Title: The Last Gasp
Author: Chautona Havig
Series: Ever After Mysteries, book 1
Major Themes: Murder, California, Movie-Making, Hollywood, Theater, Roaring 20s
Synopsis: Why are people falling down dead from gunshots around Gary and Lucinda?
Murder mysteries are not my favorite genre, by any means. I usually steer clear of them. I don’t like reading about blood and gore and people dying, and since much of my reading time is the 15 minutes just before I go to bed at night, I don’t like to read very many books that are so gripping that I dream about them all night (that’s not very conducive to a good night’s sleep!). However, if Chautona Havig writes a murder mystery, I’ll read it—I know I will enjoy it, and I won’t end up dreaming all night about the story, trying to solve the mystery. At least, most of the time I won’t. Chautona’s most recent mystery, The Last Gasp, has a few scenes that aren’t pleasant, but overall it’s a delightful story.
Gary Prinz, also known as Garrison Prince, reigns as Hollywood royalty after starring in another new film—but today he is resigning. He has made up his mind to go to Bible college and become a pastor, and Mr. Walker, the head of Imperial Studios, is not happy about it.
Lucinda is making a modest living for herself selling candy and cigarettes at the Taj Mahal Theater, and spending time during the day with her friend Gary. She thinks he is about to propose, and has determined what her answer will be. Tonight, though, she has to work, being careful, as usual, not to look at the faces of the elite she sells her wares to, even though Garrison tries to catch her attention.
When a shot rings out at intermission and an actress falls dead, and three more people end up dead before the night is out, no one can figure out a motive—much less who might have killed them. Lucinda is dumbfounded when she is arrested for the murders—why would anyone think she might have been responsible? And who was being aimed at, anyway? Was Mr. Walker really that unhappy with Garrison? Lucinda, herself, wasn’t very happy when she discovered that her Gary was actually Garrison Prince. Why had he concealed that information from her? Could she really trust him?
As I said, I don’t enjoy the bloody part of a murder mystery. I was glad that part only took up a few pages! On the other hand, though, as I’ve read before about stories like this one, it’s satisfying to see evil brought to justice. The author did a great job of concealing the real murderer until nearly the end of the story, and weaving a delightful romance through the story at the same time that the investigation is going on. She was able to weave genuine faith in God throughout the story, too, in a way that I loved. I also loved the child who comes into the story! If you enjoy gentle, clean romantic suspense, don’t miss this story. It’s good!
I received a review copy of this book from the author, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
WARNING: People are shot in Chapters 3, 5 and 6.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults