s dedication and the brutal details of the attacks he lays out, Rowan agrees to help. When her ground-breaking DNA research sheds new light on the criminal’s background and helps them zero in on a search radius, Rowan and Jack must race against the clock to find a ruthless killer who’s growing bolder the longer he evades the law.
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