The Last Place You Look: A Mystery Hardcover – 13 June 2017
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- Publisher : Minotaur Books (13 June 2017)
- Language: : English
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250120519
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250120519
- Dimensions : 14.4 x 2.91 x 21.36 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 754,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
"Lepionka reboots the thriller genre with her troubled hero, Roxane Weary, a private eye with little concern for her own safety (or the gender of her shifting sexual partners.) The Last Place You Look riffs off Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane but finds a way to make detective fiction relevant again, in 2017. I have never read a more confident debut."--James Renner, author of True Crime Addict and The Man From Primrose Lane
"In The Last Place You Look, a talented new voice in crime fiction gives us the seedier side of a Midwestern community--and a character worth following anywhere she trespasses. A wonderful debut."--Lori Rader-Day, Mary Higgins Clark Award- and Anthony Award-winning author of The Black Hour and Little Pretty Things
"Roxane is a wonderfully complex character...This is a remarkably accomplished debut mystery, with sensitive character development and a heart-stopping denouement. Let's hope there are more Roxane Weary novels on the way."--Booklist (starred review)
"Introducing a fascinating protagonist who combats her emotional demons with the aid of sugar, booze, and sex, this suspenseful, original, and confident debut will please fans of the hardboiled PI genre."--Library Journal (starred review)
"Lepionka's debut confidently portrays complex characters with multiple, sometimes contradictory, motivations and offers an unusually naturalistic perspective on sexual identity."--Kirkus Reviews
"Action-packed...Lepionka has created an appealing, relatable lead."--Publishers Weekly
"Utterly superb--can't remember when I last read such an expertly written and perfectly constructed book that gave me so much pure reading pleasure."-- Sophie Hannah, author of Closed Casket and The Monogram Murders
"The Last Place You Look is a sharp, timely, and assured debut. Lepionka's got a real knack for character. Her protagonist, private eye Roxane Weary, manages to honor her literary predecessors while still crackling with originality and life."--Chris Holm, Anthony Award-Winning author of The Killing Kind and Red Right Hand
"Just when you think the PI novel is dead, Kristen Lepionka brings it roaring back to life. Roxane Weary is a richly drawn protagonist who proves that 'hardboiled' and 'feminine' aren't mutually exclusive. This book is so good it makes me jealous."--Rob Hart, author of New Yorked and City of Rose, and associate publisher at Mysterious Press
"The Last Place You Look is a beautifully written mystery, one I devoured in a single sitting, late into the night. I'll now follow detective Roxane Weary anywhere: into her hopes and fears, into her past, and--especially--into danger. An extraordinary debut novel."--Christopher Coake, author of You Came Back
"The P.I. at the heart of The Last Place You Look may be troubled and still green, but Kristen Lepionka's debut mystery is as confident and deft as they come. A moving, arresting novel."--Michael Kardos, author of Before He Finds Her
"In her daring debut, Kristen Lepionka blends traditional mystery with heart-stopping thriller elements to create something plenty original. The down-on-her-luck PI Roxane Weary battles her emotional demons to track down a human one, stumbling into plenty of trouble along the way. But she overcomes doubt in all its ugly forms, succeeding where others have failed. Lepionka exceeds expectations, as well, in this ambitious novel. With its memorable characters and surprising twists, The Last Place You Look will stay with readers long after they turn the last page."--Erica Wright, author of The Granite Moth and The Red Chameleon
"Seriously, this is a must read. I loved it."--Martina Cole, author of Close and Betrayal
"Kristen Lepionka spins a twisting, turning, enticing tale that keeps the reader guessing and turning pages to find out what happens next. "The Last Place You Look" is a promising first novel by a remarkable talent and you won't be disappointed if you look here first."--The Oklahoman
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Top reviews from Australia
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I can often pick the twist ending of these things but I didn't this time which was refreshing (if not a blow to my own ego). Bring on the next one.
