BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Friday, February 14, 2020

Review, Excerpt, Giveaway, & Friday Memes: The Last Sister by Kendra Elliot

Series: Columbia River #1
Read As A Stand Alone: Yes
Publisher: Montlake
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: January 14th, 2020
Buying Links: Amazon* | B&NBook Depository  |
* affiliate link; the blog receives a small commission from purchases made through this link.

Blurb from goodreads:

Three sisters’ secrets collide in a shocking novel of suspense by the Wall Street Journal and Amazon Charts bestselling author of the Mercy Kilpatrick series.

Twenty years ago Emily Mills’s father was murdered, and she found his body hanging in the backyard. Her younger sister, Madison, claims she was asleep in her room. Her older sister, Tara, claims she was out with friends. The tragedy drove their mother to suicide and Tara to leave town forever. The killer was caught. The case closed.

Ever since, Emily and Madison have tried to forget what happened that night—until an eerily similar murder brings it all back. It also brings FBI special agent Zander Wells to the Oregon logging town. As eager as he is to solve the brutal double slaying, he is just as intrigued with the mystery of Emily’s and her sisters’ past.

When more blood is shed, Zander suspects there’s a secret buried in this town no one wants unearthed. Is it something Emily and Madison don’t know? Or aren’t telling? And Tara? Maybe Emily can’t bear to find her. Because when Tara disappeared, she took a secret of her own with her.

My Thoughts:

I enjoy Elliot's books and this was no exception. I was pulled in from the first line. "The Last Sister" was gripping; I didn't want to put my Kindle down to work or to sleep. There are several mysteries besides the one that opens the story, including a murder from approximately 20 years ago. Although this is a spinoff from Elliot's Callahan & McLane series (which is itself a spinoff of her Bone Secrets series), you can read this as a stand alone. The book is primarily a suspense and mystery story but there is a subtle romance with an HFN. The romance is strictly secondary to the story; I have seen some readers mark it as romantic suspense but I disagree with that assessment. The mysteries are the main event. The setting of the story, Oregon, is essential to the story, as is its history of racism and  bigotry. That was sometimes difficult to read, and probably would be more so for a non-white reader.

"The Last Sister" was atmospheric, fast-paced, suspenseful, and full of family drama, secrets, and quirky people. The story is told from several different POVs, and some scenes or events are seen by the reader through more than one set of eyes. Emily and Zander, the main characters, shine as they work to unravel the mysteries in Emily's hometown. Though attracted to each other, they hold off on acting on their feelings until the case is over. That's rare in romantic suspense and I appreciated it. I also appreciated Elliot's knack for developing characters and making them so real and complex. It's one of her specialties. Add in the police procedures and forensics, and I was a happy reader girl. Don't pass up this first entry in Elliot's new mystery series.


And since it's Friday, I'm going to do my Friday memes, Book Beginnings On Fridays, hosted by Rose City Reader, and The Friday 56, hosted by Freda's Voice.

She wrapped her shaking fingers in the hem of her sweater to avoid damaging any fingerprints as she slid open the rear patio door, following the trail of blood.

"What about Hank West?" asked the remaining deputy as he strung up crime scene tape and listened to their conversation.
The sheriff's gace cleared. "That's right. How long's that been? Five years?" He looked from Zander to Ava. "Old Hank had dementia. Wandered off from his home in Warrenton. Never did find him."
All three of them turned their attention to the skull.

Did those catch your interest? Here's a longer excerpt. Enjoy!

“Who disturbed the scene?”

FBI special agent Zander Wells tamped down a rare rise of temper as he stood behind the small home in Bartonville and stared at the surrounding tall firs. The blatant disregard for standard procedure—standard procedure everywhere—made him want to punch someone.

An unusual urge for him.

“My deputy is a rookie. He’s young,” said the gaunt Clatsop County sheriff, brushing rain from his cheek. “I think shock took over. Haven’t had a violent death in this town in four years, and it didn’t help that he knew the victims.” Sheriff Greer shook his head, pity in his gaze. “He sincerely thought he was helping.”

Zander exchanged a glance with FBI special agent Ava McLane. She rolled her eyes.

Fewer than a thousand people called Bartonville home. The tiny coastal town sat on the banks of the massive Columbia River, not far from where it emptied into the Pacific Ocean. The city was remote, separated from Oregon’s heavily populated Willamette Valley by the hills of the Coast Range and thousands of acres of timber. Zander’s drive from Portland had taken a little less than two hours.

