Review by Grace Kabliska
Rafferty’s Last Case by Larry Millett is a classic whodunit with a shocking twist. Detective Shadwell Rafferty is investigating the death of Daniel St. Aubin, but just as he is getting close to finding the culprit, he too is murdered. Upon hearing the news, Rafferty’s friends, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, take over the investigation, and the timeline switches between their search for the killer – written through the lens of Dr. Watson’s blog – and the clues that Rafferty uncovered before his mysterious death.
One such clue involves the demise of a young girl named Margaret O’Donnell. The detectives uncover surprising events leading up to the girl’s death, planting suspicion about the legitimacy of the so-called accident. Could it have been connected to the murders of St. Aubin and Rafferty? Throughout the novel, readers see both Rafferty and Holmes scrutinize a slew of suspects including Detective Jackson Grimshaw, novelist Bertram Abbey, Monsignor Pierre Denis, Mayor Richard O’Donnell, and his right hand man, Montgomery Meeks. In the words of Mr. Holmes, “the case began as a forest of possibilities, growing wildly in all directions,” but the riveting finale when the killer is finally revealed is as satisfying as a perfectly maintained garden.
Along the way, the story explores friendships and what it means to lose someone you care about sooner than expected. Will justice stand up to the test, or will matters need to be taken into more capable hands? Full of exciting developments, this story will surprise readers in the best possible ways along the twists and turns of the investigation.
Inviting prose, compelling dialogue, and an engaging cast of characters make it easy to fly through this novel, keeping readers on the edge of their seat until they turn the final pages. It may even be tempting to go right back to the beginning to search for all the clues they missed the first time.
Rafferty’s Last Case is the final of nine Minnesota mystery books featuring Shadwell Rafferty and Sherlock Holmes. These, and Millett’s other books are available from the University of Minnesota Press. Millett’s time as a reporter and architecture critic in St. Paul shines through in the vivid description and atmosphere of his book which will be sure to hold the reader’s attention to the end.
Grace Kabliska is a first year MFA candidate focusing on fiction writing at Minnesota State University, Mankato.