Joanna Schaffhausen’s Gone For Good

images (1)Joanna Schaffhausen’s Gone For Good is a mystery thriller that aims to start a new series centering on a police detective named Annalisa Vega. She is a police detective, whose father was in the business, both based out of Chicago. Decades before, a killer was making waves in the neighborhood, and Annalisa has the misfortune of discovering that he just may be at it again.

Vega has a history in law, an ex husband working as her partner, a retired cop dad, and a host of other personal issues. These are naturally part of the mess she finds ahead of her, and the reader truly finds them interesting on top of the questions relating to the strange case.

It is also the story of one Grace Harper. Grace was part of an organization called the Gravediggers who looked into cold cases as a civilian. She also became the first modern victim of the “Lovelorn” killer, a serial killer known for sending love noted adressed to his victims to the press. Many chapters take the form of electronic journal entries and online chats, switching away from the relative present tense that Annalisa’s point of view gives. 

The case itself is interesting, a peculiar sort of narcissistic serial killer who seems to love interacting with his victims. The twenty-odd years he goes dormant are a major mystery. There is no shortage of potential suspects, ranging from suspicious behavior by police officers to misbehaving boyfriends and close acquaintances. Or it is possible that the new murder is a copycat, and the differences between killings are explained in enough detail no reader should feel cheated.

Much of this story is about missed opportunities and mistakes in life and in romance. In both the past and present, romantic entanglements have played roles, including the ex husband of Annalisa working as her current partner, her early boyfriend Colin, and Grace’s own admitted flirtatious. The police are portrayed largely as heroes within this book, but the problem of police corruption is addressed if briefly, and the fact the case deals with a serial killer helps avoid many of the areas some might find police work and behavior more questionable.

The fact this is intended to be a series yet much of the story is told from the viewpoint of Grace Harper, a dead woman, which raises questions about future volumes. There is a certain thread dangling, and her fellow Gravediggers are still around to be consulted, but it would change the storytelling style quite noticeably. Regardless, Annalisa is an interesting detective, and the other characters moving through her life are entertaining and varied in personality.

Gone for Good is a wonderful little book detailing the ins and outs of a cold case gone hot. The twists and turns that happened throughout the plot are believable enough and keep the reader invested, while the characters remain both interesting and largely relatable. Easily recommended to fans of Joanna Schaffhausen’s work, or those merely looking for a good mystery.

(Minotaur, 2021)

Warner Holme

Warner Holme is a longtime booklover who tends to read anything he can. He has held,many positions, ranging,from the educational to medical all the way to the mildly usurous. Largely forgotten by those around him, Warner has lived in a number of locations, yet keeps being pulled back to the south. He currently lives there with his pets, and politely asks not to be disturbed.

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