Title: Her Last
Author: Valerie J. Patterson
Publisher: Eternal Press
Released: July 2009
eBook ISBN: 978-1-926704-16-6
Print ISBN: 978-1-926704-25-8
Length: 6,200 words (short story)
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Coroner Olivia Corfont and Inspector Chet Gavin have a tough case on their respective tables. Carla Jamison, a popular teacher, has been killed, and there’s very little evidence to go on. Each talented in their own way, the pair are determined to solve the mystery. Follow them as they use varying techniques to check out a number of hypotheses and leads.
An analysis of Her Last by Valerie J. Patterson, from the perspective of a reader: The story presents an entertaining puzzle full of interesting characters. It flows well and is written with authority. I also found it believable. I was, however, disappointed by the way the crime was solved (more about this below).
From the point of view of an author and editor, I was pulled out of the story by some unusual sentence structures, a few of which left me feeling like the author was mixing tenses. Another bothersome issue was the choice to reduce setting to words rather than description. For example, Patterson sets one of her scenes with the phrase “pro shop.” This assumes the reader has been in enough golfing pro shops to be able to create a clear mind picture of such a place. The author also misses a chance to create atmosphere. Such choices regarding exposition seem to be a growing trend, especially among small presses. I don’t like it. And finally, the mystery is solved when the main character accesses a memory of the initial crime scene. This, alone, isn’t a problem. And such an occurrence is completely plausible. My problem with it is as follows... Part of the fun of reading a mystery is trying to solve it before the author reaches the denouement. By not weaving the important clue into her opening, Patterson made it impossible for the reader to outwit her and/or the investigative characters. I consider this a critical mistake.
Patterson has talent, and Her Last is a respectable writing effort. I hope to see stronger performances from her in the future.
Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye
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