Last Writes: A Forensic Handwriting Mystery
by Sheila Lowe
Review by Gayle Surrette
Signet Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451231109
Date: 06 July 2010 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Claudia Rose's friend Kelly Brennan calls her in to look at a note written by her brother-in-law, Rodney Powers. Her sister, Erin, who she hadn't seen in years, has dropped in, desperate to have Kelly's help in finding her husband who has run away with her daughter, Kylie, rather than have their daughter miss out on going to a special school run by the church.
Claudia is really worried by what she sees as tendencies in the hand-printed note. She and Kelly decide that they need more information and go to a meeting to learn more about this church and their compound. They are both determined to help save Kelly's niece -- a child taken from her mother.
This was a hard story to read. Well written with characters and subject matter handled with an even hand, we learn about the membership and tenets of The Temple of Brighter Light. When Kelly and Claudia visit the compound they find things are not as they expected, the people are mostly friendly and open, the head of the order is concerned and caring and seemingly not looking to be worshiped himself. But all the while you get the impression that things are not what they seem -- and that takes a deft hand when writing a book on such a hot-button topic.
As the third book in the Forensic Handwriting Mystery, there's a growing list of reoccurring characters. This book gives us a look into Kelly Brennan's background and some of the events that shaped her life. We also learn about her family and why we've heard so little about them in the other books. This circle of people close to Claudia are not only there to fill out the background but are becoming individuals important to Claudia as confidants, friends, and support in time of trouble.
Since the beginning, we've known that Claudia has a soft spot for children in trouble and so Kelly, a sharp lawyer, and Claudia don't think twice before jumping in to do what they can to retrieve Kelly's niece. If they were not so anxious to save the child they might not have gotten into so much trouble.
Of course, Claudia's boyfriend, a homicide detective, is willing to help a bit, but he's more interested in keeping Claudia out of trouble as he's seen her through several near misses over the previous books.
The ending may be a total shock for some readers and will find that they can't quite get the scenes out of their minds. Others may only be reminded of so many similar incidents that have been portrayed in the evening news. However, you'll find yourself remembering this book long after you read it; whenever people seem to accept what they are told without thinking about it, when things seem to good to be true, or when they're told to just accept without questioning.