To the Last Breath

To the Last Breath

4.3 12
by Carlton Stowers

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On January 22, 1994, two-year-old Renee Goode played happily with her sisters and cousin, enjoying an impromptu "slumber party" at the home of her father, Shane Goode. The next day Renee was dead. "To the Last Breath" reveals what Renee's grandmother had suspected all along: cold, calculating Shane Goode had murdered his own daughter to cash in on her death. of photos


On January 22, 1994, two-year-old Renee Goode played happily with her sisters and cousin, enjoying an impromptu "slumber party" at the home of her father, Shane Goode. The next day Renee was dead. "To the Last Breath" reveals what Renee's grandmother had suspected all along: cold, calculating Shane Goode had murdered his own daughter to cash in on her death. of photos. Martin's Press.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When two-year-old Renee Goode dies unexpectedly at her father's Alvin, Texas, home in 1994, her mother, Annette, immediately suspects murder. Shane Goode, Annette's ex-husband, is her first and only suspect. When the medical examiner labels the cause of Renee's death as unknown, Annette's mother, Sharon Couch, calls in an Orlando pathologist who performs a new autopsy on the exhumed corpse and rules the death a homicide. Stowers (whose Careless Whispers won the 1987 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime book) describes Shane's crushing debt, his $50,000 insurance policy on Renee and his prior insurance fraud, but does not portray him in substantial psychological depth. Since both crime and punishment are foregone conclusions, it's the soap-operatic aspects of the story that will hold readers' interestwith a powerful grip. At the time of the trial, Sharon Couch's son was serving a 10-year sentence for a killing arising from a childish prank. While assisting on her son's case, Sharon discovered a talent for detective work, and she eventually became a licensed PI. Sue Dietrich, the police detective who picked up the case when the file nearly went cold, had also lost a child about Renee's age. Meanwhile, Dietrich's philandering ex-husband, Brazonia County's star prosecutor, was assigned first chair in the case. Author Stowers knows good material when he sees it. He doesn't pump up his prose with bravado or obvious characterizations, but takes full advantage of the web of coincidence, allowing the players to speak for themselves and the complex plot to spin out. The result may lack suspense, but it has more than enough melodrama for a grade-A movie-of-the-week. Photos not seen by PW. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Of the many recent news stories about "sudden infant death syndrome," in too many cases what initially appears to be SIDS turns out to be cold-blooded murder committed by the closest care giver, generally a parent. Just after New Year's 1994, two-year-old Renee Goode was spending the night at her father's house in Alvin, Texas. The next morning she was found dead. The medical verdict was death from natural causes. Her mother was devastated and her maternal grandmother refused to accept the verdict. She hired a private investigator and convinced a police investigator, Sue Dietrich, to reopen the case, ultimately getting the body exhumed. An independent medical examiner determined that Renee had been murdered by suffocation. The police charged her father with first-degree murder and he was found guilty. Stowers (Careless Whispers, Pocket, 1990) illustrates the great difficulty in proving infant murder, in which scientific evidence is not always conclusive. Recommended for libraries with strong interest in true crime.Sandra K. Lindheimer, Middlesex Law Lib., Cambridge, Mass.
Kirkus Reviews
A tragedy is rendered toothless as Stowers examines a child's murder in a tiny town in Texas. Veteran crime journalist and Edgar Award winner Stowers (Open Secrets, 1994; Sins of the Son, 1995; etc.) here studies the mysterious demise of Renee Goode, two years old at the time of her death in Alvin, Tex. Her mother, Annette, and grandmother Sharon Crouch immediately suspect Annette's creepy ex-husband, Shane. Renee had been conceived during a brief reconciliation between the two, and Shane had insisted that Annette abort the fetus; failing that, he simply ignored Renee. After the divorce, Shane relented and after one year asked to see Renee. The little girl was terrified of her father and hated to go to his house, but Annette felt obligated to encourage the relationship between daughter and father. One terrible night, Annette received a shocking call: Renee, who had been sleeping at her father's house, was dead. The coroner ruled the death natural and did only a cursory autopsy. Annette and her mother, Sharon, a sometime private investigator, sprang into action. After both the police and the medical examiner's office rejected their claim of foul play, they researched on their own and discovered that Shane had taken out a life insurance policy on little Renee weeks before her death. Sue Dietrich, an Alvin police officer, took over the moribund case and took it to trial, where Shane was convicted of murder. While the case is certainly horrible, Stowers fails to elevate it to an outrage; the writing is stiff and the characters read like a shallow combination of blue-collar and Nancy Drew. The police work until the entrance of Dietrich was truly shoddy and ruined what should have beenan open-and-shut case, but Stowers's account simply doesn't crackle with the energy the three women poured into getting justice.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
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5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.64(d)

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To The Last Breath 4.3 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
So very sad. I had to put the book down a time or two for all the tears. Very hard to put down. I have a two year old girl and after finishing this book I went and layed in her bed while she was sleeping. Its just so sad that someone could do something so mean ' so sick'. My heart goes out to the family of that wonderful little girl.
Guest More than 1 year ago
when i first got ahold of this book i couldnt put it down i was on the edge of my seat constanly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was so taken by this book that I, still, often think about it. I could feel the family's heartache as if it were my own. A definate 'must read'. Carlton Stowers it one of the best 'true' story writers I have ever encountered.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Booklover6947 More than 1 year ago
Very Good story. Always wanted to see what happens next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jjmike More than 1 year ago
I cried my heart out when I read this book. I read it in 2 days.. couldnt put it down. I sympathized with Annette and Sharon like it was my own loss. How a father could kill his own child is uncomprehensible to me.
The sadness that I felt after reading the book was intense and I went in where my 2 year old was sleeping and just hugged him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
How incredibly sad that this beautiful little toddler had her life snuffed out--and by her own father!! I feel for her family--her mother especially, since I myself am the mother of a 2-year old girl. The book was very interesting to read and I couldn't put it down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, the fact that Annette and Sharon did not give up on bringing Renee murder to trial and to Sue the detective and Jerri the prosecutor, it was a heavy burden on them but finally they did it.
GOODE More than 1 year ago
This book is an absolute abomonation it is full of fictional bull SHlT if you want the real story read the god dam transcripts and even some of those are BS also because sharon annette jeri and sony are all backstabbing lying C.U>N.Ts