The Last Sinner (A Bentz/Montoya Novel)
“Good characterizations—the killer’s point of view is woven throughout—as well as some delving into the protagonists’ inner thoughts, give this story that extra bite of reality, adding to the suspense . . .”
New Orleans Police Detective Rick Bentz is not having a good month.
Someone is killing prostitutes, strangling them with a rosary-shaped garotte. At every scene, a hundred dollar bill with Benjamin Franklin’s eyes blacked out is left by the body. It’s eerily like the M.O. of “Father John,” with whom Montoya and Bentz crossed swords with years ago, but it has to be a copycat, for Bentz killed Father John in the swamps and gators got the body.
Or so they thought.
“Bentz leaned down for a better view as he eyed the dead woman’s neck. The telltale marks were there, deep impressions, contusions in a specific pattern that, he knew, were of the beads in a rosary. “It’s him,” he said, looking up. “Father John.”
Closer to home, Bentz’s daughter and her husband are attacked on a New Orleans street. Kristi survives but her husband, Jay, is killed.
No clues, no reason for the attack.
“He made a note to put together a list of her enemies, starting with the felons portrayed in her books. A side note to check with their families as well . . . that just scratched the surface. To be truthful, it could be a dozen other killers whom Bentz had sent up the river and were now free.”
Bentz’s partner is having his own problems. Reuben receives a call from his brother, Cruz, who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. This call is no difference.
“I’m in trouble.”
Montoya’s back muscles tightened. “What?”
“I can’t explain now. But I want you to know I’m heading your way.”
An author of true crime novels, Kristi McKnight is definitely her father’s daughter, as stubborn and determined as he. Refusing to stay with Bentz and his new wife until the trauma of Jay’s death lessens, she intends to discover her husband’s killer, and the reason he died, because Jay’s death took away more than her husband. It deprived her unborn child of a parent. Kristi didn’t even have time to tell Jay he was going to be a father and that thought won’t let her rest. She’s certain one of the subjects of her books is after revenge. Now all she has to do is reread those books and find the clue telling her which one.
Ever the opportunist, Kristi’s agent is pushing for a sequel to The Rosary Killer, and the networks are already re-broadcasting the movie made from the book. Kristi is struggling not to give in to the demands.
“She hoped she could discover where the killer was hiding and expose him before he harmed anyone else.
Only then would she think about writing The Rosary Killer sequel.”
In the meantime, she has to live with the fact that the killer is watching, has been inside her house, leaving her messages—biblical quotes about the wages of sin—and is waiting to try again.
“She was facing the mind-chilling truth. The attack on her hadn’t been random. Someone was seeking his sick kind of revenge. And her valiant husband had lost his life defending her.”
Bentz’s investigation and Kristi’s jell at certain points and horrifying coincidences form. Is there a possibility the murderer Montoya and Bentz are investigating and Jay’s killer are the same? Could the person stalking Kristi be killing those young women with a sharpened rosary?
When those questions are answered, it’s with an explosive drawing together of all involved and a climax from which only a few will survive.
Since this novel is the latest in a series of bestsellers (number nine, in fact), and is a follow-up to a previous novel in which “Father John” appears, a new reader may wonder if that story should be read before tackling this one. Answer: Not necessary. There are enough references and explanation in The Last Sinner, to bring the reader up to date without backtracking.
Be warned, however; this is a lengthy novel (392 pages), so don’t expect to zip though it in one sitting. In fact, due to the “chill factor,” it probably is best to spread out the intriguingly suspenseful reading over several days.
Good characterizations—the killer’s point of view is woven throughout—as well as some delving into the protagonists’ inner thoughts, give this story that extra bite of reality, adding to the suspense as an old case comes full circle and a new one opens, making new readers as well as established ones look forward to the next entry.