Last Known Victim

( 43 )

Overview

Captain Patti O'Shay, a by-the-books cop, is assigned to the case. But with the evidence lost to time and the elements, the heinous incident goes unsolved. The perpetrator, known only as "The Handyman," remains at large.

Two years later Patti is still haunted by her own personal tragedy—her husband and fellow police captain was murdered in the post-storm chaos. But when a female victim missing her right hand is unearthed, Patti prepares to return to The Handyman investigation. ...

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Overview

Captain Patti O'Shay, a by-the-books cop, is assigned to the case. But with the evidence lost to time and the elements, the heinous incident goes unsolved. The perpetrator, known only as "The Handyman," remains at large.

Two years later Patti is still haunted by her own personal tragedy—her husband and fellow police captain was murdered in the post-storm chaos. But when a female victim missing her right hand is unearthed, Patti prepares to return to The Handyman investigation. She is unprepared, however, for what she finds at the crime scene—the victim's bones beside her husband's police badge.

Casting aside all the rules, Patti is fearless in her quest to find the truth…because if she isn't, she could become The Handyman's last known victim.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters failed to wash away evil in bestseller Spindler's grim vision of New Orleans. In the storm's aftermath, police discover a refrigerator stocked with severed right hands, evidence in a string of bizarre murders attributed to "The Handyman." A shallow grave containing a hand-less body and the badge of Sammy O'Shay, an NOPD captain shot and killed during the hurricane, convinces Capt. Patti O'Shay that the Handyman is responsible for her husband's death. Meanwhile, exotic dancer Yvette Borger claims to have received cryptic, obsessive love notes signed "The Artist," but the NOPD questions her motives and credibility. When O'Shay picks up on similarities between her Handyman and Borger's Artist, the by-the-book captain finds herself bending the rules to get to the heart of the stripper's story. While strong female leads compete for space, overwritten backstory and subplot sometimes drag on the investigation's urgency. Spindler (Cause for Alarm) hints throughout at the killer's psychology, but nothing prepares for the ludicrous diagnosis offered at the end. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780778325796
  • Publisher: Mira
  • Publication date: 4/1/2008
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 4.30 (w) x 6.56 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Erica Spindler
Erica Spindler’s bestselling novels include Copycat, Killer Takes All, See Jane Die, In Silence, Dead Run, Bone Cold, All Fall Down and Cause for Alarm. This New York Times bestselling author lives in the New Orleans area with her husband, an advertising executive, and their two sons.
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Read an Excerpt

New Orleans, Louisiana
Sunday, August 28, 2005
4:00 p.m.

The gods were watching over New Orleans. Or so it seemed. How else could this historic city built below sea level, this beautiful jewel set in a swamp, have survived?

Survival. Of the species. The fittest. The self. An instinctual response to fight for life. To fight back.

Would she?

Walk to the door. Open it.

There she was. Lying on the bed. Asleep. Bitch! Cheap, faithless whore!

She deserves it. She betrayed you.

Broke your heart. She stirred. Moaned. Her eyelids fluttered.

Quickly! Cross to the bed. Put your hands around her throat and squeeze.

Her eyes snapped open. Pools of blue terror. She bucked and clawed.

Tighter. Tighter. Her fault. Hers. Bitch! Betrayer!

Her creamy skin mottled, then purpled. Her eyes bulged, popping out like those of some freakish cartoon character.

No pity. No second thoughts. She brought this on herself. She deserves it.

Her hands dropped. Her body shuddered, then stilled.

Halfway there. Breathe deeply. Calm yourself. Finish what she forced you to do.

A scream shattered the silence. A loud crack, like a gunshot, shook the house.

Only the wind. Katrina's fury. Move, quickly! Good. Now check your equipment. Make certain you have everything you need.

Industrial-strength trash bags. Rubber gloves and boots. Foul-weather gear. Shiny new bone saw. Pretty, pretty saw.

Zip-closure plastic bag.

No one to hear. No one to come. All gone.

An empty city.

New Orleans, Louisiana
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
3:00 p.m.

A ghost town, Captain Patti O'Shay thought. Or a scene from some post-apocalyptic horror flick. No cars or buses. No people on the sidewalks or lounging on porches. Eerily quiet.

She crept along Tchoupitoulas Street, heading uptown, maneuvering past downed power lines, branches and trees, sometimes having to go off road. Struggling to keep her attention on the task of driving. And to keep exhaustion and despair at bay.

Katrina had hit and all the "Doomsday" predictions had come true: the levees had begun to break and the bowl that was the Big Easy had begun to fill with water.

Ninety percent of the metro area—including police headquarters—had flooded. Only the high ground had escaped: the French Quarter, parts of the Central Business District, pockets of the Garden District and Uptown. And this street, which ran along the ridge of the Mississippi River.

The city was without power. Without running water. Without access to supplies. Twenty-five percent of the NOPD's vehicles had flooded.

Citizens who hadn't evacuated were now trapped. On rooftops and in attics. On the interstates and bridges. Dying in the brutal heat, without food, water or medical care.

Now the looters, junkies and thugs had taken to the streets.

The NOPD had established Harrah's Casino, located high and dry at the foot of Canal Street, as their staging area. The Royal Sonesta, one of the French Quarter's swankiest hotels, now served as the temporary police headquarters.

She tightened her fingers on the steering wheel. All communications were down. The police department had been reduced to using a handful of walkie-talkies and one ad hoc, mutual-aid radio channel. A channel they were sharing with all other parish agencies and the state police.

Because of a "talk around" feature, communication between parties more than five miles apart was impossible, rendering unit commanders without a chain of command. To make matters worse, the various agencies kept cutting over one another, creating the cacophony she was listening to now—a stream of disjointed alerts, updates, conversations and requests for assistance.

It was something, at least. Fellow survivors, agencies struggling to restore normalcy. Audible proof that the world had not come to an end.

Though she feared hers had.

Her husband, Captain Sammy O'Shay, was missing.

She had neither seen nor heard from him since the Sunday before the storm. All officers had been required to remain on duty during the hurricane. She and Sammy had attended early mass at St. Louis Cathedral, then prepared to go out separately on patrol.

She remembered stepping outside of the church and being struck by an overwhelming sense of loss. Of dread. It gripped her so tightly, she caught her breath.

Sammy looked at her. "What is it, love?"

She shook her head. "Nothing."

But he had known better and curled his fingers around hers. Always her rock, her shelter in a storm.

"It's going to be fine, Patti. Business as usual by Wednesday."

They had hugged and parted. Then all hell had broken loose.

Today was Wednesday, Patti realized, thoughts returning to the present. And nothing was business as usual.

Where was he?

Patti suddenly felt chilled, despite the oppressively hot, humid air streaming through the cruiser's open windows. She shook her head, against the fear, the sense of dread.

Sammy was fine. He'd gone home to check on the house or look for her and been trapped by floodwaters. Or he had gotten trapped trying to help citizens escape. That's the kind of man Sammy was.

He was resourceful. If he had been injured, he knew to take refuge and await help.

So many were missing. So many were dead.

The walkie-talkie crackled and squawked. A number of buildings burned out of control in the metro area. There were reports of hundreds of displaced citizens converging on the convention center, of gunshots fired at the Superdome, of private militia teams arriving by choppers.

Hearsay and rumor. With no way of being substantiated because of the breakdown in communication.

Where was Sammy?

Suddenly the conversations stopped, overridden by an extended squeal. The sound affected her like a blow. Pressing and holding the radio's emergency button was one way to clear the channel for an emergency alert on this primitive form of communication. The protocol signaled users to stay off the channel until the alert was issued.

"Officer down. Repeat, officer down. Audubon Place."

Patti unclipped her walkie-talkie and brought it to her mouth. "Captain Patti O'Shay here. I'm on Tchou-pitoulas, approaching Jackson Avenue. Can I get to Audubon Place from here? Advise."

She was immediately inundated with advice on which streets were passable: one lane on both Jackson and Louisiana Avenues had been cleared. Once she hit St. Charles Avenue, she would have to drive the streetcar tracks on the neutral ground, which had been cleared by Bobcats.

Audubon Place was the most palatial street in New Orleans, perhaps the entire South. A gated community of twenty-eight mansions, it was home to wealthy old-line, New Orleans families, captains of industry and the president of Tulane University.

Located uptown on St. Charles Avenue, across from Audubon Park and bounded by the university campus, it'd been left mostly unscathed by the storm.

A juicy—and vulnerable—sitting duck for looters.

Patti made her way there, thoughts whirling. The report could turn out to be false—many had in the past couple of days. If it wasn't, who was the officer? How extensive were his injuries—and how the hell would she get him medical treatment?

Patti reached her destination. She saw another cruiser had made the scene before her. And that reports of private militia had not been exaggerated.

Four heavily armed men in camouflage stood at the neighborhood's graceful, gated archway. Around them, private Hummers and a bulldozer.

She climbed out. The other cruiser's driver's-side door opened. One of her guys. Detective Tony Sciame.

A thirty-year veteran of the force, Tony had now, truly, seen it all.

He started toward her. He looked like he'd aged ten years since she'd seen him last.

She didn't mention the fact, knowing she looked it, too.

"What's the status?" she asked.

"Not certain. I arrived a couple minutes before you. They wouldn't let me in."

"Excuse me?"

"Said they were in control of the area. Private security, hired by the residents to protect their property."

Money might not be able to buy love, but everything else was for sale at a price.

They approached the guards. As they did, Patti saw a third cruiser inside the gate, several houses down. Her heart sank.

"Who's in charge?" she asked the men.

"I am. Major Stephens. Blackwater USA."

"Captain Patti O'Shay, NOPD." She held out her credentials. "We got word of an officer down."

He inspected her ID, then waved them inside. "Follow me."

He led them through the gates and toward the third cruiser. She heard the hum of the generators powering the mansions. It was the way of the world, catastrophe affected the poor so much more profoundly than the rich.

And apparently, proved little more than an inconvenience to the superrich.

The victim lay several yards in front of the vehicle. Facedown in the muck.

"No badge," the man said. "Weapon's gone." As they closed in on the victim, the smell of death strengthened. Despite the heat, Patti's hands were cold as ice.

"It appears the back of his head was bashed in by a heavy object," the major continued. "Then he was shot. Twice. In the back."

They reached the corpse. Patti gazed down at the victim, light-headed, the blood pounding crazily in her head.

"Decomposition's too far along for it to have happened after the storm," Tony said.

She opened her mouth to respond but found she couldn't speak. She recognized this officer. From a lifetime together, sharing their trials, hopes and dreams. From nearly thirty years of marriage.

It couldn't be true. But it was.

Her husband was dead.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 43 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 43 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Another Great One!

    Excellent read! Erica really knows how to capture her readers from the beginning and keep you reading till the end.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 30, 2009

    Great Book

    It was an exciting book that keeps the reader glued to the pages up until the last second....

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 9, 2011

    Very close to home!

    Having lived through Post-Katrina New Orleans, this book did an excellent job of using the world to capitalize on some of our worst fears. As usual, Erica Spindler does a great job of telling a captivating story that keeps you engaged until the very end!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 5, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    If you're looking for a great mystery/suspense book this is it. It keeps you guess and on the edge of your seat. I hardly find a book that makes me want to read it from cover to cover when I open it but this one takes the cake. It is a must read if you haven't already read it

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 1, 2011

    Chilling

    A great suspense thriller in Post-Katrina New Orleans with drama, action and intrigue. While Louisiana tries to restore itself from Hurricane Katrina, someone uses the destruction from the hurricane as a perfect crime scene. When Captain Patty O'Shay and the NOPD are on the scene, they discover one of the huge fridges in a graveyard. When they open it inside, they're shocked to find a pair of woman's hands. This chills them to the bone. But what's mostly disturbing, after they get a call in City Park, is that they found the dead body with her husband's police badge at the scene. Someone's sending her a message, which could be more than personal than professional. And it's up to Patti to figure out the "Handyman's" cryptic message, before she's next on his list.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book was a real page turner & it kept me guessing. I love all of her books. I really enjoyed it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 6, 2011

    I couldn't put this book down!

    Last Known Victim was a book I couldn't put down. Set in post Katrina New Orleans. This book has lots of twists and turns that all readers will enjoy!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2008

    Not great

    From the synopsis of this book it seemed that it would be about Patti O¿Shay who is part of the Malone clan. However, the book was primarily about Yvette. I¿m just not interested in reading a book about a 22 year old, self-involved, bad tempered stripper/hooker. She wasn¿t particularly likeable and I didn¿t care if she got killed or not. While I appreciated the insight into post Katrina New Orleans, I hope the next book is really about a member of the Malone family or at least someone with rooting value.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2007

    Erica does it again!

    I hate myself for reading this book so fast but she leaves me no choice. I cant wait to find out what will happen next. Excellent story telling.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 18, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Last Known Victim - I have read every one of Erica's books - an

    Last Known Victim -

    I have read every one of Erica's books - and can't wait to read them as they come out. However, in the case of this book - this is the first one of Erica's that I just lost interest in when I wasn't even 1/2 way through it. So although alot of people gave reviews that were glowing - I felt this one wasn't up to Erica's writing talents. I will look forward to her next one coming out - and hopefully, she will get back to the style of writing that she started with a long time ago. A loyal fan!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2011

    Not up to par for Spindler's normal reads

    This is the worse book by ERica Spindler I have ever read. The characters were not as deep or detailed as she normally make them. I enjoy the Malone family info and keeping the large family atmosphere but this one was hard to read, hard to get into and not enjoyable. The details of Katrina were great and the main character was very complex which was good. I'll keep on reading Spindler and chalk this one up as not the best!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    enjoyable action-packed (rightfully so no romance) thriller

    The Doomsday predictions accompanying Katrina prove true as New Orleans Police Captain Patti O¿Shay surveys the city that has ninety percent of its buildings including police headquarters flooded. NOPD worked out of Harrah¿s Casino and police headquarters is located in the Royal Senesta, but rescue efforts are hampered and Patty worries about her missing in action spouse Sammy until she found him dead, shot in the back twice.---------------- Two years later, the city still recovers from the aftermath of the hurricane and the failure of the government at all levels. Meanwhile during the rescue efforts, a massive refrigerator had been found to contain six female right hands inside the media calls the culprit 'The Handyman.' Now a victim has been found buried in City Park her right hand was severed, but amongst her remains is Sammy¿s badge. Still grieving her loss and angry at government at all levels, Patti needs to know the truth although it means breaking all the rules that she has lived her life by she expects a confrontation in which she will either bring him down or become his LAST KNOW VICTIM as the Handyman looks forward to adding her right hand to his grisly collection.------------- This suspense thriller hooks the audience from the onset with its deep dark look at New Orleans after Katrina has turned the city into a big bowl of water. The cat and mouse game picks up two years later as Patty breaks procedures while knowing her adversary stalks her the better man (she hopes woman) left standing in a KILLER TAKES ALL showdown. Police procedural and suspense thriller fans will fully appreciate this enjoyable action-packed (rightfully so no romance) thriller.----------------- Harriet Klausner

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    Posted July 17, 2011

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    Posted September 29, 2011

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    Posted May 31, 2013

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    Posted June 1, 2011

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    Posted January 30, 2011

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    Posted October 9, 2010

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    Posted May 12, 2011

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