At their feet one of the victims was zipped up in a body bag. Zander and Ava had silently viewed the young man inside before she’d gestured for the tech to close the bag. Ava’s face had been blank, but a spark of rage had shown in her eyes. The man’s face would be permanently imprinted on Zander’s brain.

Along with the condition of the man’s dead wife inside the home.

There had been a rocky start to the investigation. The first responding deputy had cut the rope when he saw Sean Fitch hanging from the backyard tree. Three other deputies had tramped through the scene and moved both bodies during their response. An initial declaration of a murder-suicide by the sheriff had wasted precious hours before the medical examiner showed up and disagreed.

The ME wasn’t the only person who had questioned the sheriff’s declaration. The witness who had reported the murders had later called the Portland FBI office to report that the hanged black man had a hate symbol sliced into his forehead. An upside-down triangle inside a larger triangle.

Sean Fitch’s Caucasian wife had been stabbed over and over in their bedroom. It appeared Sean had been stabbed in the same room and then dragged out of the house and hanged.

“It doesn’t reflect well on your department that a civilian had to report this as a possible hate crime.” Zander stared at Greer as water dripped from the brim of the sheriff’s hat. It wasn’t raining; it was drizzling mist. The type of northern Oregon coastal weather that fooled you into believing it was safe to step outside, while in reality the dense mist clung to every inch of clothing and skin, drenching a person rapidly.

Greer grimaced and looked down at his boots. “We don’t get racist shit like this in our county— and blood had obscured the cuts. I’m still not convinced that’s what those marks represent.”

Zander understood. The triangles weren’t a commonly known Klan symbol. But the sheriff had been in law enforcement a long time. He should have known something wasn’t right.

“Even so, the noose and the victim’s skin color were clear,” said Ava. “If that’s not a red flag, I don’t know what is.”

Greer shook his head. “That kind of crime doesn’t happen here. Suicide is much more prevalent.”

The small sheriff’s office employed three detectives. Two were out of state, testifying in a trial, and the third was home with the flu. Sheriff Greer had started the initial investigation himself, without asking for help except from the state police crime lab, to process the scene.

Was the man rusty, Zander wondered, or just overconfident?

Either way, Zander and Ava now had a mess to unravel.

Zander stared at the mud under the tree. A dozen yellow numbered crime scene markers dotted the ground along with dozens of prints. A long depression where the body must have lain at one point. A length of rope. He looked up. Another piece of rope dangled from the branch. The bare deciduous tree stood out among the towering green firs; its pale, thick trunk and knotted branches alluded to a long, rough life.

The branch wasn’t that high, but it’d been high enough.

“Two killers. At least,” Ava muttered under her breath, and Zander silently agreed. Sean Fitch wasn’t small. Hanging the man had taken effort.

Persons motivated to make a point.

Check out the full tour here for more reviews and excerpts.

One lucky reader will win a paperback copy of THE LAST SISTER, as well as paperback copies of two of Kendra’s previous bestsellers, VANISHED and A MERCIFUL DEATH.

Sorry, USA only. Please read my Giveaway Policy and Privacy Policy. You must be at least 18 years old to enter. The publisher will provide the prizes.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I haven't heard of The Last Sister until now. The quotes are interesting.

    1. If you like thrillers or mysteries, you should try Elliot. She's good.

  2. This one sounds intense! I'd love for everyone to check out mine at

  3. Sounds like the type of book I'd enjoy. Thanks for featuring it and posting your thoughts.

  4. Sounds like a page turner!! Good luck to all who enter! Happy Valentine's weekend!

  5. Great excerpts! Thanks for sharing, and here's mine: “THE JANES”

  6. This sounds intriguing :) My choice for the meme was more in theme with Valentine's day, you can check it out here >>

    1. Yeah, I didn't want the 14th but it was the only day left. :(

  7. I can see why you liked The Last Sister. It sounds unputdownable! I will definitely be adding this to my wish list. Have a great weekend.

    1. Thanks, you too, and I hope you like the book.

  8. Thanks for offering the giveaway. It sounds like this is a good one. :)

    Lauren @ Always Me

  9. I'm so glad you included the last excerpt because I was wondering why the FBI would be called in. Thank you for including the giveaway. Fun!

    1. LOL, some of the characters in the story also question why the FBI was called. Good luck with the giveaway.

  10. I was hooked from the opening line! I hope you enjoy it.

  11. I never read anything by this author but I do have a couple of her books on my Kindle. This looks like a good one.

    1. I enjoy her books a lot. I hope you will too.

  12. Woah what a premise. Love that cover too.


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