“Her Last Day” is the first novel of a new series by T.R. Ragan. She is known for writing riveting thrillers whose antagonist always seems to be a gruesome serial killer. The three sub-plots throughout the story are brilliantly weaved together.
The plot has Sacramento private investigator Jessie Cole drawn to detective work after her sister Sophie disappeared 10 years ago. Reporter Ben Morrison. who wants to write a series of articles on the still-missing Sophie, approaches her. He feels somehow connected to Sophie after seeing her on a TV show about unsolved mysteries. He is hoping that finding her will help him regain his memory that was lost in a horrific car accident a decade ago. Besides finding out what happens to her sister, Jessie is raising her niece, facing charges for shooting a stalker, and is hired to find a mentally unstable girl who is somehow connected to the serial murderer, the Heartless Killer.
This novel explores many different types of illnesses, another signature of the author.
“In this book, there is a character, Zee, who has schizophrenia,” Ragan said. “I wanted to explore the different levels because after taking her medication she functions normally. I also delve into Retrograde Amnesia, which is what Ben was diagnosed with after the car accident. Retrograde Amnesia is when the person does not remember anything before the incident. With the other types of amnesia, people are able to remember most of their past but have a hard time with short-term memory. What Ben has is almost the direct opposite.”
The characters in the book are extremely well developed. People are able to sympathize with Ben, yet they also have some misgivings about him. Jessie is the poster child for the song in the Annie play, “It’s The Hard Knock Life.” She is impulsive, compassionate, caring, stubborn, and way too serious. Her mother left her when she was very young, her father is an alcoholic, her sister was always in and out of trouble, and then she disappeared leaving Jessie to bring up her niece.
On the other hand, the antagonist, The Heartless Killer, is very creepy. He has the traits of being controlling, manipulative, and very dominating. What he does to his victims is extremely horrific and he gets off on making sure they suffer. He could sing the song, “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me;” although he is about the only one who would. Ragan spends a lot of time writing these types of evildoers. “For some reason, the easiest scenes to write were the ones with the serial killer. For me, the creepiest scene in the book is when he threw apples at the injured girl who is practically crippled. Readers tell me they will never go to the setting of my books, Sacramento, because that is where all the serial killers live.”
The plot of this novel takes off from the very beginning and never lets up. There are so many twists and turns that readers could get whiplash. Ragan really knows to captivate her readers and keep their interest level high.