Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Last Place You look by Kristen Lepionka and not only do I get to share my review, but I have a great Q&A with the lovely lady herself. More of that anon. Here’s the bookish info first!
About the book:
Sarah Cook, a beautiful blonde teenager disappeared fifteen years ago, the same night her parents were brutally murdered in their suburban Ohio home. Her boyfriend Brad Stockton – black and from the wrong side of the tracks – was convicted of the murders and sits on death row, though he always maintained his innocence. With his execution only weeks away, his devoted sister, insisting she has spotted Sarah at a local gas station, hires PI Roxane Weary to look again at the case.
Reeling from the recent death of her cop father, Roxane finds herself drawn to the story of Sarah’s vanishing act, especially when she thinks she’s linked Sarah’s disappearance to one of her father’s unsolved murder cases involving another teen girl. Despite her self-destructive tendencies, Roxane starts to hope that maybe she can save Brad’s life and her own.
THE LAST PLACE YOU LOOK by Kristen Lepionka is published by Faber & Faber in July (£7.99).
Click HERE to order your copy!
About the author:
Kristen Lepionka grew up mostly in a public library and could often be found in the adult mystery section well before she was out of middle school. Her writing has been selected for Shotgun Honey, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Grift, and Black Elephant. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her partner and two cats.
Regular readers of my blog know that I mainly read crime thrillers. Lately everything has become very samey, so I’ve been on the lookout for a book that would blow me away. The Last Place You Look is definitely one of the best crime books I’ve had the pleasure of reading in the past few months!!!
The Last Place You Look focuses on Roxane Weary, a PI, struggling to keep her head above water in the months after her father’s death. When she gets a call to meet Danielle, whose brother is scheduled to be executed after supposedly carrying out a brutal double murder 15 years ago, Roxane reluctantly agrees. She then finds herself submerged in the history of the case of Brad Stockton, and the disappearance of his girlfriend, Sarah Cook, who never returned home on the night of her parents murder.
Roxane is definitely a troubled character. Self-medicating with alcohol, she is setting herself on a path to self-destruction. This case could be her salvation. What she uncovers during the course of her investigation could change the lives of many more than just her. But can she focus long enough to see the investigation through to the end?!
The Last Place You Look is an outstanding crime fiction DEBUT (!!!!!). Roxane is such a well-drawn character. I loved reading about her, and I was rooting for her from the very beginning. Yes, she is flawed, but she is intrinsically good. She is human, she is relatable, she basically kicks ass!
I loved this book. Honestly. I couldn’t put it down. My heart was racing, my mind overflowing as I got drawn further into the superb narrative. I don’t want to say any more. Amazing debut! Stunning!
Highly, highly recommended!
Q&A with Kristen:
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Well, I’m a mystery writer and I’m so excited that my debut novel THE LAST PLACE YOU LOOK is out this summer. I live with my girlfriend and our 2 cats, who are scientifically proven to be the cutest cats ever.
How did you get into writing? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?
Yes, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. As soon as I learned how to put words down on the page, I started stringing words into stories—but I didn’t get serious about writing until about eight years ago, when I sat down and wrote my first full-length novel.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I wish I knew exactly where it came from—it would be easier to replicate that way. But it kind of comes from all over the place. Overheard conversations, stories in the news, songs, settings, etc. I am a shameless true crime documentary addict, too.
Toni Morrison once said “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I really love this idea of writing the kind of book you’ve always wanted to read. In creating my protagonist Roxane Weary, a bisexual private investigator, I was trying to do just that.
How would you describe your writing to anyone who hasn’t read your books?
I would say I write hardboiled mysteries for fans of Sue Grafton or Dennis Lehane, with a healthy dose of feminism.
Do you think social media helps in regard to promotion and drumming up publicity for a new book?
Social media is an incredible tool for connecting with communities. No one likes following a writer who just tweets about her own work all the time, so I think it’s more about relationships and conversations than it is about promotion. But it’s essential to have that channel open!
What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?
Research! I love that stage of a project where I’m just Googling stuff and making notes. It’s so full of possibility. I also love mentoring other writers through online contests such as Pitch Wars and Teen Pitch.
What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?
Not sure that I have a “least” fave! It’s all pretty great. But self-promotion is tough—like many writers, I’m an introvert. But my excitement about the book helps me put that aside when necessary.
Where do you see your writing career 5 years from now?
Hopefully writing a bunch more Roxane Weary mysteries. I’ve got ideas for a few standalone crime novels too.
What’s next for you?
Speaking of standalone crime novels, I’m in the planning stages of a project about, among other things, donuts and female rage.
I often wonder are authors voracious readers. Do you read much, and if so, what kind of books do you enjoy?
Definitely a huge reader! I read a lot of mysteries and literary fiction. My favorites include Tana French, Sue Grafton, Richard Price, Joan Didion, and Tom Drury—it’s a pretty long list.
Can you tell me your all time favourite book, or if you have to, your top 5?
All-time favorite is a really tough call! But there are 2 books I can read and re-read over and over without ever getting tired of them: THE DRIFTLESS AREA by Tom Drury and SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut.
Has there been any books you’ve read that you wish you had written?
I wish I’d written Helen DeWitt’s THE LAST SAMURAI. It’s about as far away from a mystery novel as you can get, but it has a delightfully inventive structure that would make any writer jealous.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I’m a graphic designer by day.
Have you any hobbies that aren’t book-related?
Most of my hobbies relate to books in some way, but I also play the guitar. And I spend an embarrassing amount of time trying to take adorable pictures of my cats.
What’s your favourite holiday destination?
My favorite place to travel is probably Iceland. I’ve been there twice and would go back this afternoon, if possible. I love the surreal quality of the landscape and the fresh, fresh air.
Anything spicy—the spicier the better.
If we’re at a bar, I’ll order an old fashioned or a bourbon on the rocks. Coffee shop? Tea with mint has my name on it.
Last but not least, why writing? Why not something else?
Writing fiction gives me the opportunity to create a different version of the world—one where the bad guys go to jail, the right people do the right things, the conversation always sparkles… It’s an escape, like reading is, and I find it irresistible.
Huge thanks to Lauren at Faber for the opportunity to take part in the blog tour and to Kristen for answering my questions! 🙂
Check out the blog tour: