Thursday, March 20, 2008

Last Breath by George D. Shuman: “A Sherry Moore Novel”

The other day I walked past a shelf of books (surprise) and saw a book I read last year. I really liked it but sadly it was the first book the author had written. I say sadly, not for the author or the quality of the book, but I always consider it a bonus when you find a good book and then find that the author is prolific. In those cases you can say…”if you like this one, there is plenty more where that came from!!!!” Not so….18 Seconds was the first “Sherry Moore Novel.” Seeing this book again, reminded me to see if there was a second and THERE WAS! : Last Breath is the second and I feel confident, not the last, “Sherry Moore Novel.”

But, before I can review this book for you, I need to do a retrospective of 18 Seconds.

In 18 Seconds, we meet our heroine Sherry Moore. Sherry is blind, but wasn’t born that way. She had her sight up until the age of 5. At that point she suffered a medical trauma which damaged a portion of her brain, but not the functionality of her eyes. Abandoned by her mother, Sherry grew up in foster care and gradually made it to adulthood, damaged. A freak accident, put her in the path of a dying man, and as the life left his body, Sherry obtained his vision. She saw the last 18 seconds of the man’s life, through her own eyes. Years pass and Sherry is a celebrity, sought out by people who want to know how their child died; by the police, although circumspectly, to help solve murders. And of course this background leads us to the case the book is centered on. I have since forgotten the rest of the book, but I remember it as being a good and satisfying tale. It was satisfying enough that I tried to remember to keep up with the author.

On to Last Breath…

The book opens with a disjointed chapter from the ramblings of a confused and most likely crazy mind. When I first read it I had in my mind an older woman suffering from Alzheimer’s, but I was off.

The next chapter is written from the point of view of a young boy, anxious to get home. It is his birthday and his mom has promised not to forget. She forgets a lot of things and the boy hopes and prays that she hasn’t forgotten his surprise party at the neighbors house…the bike, the one thing he wants, and most of all him. He wants to know that his mother loves him enough not to forget about him and his special day. Your heart goes out to this boy because you now realize that this is the woman we just met. And we know…she has forgotten.

The boy comes home to discover his mother in a dangerous and precarious position. She is in the middle of acting out her weakness, auto-erotic asphyxiation. The boy, upset that this is what she is doing instead of remembering him and his special day, decides to put his mad mother out of her misery, and kicks the hamper out from under her. Meet the serial killer for our story.

Fast forward a decade or so and Sherry is not in a good place. Prior events from 18 Seconds have left her world shaken and sad and she has started self medicating. When the police call on her for help, she agrees, and after receiving the confusing and disturbing visions from three bodies, is surprised when she receives a gag order from the courts. It seems that the families of the victims consider the information she received from the bodies as privileged.

The FBI is soon on the case and between Sherry’s mental health, legal and bureaucratic issues, this tale takes you on a twisted ride.

The “blurbs” on the back cover say the usual glowing things, but one of them is true enough to repeat; from Robert Crais: "Moves like a bat out of hell..."

This story does move at a break neck pace and was over far sooner than I would have liked.

BUT WAIT!!!!! THERE'S MORE!!!!! In doing my research for this blog, I found that there is another "Sherry Moore Novel" coming this fall.... please stay tuned for Lost Girls!

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