I must admit initially I assumed there’d been other books in this series as we meet investigator Roxane at a point when she’s struggling. There are a few comments about her drinking and her father’s death so I wondered what I’d missed. However… Lepionka does a great job at eking out Roxane’s backstory – particularly her family history and her complicated relationship with her cop-father, Frank…. who was killed on the job nine months before this book kicks off.
Roxane’s a great character. Indeed, Lepionka’s shied away from over-achievers in this book (and series so far). Roxane and her two brothers all seem to be struggling a little though all in their mid-late thirties. I suspect we’ll learn more about their relationship with their father (and mother) as the series progresses but we meet her family a few times in this book (she’s particularly close to her brother Andrew) and get a peek at the type of man who raised them. Indeed it seems to have been something that shaped Roxane and she’s struggling with the fact her father viewed her as a disappointment.
We learn early that Roxane’s had both male and female love interests and meet her long-term on-again / off-again girlfriend in this first novel. There is – however – a bit of an a-ha moment on that front.
The plot itself is interesting and, although not-quite-addictive, I read it in a sitting. Roxane’s cynical about Brad Stockton’s innocence and his sister’s assertion that Sarah Cook is alive (and is somehow implicated in her parents’ murders). I expected the book to be more about the events around Sarah’s disappearance and her parents’ murders, but that wasn’t really the case. Rather, Roxane goes off on a tangent after discovering other young women (similar to Sarah) have disappeared.
She ends up with no shortage of suspects – including Brad who’s on death row and seems to have his secrets – but angers the local police force who seem irrationally angry about her investigation.
I’m not sure I found the actual conclusion entirely feasible – in terms of events of 15yrs earlier and Sarah’s disappearance as that part of the plot ultimately felt a little underdone. I was kept guessing, however, until Roxane herself worked it all out.
This is a great debut novel and I look forward to more in the series.
What happened to Sarah Cook? I found I was asking myself a lot as I read this debut novel. How can a young woman just vanish on the day her parents are brutally murdered?? Did her boyfriend murder the three of them? Did she do it? Did she run away? So many questions!!!
I really liked our main character Roxane (one “n” not two). She’s a head strong woman with two very different brothers – that’s possibly why I identified with her as I too have two brothers both different in personality. I loved the banter and disagreements she had with her brothers and the differing ways they handle the matriarch of their close knit family.
I hope to see more from Kristen Lepionka and Roxane! Its hard to believe this is the author’s first novel. The writing really drew me into the investigation. I’m not the biggest fan of crime thrillers set in the States but the author’s writing style is adding weight to the argument that I need to change my opinions!! As for suspects, I went up so many blind alleys and hit dead ends as Roxane dug more and more into the goings-on in Belmont – totally blindsided!!
The community in which Roxane finds herself has a proper small town feel – it’s a intimate community where the police seem to know everything that is going on. This is one thing that hinders Roxane in her investigation.
This is a cracking debut and I highly recommend you get yourself a copy if you like your crime fiction with bags of suspense to keep you guessing. I can see why Val McDermid has selected this novel for her New Blood: Class of 2017 showcase at this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival
Many thanks to Lauren Nicoll of Faber and Faber for my copy of The Last Place You Look.
Top reviews from other countries
Fifteen-years earlier black Bradford Stockton was placed on death row charged with stabbing Garrett and Elaine Cook, the parents of his younger, white girlfriend, seventeen-year-old Sarah. On that night Sarah also disappeared and has since been presumed dead. The case was closed in record time and appeared as open and shut as they come, with the bloodied weapon found in Brad’s car. His refusal to help himself and speculate that perhaps there was another side to the story didn’t help his cause and he has resolutely refused to contemplate Sarah’s involvement. However, a chance sighting of Sarah at an Ohio gas station sees Danielle hire Roxane to track her down. Glimpsed from across the road, in partial darkness and low on specific detail the odds don’t seem favourable. On the basis of the facts presented, Roxane concludes that Brad is more probably guilty and that his sister is delusional! Just where does Roxane go from here given the paucity of details and that Danielle’s companion on that night, Brad’s friend Kenny Brayfield wasn’t convinced by the fleeting glance?
