The Last Clinic: A Darla Cavannah Mystery

The Last Clinic: A Darla Cavannah Mystery

by Gary Gusick

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345548887
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/18/2013
Series: Darla Cavannah , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 451,064
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Gary Gusick is a former advertising executive with more than thirty years experience as a copywriter and creative director. He is a winner of numerous national and international awards for creative excellence in advertising. The Last Clinic is his first novel.

Read an Excerpt


Morning Vigil

It was 6:00 a.m. and still dark when Reverend Jimmy Aldridge dragged the seven-foot pine cross from the back of his oversized SUV. He leaned the cross against the rear door and examined the spot where the two spiky poles intersected. The rawhide cord that held the stakes together was wrapped three times and tied nice and tight. He fumbled around in back of the SUV until he found the rolled-up poster with a photo of an infant with a quote asking “Aren’t you glad I was born?” He carefully unrolled the poster, pressed it flat to the cross, and whacked it with the staple gun four times. Top, bottom, right, and left.

He reached into the breast pocket of his suit coat and came out with an envelope bulging with money. He locked the envelope in the glove compartment behind an official state map of Mississippi. Feeling behind the front passenger’s seat, he removed a brown gunnysack robe from its hanger. He lifted his arms and slipped the robe over his suit, letting it fall until it reached his shoe tops.

Next he leaned his back against the SUV and pressed onto the cross, lifted his shoulders, and wrapped his arms around the beam. Bending at the waist, he hoisted the cross upward so that his back supported its weight. Then, step by step, he plodded up the hill a quarter mile until he reached the entrance to the Jackson Women’s Health Clinic.

He positioned himself next to the gate, placing the bottom of the cross on the sidewalk and holding the staff upright with one hand. With his free hand he took a small flashlight from his pants pocket, flipped it on, and angled the light upward toward the poster, illuminating the photo of the infant.

A set of headlights popped up over the hill. A truck, a twelve-wheeler, rumbled his way. He lifted the cross a few inches off the ground and shook it at the driver.

“Christ died so babies may live!”

His robe flapped in the breeze as the truck roared by, the driver failing to react.

A second vehicle, a Jackson school bus, followed. “The health clinic is a death clinic!” he yelled. This driver, a middle-aged hippie type, gave him the finger.

“Have a blessed day, brother,” he called out to the disappearing taillights. Then added, “You baby-killing son of a whore.”

The sun peeked over the horizon. A black SUV wheeled around the corner and came to a halt across the street, directly in Reverend Jimmy’s view.

“The unborn have a right to live,” he shouted to the occupant. “God’s work must be our own.”

The window on the driver’s side rolled down.

Reverend Jimmy’s face broadened into a smile. “What are you doing here at this hour?”

The driver said nothing.

Still smiling, the preacher propped the cross against the fence, clicked off the flashlight, and started toward the SUV. Two steps later, he saw the barrel of the shotgun pointing out the window at his groin.

