Gone For Good is the first in a new mystery series from award-winning author Joanna Schaffhausen, featuring Detective Annalisa Vega, in which a cold case heats up.
The Lovelorn Killer murdered seven women, ritually binding them and leaving them for dead before penning them gruesome love letters in the local papers. Then he disappeared, and after twenty years with no trace of him, many believe that he’s gone for good.
Not Grace Harper. A grocery store manager by day, at night Grace uses her snooping skills as part of an amateur sleuth group. She believes the Lovelorn Killer is still living in the same neighborhoods that he hunted in, and if she can figure out how he selected his victims, she will have the key to his identity.
Detective Annalisa Vega lost someone she loved to the killer. Now she’s at a murder scene with the worst kind of déjà vu: Grace Harper lies bound and dead on the floor, surrounded by clues to the biggest murder case that Chicago homicide never solved. Annalisa has the chance to make it right and to heal her family, but first, she has to figure out what Grace knew―how to see a killer who may be standing right in front of you. This means tracing his steps back to her childhood, peering into dark corners she hadn’t acknowledged before, and learning that despite everything the killer took, she has still so much more to lose.
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What I Loved
What didn’t I love about this book? Gone for Good is the best procedural I read so far this year and quite possibly ever. It’s not just a police investigation run by a policeman with very little character development. It is a complete story of family, love, and oh, yeah, there’s a serial killer who’s back.
The serial killer investigation provided all the thrills and chills I could have ever asked for. It starts with a murder, ends with multiple arrests, and everything in between kept me on the edge of my seat. The pages never stop flipping fast and furious, as there are no lulls in the story, which is remarkable considering the other aspects I’m going to tell you about that I loved.
The journal entries from the murder victim that the story opens with are such a great touch. Grace is a member of the Grave Diggers, an amateur detective group that looks at cold cases and tries to solve them. She wanted to explore the case of the Lovelorn serial killer, although it is a no-go for the rest of the group. She kept a journal that of her investigation that is interspersed page by page throughout the story. This gives the investigation an unexpected dimension and provides insight into a character that we wouldn’t usually get to know. And, I just loved it!
The family story of the lead protagonist, Detective Annalisa Vega, is tied up with the serial killer investigation, so you get a wonderfully detailed, layered, and complex look at the characters and the dynamics of the family unit. The family members’ stories are laid bare, and their personalities shine through with every loving and tragic nuance. It’s as prominent a plot thread as the case itself but never once deters from the thrills or causes a lull in the story.
Detective Annalisa Vega is a strong female protagonist who is flawed but not tragically so – just enough to make her relatable. She is determined and fearless but contends with a failed marriage and still working with her ex-husband, who was her partner on this case. You can imagine the fun in that. It didn’t fall into any tropes, though. Not yet anyway, and it may never. I just really enjoyed the strength of the character and was drawn in by her and her past loves.
Reminds Me Of
Annalisa reminds me of a female Alex Cross in many respects but with a more relatable story. She is a detective who originally planned to go to law school though we haven’t learned why she didn’t go – yet. In contrast, Alex Cross is a psychologist who also is a detective. Family is essential to both though and plays a significant role in their stories.
What I Wish
The only thing that I wish is that the next installment of the series comes out soon. With a first book that came as strong as this one did, I can’t wait to see where the series goes and will gladly make time for each installment as it makes an appearance.
To Read or Not to Read
You will want to pick up this first in a series story because it is a jaw-dropping, page-turning thriller and a remarkable story about family and lost love. It’s the whole package!