One Final Breath by Lynn H. Blackburn is the last in the Carrington County, North Carolina Sheriff’s Department Dive Team series. Fans of these books will enjoy this action-packed, suspenseful, romantic read, but will also feel a bit melancholy since these characters will be put out to sea as this nail-biting series ends.
The plot begins with a gunshot. A teenager has been discovered murdered as he and his friend are swimming near a dock across the cove. The team, who was having a picnic nearby, jumps into action, grabs a boat, and rescues the body as well as another teenager in the lake. Blackburn excels at putting the reader into the investigation as they feel the depths of the water.
The heroine, Anissa Bell, captain of the dive team investigators, has had a problem with Gabe Chavez since before he was on her team. He worked undercover and would only dive once or twice a year, not enough in her opinion to stay up to speed with the rest of the team. Now they must figure out how to put their issues with each other aside and work to solve this case. Yet, because of the comradery of the whole team they have become friends and start to realize that there is an attraction between them. Both of them realize that they are fascinated and frustrated with each other.
As the investigation takes hold, dive team captain Anissa Bell discovers a link to her past and suddenly her life is in extreme danger as she becomes the killer’s next target. She wonders if it has anything to do with a cold case that directly involved her. Anissa grew up with missionary parents and planned on joining them, after finishing college, on the Micronesian island of Yap. But she remained stateside, determined to solve the crime that haunts her, the murder of her best friend and the disappearance of a three-year-old child. While working both cases Anissa and Gabe must find the killer before more bodies pile up, while attempting to keep each other safe.
“I wrote Gabe as fun, charismatic, the life of the party, and does not think he wants to be serious in a relationship. Gabe is a tease. He was the class clown, but Anissa sees his deeper side where he is loyal and compassionate. Some of the humor and sarcasm is a defense mechanism on his part. His relationship with Leigh is like the little pestering brother. No one can stay mad at him for long. On the other hand, Anissa is serious, confident, and loyal. She comes across as more rigid that the others. Justice is important to her. She has a cold case, which is the hallmark of her existence, and is something she cannot let go. Anyone wronged or mistreated will have her help. I think she is a pragmatic leader who is kind, smart, and intense. She does have survivor’s guilt because of the cold case.
Unlike many authors, Blackburn allows the reader to enjoy all her characters. Throughout the series she inserts them into each other’s featured book. Readers enjoy their comradery whether they are working together, or just enjoying each other’s friendship that has become family-like. Previous characters are revisited from the series, but reading the earlier books isn’t necessary to enjoy this one.
“I have a lot of readers comment on how they like seeing the friendship grow between the six characters. It was not something I set up intentionally with this series, but it is something I will do with the next series. It was a lot of fun not having to say good-bye to all the characters. What I do differently is that for the featured characters I get in their head. Each character has their voice, but in their book, I flush them out to give them a unique voice, something that is sometimes a challenge.”
This story will take readers’ breath away as they hold it wondering how the suspenseful story will end. People who enjoy a good mystery sprinkled with romance should read this series.