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The Last Voice You Hear    by Mick Herron order for
Last Voice You Hear
by Mick Herron
Order:  USA  Can
Carroll & Graf, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

British author Mick Herron has penned a second literary novel in a private detective series, starring complex heroine Zoe Boehm. In The Last Voice You Hear, Zoe investigates three deaths. In the first, Wez, a 12-year-old purse snatcher, plunges from a London high-rise. Zoe has known Wez since he was nine years old, and is aware of his fear of heights. She also speculates that the murder of two middle-aged ladies are related to a man named Alan Talmadge, who preys on lonely, aging women.

The detective's impression is that both women were shoved to their deaths, one onto a subway track, and the other into a ditch of water. Boehm carries her own load of grief from shooting and killing a man, albeit in self-defense. In her search for one killer, a second enters the scene, with Zoe's pursuit creating an about-face so that a murderer then pursues her. She seeks refuge with friends in the country, putting others in jeopardy. The plot is intriguing , and Herron's writing style is rich in imagery, as in 'when she coughed, it racked through her like she was a wardrobe full of empty coat hangers'.

Herron is talented in establishing action and dialogue, and creating a psychological thriller. I confess to a difficult time with the wordy switching of points of view from beginning to end. And the author's interjections of off-the-track material can be confusing to the flow of the story. However, a sparkling, chill undercurrent engages the reader's interest right to the conclusion. The apprehension of one perpetrator is deferred, which leads me to hope for a sequel. The Last Voice You Hear is worth reading, if only for acquaintance with the strong, cool private detective, and with the author's poetic use of words.

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