Detective Annalisa Vega lost someone she loved to the killer. Now she's at a murder scene with the worst kind of déjà vu: Grace Harper lies bound and dead on the floor, surrounded by clues to the biggest murder case that Chicago homicide never solved. Annalisa has the chance to make it right and to heal her family, but first, she has to figure out what Grace knew―how to see a killer who may be standing right in front of you.
A serial killer suddenly reappearing after being dormant for decades is an overused trope of both crime novels and TV cop shows. So is having the detective on the case targeted by the killer. In other words, Schaffhausen’s new book starts off with two strikes against it. When the book’s climactic confrontation takes place in an abandoned mental hospital — something else we’ve seen too many times before — that seems like strike three. And yet, there is a lot to like about this novel. Harper, the latest victim, was a member of The Gravediggers, a group of amateur sleuths obsessed with cold cases. Her notes on her investigation of 'The Lovelorn Killer,' interspersed with the main narrative, are an artful touch ... Schaffhausen builds the suspense chapter by chapter, and the tale’s clever twists will keep readers guessing, often wrongly, till the end ... Her prose style, which has always been precise and clear, has taken a leap in this book, turning both grittier and, occasionally more lyrical. And, as usual, she excels at character development — even with minor characters ... the portrayal of Vega’s relationships with her parents, her siblings, and her fellow-detective former husband, as well as the sudden reappearance of the boyfriend she’d loved in high school, give the story a human touch often absent in novels marketed as thrillers.
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 ... 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.
Schaffhausen seamlessly weaves past and present together and easily manipulates strong romantic and family-loyalty subplots that might otherwise sink a poorly constructed story. In this strong series debut these multiple story lines provide layers to a heroine who sacrifices everything she loves in pursuit of justice, emerging with an optimistic eye toward what comes next.