The Last Goodnight
Grade : A

Kat Martin is a juggernaut of romantic suspense and one of the authors who got me hooked on the genre over a decade ago. She’s a master of packing a story with emotion, robust characters, and plausible mysteries that keep me reaching for her new releases every time.

The Last Goodnight is the first book in her Blood Ties series, and it’s set in the beautiful wilds of Colorado, about two-and-a-half hours from Denver. It’s the story of a badass lady PI and the reluctant cowboy who hires her to find the person who murdered his estranged wife eight years earlier.

The story gets off to a tense start as Kade Logan watches someone from the sheriff’s office pull his wife’s car from a lake. Right away we learn that Heather Logan was a repeat adulterer who packed up her Subaru Forrester the day Kade filed for divorce eight years before and was never seen alive again. We also learn her body was discovered two years later - obviously a homicide - and she’s buried in the town of Coffee Springs.  The perpetrator has never been caught.

But the discovery of the car reaffirms Kade’s decision to find Heather’s killer once and for all and he resigns himself to hiring Nighthawk Security, a company owned by the son of his father’s friend. There’s no improvement in his salty mood when he learns the private investigator assigned to his case is a beautiful young woman - Eleanor Bowman. He envisioned an older, seasoned detective, so Ellie, who grew up on a Wyoming ranch and is familiar with all the rugged responsibilities of ranch life, throws him for a loop. It also sets up a delicious tension between them, because there’s a simmering attraction from the onset.

Ellie integrates into her undercover assignment on the Diamond Bar Ranch with aplomb, filling in for the cook who’s on a month-long vacation. Working in the kitchen has the unplanned benefit of ready access to anybody coming and going on the ranch, and it gives her an excuse to run into town on a regular basis. She’s easy to talk to, and quickly sets about building her case.

Martin sets up a convoluted, complicated whodunnit. Ellie pulls no punches in her fact-gathering process, which is nice to read through. She’s intelligent and intuitive and asks honest questions of Kade that help her piece together the puzzle of the Logans. He’s a handsome man, which makes her quick to assume the infidelity was his. But you never know what quiet struggles a person goes through when they don’t want you to, and Kade is a very private man. The more Ellie learns about Heather through her conversations with the townsfolk, the more curious she gets. Like Kade, Ellie’s partner’s infidelity was the origin of divorce. They both understand that “passion made people do crazy things.”

As the story develops, more deaths occur – cattle on the ranch, other women in town – and the tension ratchets higher with alarming speed. I can usually figure out who did it early on, but not this time. The Last Goodnight is a solid story with little reprieve or down-time. I read that Martin has published over seventy-five books, and even after all this time she’s still writing fresh stories with exciting twists. It’s a reminder that for every exciting new author I discover, there’s a steadfast storyteller still killing it.

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Reviewed by Dolly Sickles
Grade : A

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : November 29, 2021

Publication Date: 10/2021

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