“When All The Girls Have Gone” by Jayne Ann Krentz leaves readers spell bound. Although billed as a suspense romance novel, it can easily fit into the thriller category. As with the “Columbo” television series, there is very little attempt to hide the identity of the antagonist, but the motive and possible conspiracies are masked throughout much of the novel. Just when the reader thinks they have found the answers, the carpet is pulled from under them with a new set of questions.
This is the first in a trilogy.
“I am writing the other brother’s story as we speak,” Krentz said. “The third novel will resolve the evil cult mystery left over from this book. Each is a stand-alone with a mystery on to itself. There will be cameos from the characters of this first book. I really love that set-up of a private investigator series. Any mystery with a P.I. can handle more personal stories involving confidentiality, keeping secrets, and probing the personal corners of other people’s lives. This series is now a trilogy, but if it works it can be the core for a P.I. series.”
This story has two plotlines that come together at the end. The plot begins with the possible murder of a woman and the disappearance of another. It appears that the one with all the answers is Jocelyn Pruett, but she has disappeared. A private detective, Max Cutler, is hired to find out why one woman was murdered and in the course of his investigation meets up with Charlotte Sawyer, the stepsister to Jocelyn. Together they search for answers and link the death and disappearance to an on-line based investment club and Jocelyn’s past of being a rape victim. They find that power, privilege, an escalating serial rapist and a friend-enemy are all fighting to silence Charlotte and Max.
An over-riding arc that will continue in this trilogy has three stepbrothers obsessed in trying to find out the cult leader who imprisoned them, and set a fire that ultimately killed others. Because they had no relatives, the police chief who rescued them adopted the three and raised them as his sons. The question of what became of this cult leader has haunted the brothers. Max was affected so deeply he had to leave his criminal profiler job, got divorced and relocated to Seattle.
The theme of the novel involves deceptions, unanswered questions and finding out the truth. Revenge, vigilante justice and becoming avengers are the central part of the story. Something most readers can relate to is how “life passes in the blink of an eye.”
Krentz feels the “avengers crossed the line to find justice and then became vigilantes, which is not healthy. This is why I could not make the heroine one of them. Her own core values would not allow that kind of justice that involves less than legal means. I wanted to show women are perfectly capable of thinking about revenge and will have their own way of doing it. I always believe that whoever plans revenge has a dark side. Vengeance is a dangerous thing and usually comes back to haunt you. Vigilantism is like the western story of meeting a guy in front of the saloon and shooting it out.”
The two sisters appear to be as different as night and day. Jocelyn is flashy, an “A-list girl”, bold and self-confident. Charlotte is seen as risk-averse, cautious, vulnerable, level headed, honest and not spontaneous. She is in-sync in personality with Max who is also vulnerable, doubtful, a plodder and comfortable enough with each other to share their past.
As with all her books, the characters grow throughout the story.
“I had Jocelyn learn something about herself, which is: She does need Charlotte as a sister of the heart,” Krentz said. “On the other hand, Charlotte learned that her inner strength was greater than she gave herself credit for. Most of us do not understand our own strength until something stresses us and then we have to deal with it. Regarding Max and Charlotte, Something I have in my books is how the relationship develops when the hero sees the strengths and the heroic qualities in the heroine and she sees those same qualities in him. Their story compliments each other. They share the common core values: courage, honor, determination, and the healing power of love.”
This novel is a great read for fans of mysteries who will not be able to put the book down. The many twists and turns create an exciting plot with action building throughout the story.