Ever resourceful and undeterred, Roxane tracks down the private investigator who assisted on Brad’s trial, Peter Novotny, a man close to eighty who remembers Frank in his heyday and clarifies the specifics of the prosecution. Brad’s failure to offer an alibi, explain how the murder weapon found its way into his car and the absence of Sarah made for the very definition of reasonable doubt. As a licensed private investigator Roxane is allowed entry to the Chillicothe Correctional Institution, but Brad is loathe to play ball and answer the same questions that have plagued him and the fifteen-years that he has languished inside have made him cynical and left a slightly menacing air. Given his initial lack of cooperation and subsequent disclosure about his teenage misdemeanours along the lines of vandalism and his best friend, Kenny, being the regular supplier of weed in Belmont, he does’t appear anyone's idea of a paragon of virtue. As Roxane tracks down thee remaining Cook family relatives, asks around about the missing Sarah and is harassed by a silent and unknown heavy breather repeatedly phoning, she comes up against a brick wall fast, but the mysterious phone calls are enough to believe she has unsettled someone.. The Belmont cops are also keeping a close watch and inordinately concerned with her loitering in the area.
As any decent private investigator worth their fee knows, a different approach to a problem can pay dividends and Roxane takes an alternative angle, specifically by looking into the stabbing deaths in Franklin County and hoping to establish a pattern of similar crimes. Her initial probing reveals that her father was assigned to the remarkably similar case of high school dropout and young mum, Mallory Evans, which still remains unresolved. Tracking down Mallory’s husband and daughter she compares the overlap and similarities… and it isn’t just Mallory that seems to have gone missing and all within the small suburb of Belmont. As a location, Belmont smacks of small town suburban America where there are very few notable events and is clearly divided by an ‘invisible line’ which separates the poorer east side from the more affluent, and whiter, west side where the opportunities lie. Whilst Roxane does benefit from some truly fortuitous good luck in her endeavours, Lepionka also introduces a barrage of twists which offer potential for exploration and unexpected detours.
However tightly plotted and twisty this case proves, it is some outstanding characterisation that marks this debut out as something mighty special. Smart-mouthed and driven, Roxane Weary is the narrator and addresses her audience throughout in an engaging conversational style. Underneath the spiky and witty exterior, she is hugely self-doubting and in fact rather vulnerable. Roxane is the epitome of a self-deprecating modern female struggling to cope with keeping her life on the straight and narrow. However, it is not just Roxane who magnetises, every one of the supporting cast are pinned down and leave a strong impression, from rich boy and would be gangster, Kenny Brayfield to confused teenager, Shelby Evans.
In the final third of this novel, when Roxane is stymied by the Belmont police after numerous run-ins and eventually arrested for criminal trespass, the pace does seem to abate with things becoming a tad repetitive and the plot takes a pause for breath. All credit to Lepionka however, as she leads her readers a merry dance into the denouement, placing one alternative scenario clearly in the frame only to then unleash a totally unexpected conclusion. With one-n as opposed to two, edgy, nosy and impatient Roxane Weary is a modern day heroine to applaud and I look forward immensely to seeing her in action once again!
Review written by Rachel Hall (@hallrachel)
Please Ms Lepionka do not leave us Roxane fans hanging for too long.....
I know I can use the term "us Roxane fans"......because there will be thousands of us clamboring for the next adventure....
An outstanding debut novel....I read it straight through.....could not put it down....Roxane Weary is an amazing protaganist and I almost feel like I know her in real life.......I do know I want to be her......PLEASE hurry and release her next book as I am already getting withdrawal symtoms.....
An amazing....twisting....funny ....breathtaking....suprising novel from an extremly talented author
Not read this author before so I’ll definitely keep an eye out for more.