Following her well-reviewed 2018 thriller, A Map of the Dark, Karen Ellis returns with another solid showing in Last Night.
Titus “Crisp” Crespo, the valedictorian of his Stuyvesant High School class, was behind bars when his classmates walked across the stage at their graduation ceremony. While riding his bike home through the streets of Brooklynn, Crisp, mix raced kid who’s been raised by his white mother and Russian grandparents, became a victim of racial profiling when a New York cop stopped him, in no small part, because of the brown skin he inherited from his father, Mo.
The encounter, unjust from the beginning, took a turn for the worse when Crisp refused to ride home with the racist officer after being told that he was violating the law for riding his bike on the sidewalk, even though Crisp only did so at the officer’s direction moments before. That verbal refusal was trumped up to “resisting arrest,” landing Crisp in a cold pair of handcuffs and, ultimately, a jail cell. Once released, Crisp, rightfully frustrated, agrees to travel to Red Hook with Glynnie, one of his rich white friends, who plans to meet with her drug dealer in order to pick up some marijuana.
For Crisp, the trip is twofold, as Red Hook happens to be where his father, who has never met, was raised. Unfortunately, though, his one bad decision quickly snowballs when both kids are announced missing, kicking off another series of events that includes a murder investigation and a manhunt led by NYPD Detective Lex Cole to locate Crisp and Glynnie.
While FBI agent Elsa Myers, who stared in A Map of the Dark, plays a small role, the bulk of the story follows Crisp and Detective Cole, as two interwoven storylines eventually come together in a way that’ll satisfy most readers. While the writing is above-average, Ellis’ decision to not use more of Myers may have been a miscalculation, as none of the other characters feel compelling enough to drive the story on their own. Likewise, the plot relies far too often on either dumb luck or improbable coincidences, leaving the story feeling contrived and forced at times. Still, Ellis’ writing talent is evident, and her pacing and attention to detail help cover the book’s flaws, making Last Night a fine read for those craving a solid mystery.
Author: Karen Ellis
Series: The Searchers #2
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Release Date: February 26th, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 6.0/10
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.