WHEN ALL THE GIRLS HAVE GONE – Jayne Ann Krentz
Seattle, Washington – The Present
Charlotte Sawyer hasn't heard from her stepsister since Jocelyn decided on a month long retreat to a convent on a Caribbean island. While at Jocelyn's apartment to water plants and, as per her stepsister's request, she opens a package that looks important. Inside the package she finds a set of keys to Jocelyn's best friend Louise's apartment. The two belong to a small investment group that Jocelyn wouldn't let Charlotte join. A short note puzzles Charlotte. She calls Louise at her office only to learn Louise is dead, presumably from a drug overdose. Charlotte can't believe that. She goes to Louise's apartment where she finds private investigator Max Conway on the case.
Louise Flint's cousin Daniel has inveigled Max to investigate her death. Daniel claims Louise no longer took drugs and was murdered. Reluctantly, Max takes the case with Daniel's promise to pay him in the future. Later, a woman claiming her stepsister is a friend of Louise arrives. Max wants to talk with Charlotte about what she knows, but he is also attracted to her in a very unprofessional way. He thinks Louise's death and Jocelyn's disappearance are too coincidental. He considers Jocelyn's years-ago rape when she was a student on the college campus in Loring, Washington, and the GPS record on Louise's car as the last trip before her death are related in some manner. Louise had gone to Loring with ten thousand dollars in cash.
Max allows Charlotte to help him in his investigation, which not only develops into a sharing of confidences about their respective pasts, but also puts them both in danger. They are unique characters, both honest, loyal, and loving, but in some way estranged from their families. The story has several side tracks about both Charlotte and Max, but it is the activities of the investment group and the characters involved that provide the investigation impetus and intrigue. Besides the absorbing mystery and Max and Charlotte's growing attraction, there are some very emotionally moving scenes, some humor, and many surprises making this a captivating read.