LAST BREATH - George D Shuman
LAST BREATH is the second Sherry Moore novel, with 18 SECONDS, the first being released in 2006. The central premise of LAST BREATH is pretty simple - a serial killer is torturing women and dumping their bodies, and the police have no leads to go on. The killings seem to stop though when a van with two young teenage boys, and a kidnapped victim crashes. Police assume that these boys are the killers, although the victims were taken in a very careful, almost public way, with nobody witnessing anything untoward. How these boys could have done that ... well nobody wants to ask. When further bodies are discovered, the police realise that their killer is still out there, and Sherry Moore is called into consult.
Sherry Moore has a unique ability - blind as the result of a childhood accident - Sherry is able to touch a body and see the last 18 seconds or so of what a victim has seen before they die. So herein lies the central attraction (or turnoff) for these books. Sherry has a paranormal psychic ability, and this ability is used within the normal part of a police investigation. In LAST BREATH, this ability of Sherry's becomes more than just something that helps out the police, and becomes an ability that the killer wants to use.
Aside from whether or not a reader is able to accept the idea that paranormal ability of this type exists and would be used by police - the other point of LAST BREATH is that the killer contacts Sherry and wants Sherry to provide him with something. This leads Sherry to be put in direct danger as a part of the ongoing investigation. Sherry's working with one team of investigator's - local police if you like - and there is a second, sex crimes unit working on the same job. Things get a little crowded as the book progresses with these parallel investigations and there are some very odd things going on. Sherry's seen to be at great risk - being in direct contact with a desperate and prolific serial killer. So in one chapter police discuss how to keep her safe, and pretty well in the next action of the book, when she's getting telephone calls directly from the killer, nobody is available to help her or protect her. A highly experience sex crimes investigator finally gets somewhere with, not necessarily getting a name for the killer, but certainly a location for where he is finding his victims, and she heads off - on her own - into the wilds of Pennsylvania to find the killer herself. Meantime the police have worked out who their prime suspect is, and the investigator, needless to say, finds herself caught by the serial killer. Sherry finds herself caught by the serial killer.
In LAST BREATH, the reader meets the killer up front - you always know who and why he's doing what he's doing. The question is will the police ever find out and will Sherry Moore help them, the killer, or herself. To be perfectly honest, LAST BREATH didn't work for me. Leaving aside whether or not the mixing of the normal and the paranormal would possibly work for me as a central idea, the mixed up plot, the pointless voluntary jeopardy, and a few too many inconsistencies weren't strongly enough compensated with menace or speed of plot. This killer was undoubtedly a nasty little piece of work - but the why's didn't really overcome the how's.
A ruthless serial killer with an unthinkable MO has left a trail of tortured, murdered women in western Maryland and seems to have gone to ground in the backwoods of Pennsylvania. With no leads or any sign of a suspect, investigators must call on the now-famous blind psychic Sherry Moore, a woman whose talent inspires scepticism, but whose results are unparalleled. When she is put in contact with the hand of any dead body, she relives the memory of the departed's final experience.