cover image LAST BREATH


Rachel Lee, . . Warner Forever, $5.99 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-446-60991-3

Ex-cop Chloe Ryder, the inscrutable heroine in Lee's (With Malice; Breaking all the Rules) issues-oriented thriller, is an attorney with a heart of ice—except when it comes to the Catholic Church and her beloved Father Brendan. So when Brendan's protégé, a young gay man named Steve King, is found crucified at Brendan's church and Brendan starts receiving threatening calls, she rushes to his defense. Chloe's cold demeanor distances her from other characters (and readers), but she reluctantly joins forces with Matt Diel, a detective who once defended her when her abusive husband was murdered. Ignoring the passion simmering between them, Chloe and Matt dig up evidence indicating that King's death, and the death of another gay man from Brendan's past, may be part of a government conspiracy. The nature of the conspiracy is partially illuminated through scenes featuring characters known as "The Killer" or "The Man with the Cigar," but Chloe and Matt never unmask all the key players. In the end, Chloe speculates that God may have played a role in the strange events. While this explanation may be enough for some readers, others will end this brisk, too-short tale feeling more than a little cheated. (May)