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The Last Clinic: A Darla Cavannah Mystery 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
NCReaderGirl More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love it when a book kicks off the action right the moment you begin to read, this one is just the same!  Pulls the reader in right from the off and the pace keeps moving from start-to-finish.  Darla, a woman recluse after becoming a widow at a young age, fighting the unknown past of her deceased husband’s indiscretions, finds herself thrust into a murder investigation.  Her target: an unknown assassin who murdered a town hero, a beloved Pastor of one of Jackson’s largest and wealthiest Churches.  Not only does she find herself chasing after her unwilling media-whore partner’s unwillingness to look beyond his own nose and possibly find the real culprit – moving out of his own small-town hero wanna-be status as the Governor’s nephew – she finds herself discovering more about Jimmy Aldridge and his “secret” hobbies and crusades. All the while the reader is thrust into the world of a hired-assassin going after Women’s health clinic doctors – a hired-hand who is being paid by a mysterious benefactor. Is the murderer the town OB/Gyn who works at the Women’s Health Clinic Jimmy Aldridge picketed every-day? Is there someone outside of Jackson looking for blood? Is there someone inside of Jackson who wanted Pastor Aldridge dead?  Who is paying the hired-hand to murder all of those Dr’s across the country? All of these questions and more get answered inside of this gripping novel!  The entire novel is told from the third person, giving insight into each character, allowing the reader to flesh out each individual as a person and use their character to help determine who the murderer actually is vs. who Tommy (the Elvis Impersonator) and the general public of Jackson, MI wants it to be.  Thoroughly gripping and mysterious, this novel brings forward many questions about the Right to Life Campaign running in the South (as someone who lives in SE NC I see it almost daily) and the very definite culture clashes between “Yankees” and Southerners (also someone who moved from the DC Suburbs to SE NC, I found this to be true until very recently), and the questions of Church and State separation.   This book is one I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys reading a good murder mystery, definitely looking forward to seeing more of Darla Cavannah and the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office! Here’s hoping there’s more novels to come!
DiiMI More than 1 year ago
When the Reverend Jimmy Aldridge, pillar of his community is murdered while protesting outside an abortion clinic, detective Darla Cavanaugh is called on head the investigation. No small feat, considering she is not only an “outsider,” but a female Yankee! (Gasp!) Who should she get as a partner, but the worst Elvis impersonator around, which means her work is cut out for her, for sure! High on the suspect list is the doctor who runs the clinic, the charismatic Stephen Nicoletti, who just happens not to have any alibis at the ready. With her work cut out for her, Darla must avoid tripping over her bumbling partner while trying not to get tangled up in the sheets of Dr. Nicoletti’s bed. Add the less than savory dirt that is being dug up on the precious reverend, the strip club connection and Darla has a tangled web to unravel to find the killer. Add that good Ole Boy clichéd mentality of the Deep South and sit back and enjoy the ride! The Last Clinic by Gary Gusick takes murder and ties it in knots and sends us on a twisted journey to solving the crime. Well-written with a cast of characters you will find amazingly perfect in their roles, by the time you finish, you may be feeling the need for a Mint Julep or two! I received an ARC edition from Alibi in exchange for my honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fascinating whodunit story of the deep South and its religious fanaticism. The characters are very real, and the story takes the reader down many paths. The suspense builds throughout the narrative, with the many side trips resulting in satisfying but teasing detours. I found the book hard to put down as the continuing interactions between the "Yankee" female inspector and the hard-boiled Southerners of Jackson MS produce tense and comical moments in the search for the killer. When the killer is revealed, it is almost anti-climactic after all the action that has taken place. I highly recommend this book for those who like a good, well-written mystery. Jayfwms cannot leave a pen name or use paragraphing in this recommendation
BrandieC More than 1 year ago
This is a strong first effort by Gary Gusick. Being from the Deep South myself, I was impressed by the way in which Gusick captured how certain classes of Southerners talk and act. Too many authors think Southern is a synonym for “backwards redneck”; Gusick shows that we have just as much politicking and backstabbing down here as you find in New York City or Washington, D.C. “'You can call anyone in the state anything you like, as long as you bless their heart afterward.'” – perfect observation! As for the plot, I enjoyed the two converging storylines told from different points of view. However, I had figured out who killed Aldridge the moment that character was introduced, so the book was not as suspenseful as I would have liked (and, I suspect, Gusick intended). The red herrings lacked the subtlety needed to draw the reader into considering multiple possible villains. Darla Cavannah was an appealing character, and I would be interested in reading her further adventures. However, she did not feel fully fleshed out to me; I thought the constant references to her dead husband were irritating (although certainly realistic for a football-crazy locale), and I found her quickly-formed relationship with Stephen to be unrealistic for a veteran police officer who had been widowed less than a year. Stephen himself felt similarly two-dimensional, not much more than Darla’s obligatory love interest. Overall, The Last Clinic is a solid debut and first entry in the Darla Cavannah Mystery series. I received a free copy of The Last Clinic through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Teritree001971at More than 1 year ago
