I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Last Close Call by Laura GriffinThe Last Close Call by Laura Griffin
Published by berkley on October 24, 2023
Genres: Contemporary RS
Pages: 309
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
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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.

I really like this author’s Texas Murder Files series, so I thought I’d give one of her stand-alones a shot. A lot of her books take place in Texas, and they really do feel like they’re in the same world, even if they aren’t the same series, which I find cool.

Rowan has quit police work, and is trying to get her fledgling company off the ground. As a forensic genealogist, she’s worked with the police, but she hit burn out and is instead working with adoptees to help find their birth families. Until Jack. He’s been hunting a serial rapist for almost a decade. He wants Rowan to look at the data to see if she can find anything new. He’s heard that she’s the best, and he thinks this guy has struck again. Rowan isn’t ready to dive back into police work, but something about Jack tugs to her. So she does, and she does some amazing work. They get their first solid lead in years.

I realize that a lot of detective work is boring, and I realize that stakeouts are long and uninteresting. But writing it as long and drawn out as this book had made you feel like you were on that stakeout, and not in a good way. The pacing of this book was different than her others. This book is really a lot of police stakeouts, police work, and less romance than normal. I’m kind of bummed out about that. But it’s not a bad book, it’s just not my favorite by this author.

One thing I really struggled with was Rowan’s constant hot/cold with Jack. The other thing was the ending of the mystery. It was so easy, especially since this author tends to have an intense mystery with good police work, and a solid collar at the end. This time around it felt like, oh. that’s it? It’s really done? We still have a lot of pages left, though. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. It didn’t. That’s not a bad thing, but with the pacing of the book, it did feel abrupt. The romance was fine. It was okay. Usually there’s more sexual tension, more romance, and more intense mysteries.

This book was a solid 3 for me. I liked it. I will definitely read more by this author, and I look forward to her next Texas Murder Files story.

***ARC courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley