Annalisa Vega probably shouldn’t be investigating the latest murder linked to a serial killer, dubbed by the press as the Lovelorn Killer, who last struck in her Chicago suburb 20 years ago. Her father was the original investigator in the case and her boyfriend during her teenage years, Colin, was the son of the seventh murder victim.
But Annalisa’s a detective herself now, and, perhaps seeing this as a way to help her dad exorcise his demons from never having solved the case, she dives headlong into Joanna Schaffhausen’s multilayered mystery, Gone for Good.
Annalisa quickly learns the latest victim, local grocery store manager Grace Harper, was investigating the original spate of killings with an amateur sleuth club called the Grave Diggers. The similarities between her death and those of the earlier victims—all were found bound and gagged, dead on the floor of their homes—convinces Vega that Grace was closer to solving the case than even she might have thought, which prompted the killer to come out of hiding.
Schaffhausen, who has a doctorate in psychology and previously worked in broadcast journalism, uses her expertise to delve into the minds of her characters, extracting their hopes, desires and fears in equal measure. The author brilliantly explores Annalisa’s emotional connections with the characters around her. She’s not only been reunited with Colin for the first time in years, but her partner on the case is her ex-husband, Nick, who is also a detective. Both situations prompt a flood of emotions that threaten to cloud Annalisa’s judgment.
Chapters told from Grace’s perspective are cunningly interspersed with Annalisa’s traditional gumshoe detective work, yielding additional insights along the way. While Schaffhausen throws in a few red herrings, all the clues are there for readers if they pay keen attention. And even if readers should figure things out ahead of Annalisa, the action-packed ending and final twist are more than worth seeing Gone for Good to its finish.