THE LAST CLINIC is a murder mystery story which crosses fictional boundaries of the FBI and a small town sheriffs office. Darla Cavannah is a detective, born and bred in Philadelphia, who moved with her husband to Hinds County, Miss. After her husband dies, she continues to work on the force, but even though she's been living there with her husband, she continues to deal with being an outsider at times. In this story, the victim is a minister who gets murdered while doing his daily protest at an abortion clinic. Around this scene, the author introduces us to the life of Darla and a glimpse of what living in a small town could be like as well as the hidden deeds which go unmentioned in society until it is too late. The characters are likable and the book is well written. However, I found I was able to figure out the murderer from the first introduction in the story.
pandabearCM More than 1 year ago
This seems to be a first book of a very promising series. It is quite suspenseful. I liked the detective and the main characters. The cop is from the north and has to learn to understand people of Mississippi. The mystery itself has twists and turns with the backdrop of the culture of Mississippi which is a closed society. The detective’s partner is an Elvis Pressley impersonator which adds some humor to the story. My one minor criticism of the book is that I felt I never totally understood the Reverend who gets killed. However, the book was one of the more enjoyable mysteries that I have recently read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well writin but bad subject
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Standing up for an end to abortion.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I simply could not keep an interest in this story. It started out slowly and some of the characters were quite boring. I am into more suspenseful writings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept moving fast enough to keep you attention. Happy endings are nice too.
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RobertDowns More than 1 year ago
“People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.” - Dave Barry While reading this debut novel, I couldn’t seem to get that particular thought out of my head, as it cycled on rinse and repeat. And I couldn’t help this one either: Men seem to have no problem telling women what to do with their bodies. Now I’m not saying what is right or wrong about the above quote, or whether abortion is a sin or not, and whether or not women should have the right to choose. But I do think when you only see one side of the issue, and you can’t even stare at the opposing party on the other side of the fence without getting into a spitting or shouting match, then you might want to take a good, hard look at yourself and ask yourself what you really stand for, and why you’re even standing there in the first place. Empathy isn’t just some word that you look up in the dictionary, and you completely discard it in your daily life. We’ve had plenty of leaders who’ve lacked empathy in our modern world: Hitler and Stalin certainly come to mind. So yeah I was pretty liquored up and pissed off while reading THE LAST CLINIC, and I was even more liquored up and pissed off when I finished it, and I’m still liquored up and pissed off as I write this review. Because really the bottom line is it takes two people to start an argument, and it takes two people to continue one. Religion ends up getting a bad reputation when folks use it as an excuse to further their own extremism causes. Religion can actually do some good when used properly, creating a set of values and structure, and giving a man or woman hope, and a belief in something greater and more powerful than themselves. But when it isn’t used properly, you might as well be holding a gun in your hand instead of a Bible, because it’ll lead you to some bad decisions, and you’ll be screaming the name of Allah, or God, or Jesus Christ, or Buddha, or whomever from the other side of a metal cell or padded walls. Aside from the religious aspects, and there were plenty for me to stand up and take notice, Detective Darla Cavannah is a woman I have no problem getting behind. She’s smart and beautiful with a body built for trouble, and the story added elements of mystery, instead of moving in a linear fashion straight to the finish line. But it’s hard for me to get past the fact that there were multiple individuals I’d like to whack upside the head with a Bible or a wooden cross. I received this book for free through NetGalley. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
reececo331 More than 1 year ago
with surprises coming out of every corner this small town southern mystery is a short and sweet tale of finding crime that has gone un- noticed. The links and connections with in the town make this an intriguing mystery.. great descriptions of dynamic characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looking forward to more from this author.
Autumn2 More than 1 year ago
I received this book via NetGalley to give an honest review.  This was a pretty cool murder mystery. You have detective Darla who has gone though something traumatic  which was the lost of her famous husband. With that in mind she has not been working big cases.  That is until she is called into a big case that deals the a Reverend and abortion clinics.  Now being as I do not believe abortion is right I do believe it is a person's choice.  With abortion playing a big part within this story I was glad that there wasn't details being given within the book as I probably would have been crying.  The relationship between Darla and Dr. Nicoletti seemed a bit rushed within the story. Instead of getting to know one another going on dates it was like bam let's question him, arrest him and then I will sleep with him. Unless he was a one night stand and then I could understand that.  I enjoyed how the Reverend was not all goody two shoes. He had a dark side within him. Now Darla's partner Tommy what is there to say about him. I kind of wish Darla would have kicked him in the balls a few times. With this Elvis wannabe self, he had more ego issues than anything and was determine to catch a collar even if it mean the wrong person. Now this book may not be for everyone, being as it does deal with abortion clinics, a doctor is wrote out more of a hero, a sketchy dealing with black virgins and old white men. But do not let that turn you away from the story as it is really good.  Now you may think you know who the killer is but you may be wrong on your assumption. Now I had no idea until the very end and I was very surprised, but I could see why this person did what he did.