Last Seen

by J. L. Doucette

The last time psychotherapist Pepper Hunt saw her patient Kimi Benally was a blizzard-threatened Friday night before Christmas.

Kimi spoke of feeling threatened and watched. She talked about her work as a reporter investigating a serial rapist. She worried about her disassociated states where she would find herself in places not knowing how or why she was there.

She pointed to a beautiful pair of red leather and silver-studded boots and told Pepper she had no idea where the boots had come from. She found them in her car.

After Kimi leaves Pepper’s office that night, she disappears.

All of Rock Springs, WY, is set on edge. Her family on the Arapahoe Reservation pressure her cousin, Detective Beau Antelope, to find her. Her younger brother Diego, whom she protected during their chaotic and abusive childhood, chafes at parole restrictions that forbid him from leaving Sweetwater County to search for her.

Kimi’s narcissistic husband, wilderness guide Keven Cahill, is more concerned with the inconvenience of police questioning and the ego-blow that his wife may have left him than he is with where Kimi is. His new lover, Tracy, willingly lies for him — until the police make it clear that she could be in legal trouble.

But two people close to Kimi have a particularly difficult time. For Pepper, Kimi’s disappearance coincides with the second anniversary of the murder of her husband and his lover, whom Pepper hadn’t known about until then. For Sheriff Carlton Scruggs, Kimi’s disappearance raises haunting memories of another missing girl in Lander, WY. His failure to find her or the person responsible for her disappearance and probable death cost him his job and career prospects.

This is a haunting story with strong characters and many suspects. The ending is a stunner.

This is the first of author J. L. Doucette’s Dr. Pepper Hunt mysteries. It was followed by On a Quiet Street, in which Pepper and Beau join forces to investigate the murder of Sweetwater County prosecutor’s fiancée a month before their wedding. Doucette is working on the third book in the series, Unknown Assailant.

This book reminded me of Patricia McLinn’s mystery series set in Wyoming and featuring television reporter Elizabeth Margaret Danniher. Those books are Sign Off, Left Hanging, Shoot First and Last Ditch.

The Author: J. L. Doucette

Trained as a psychologist, J. L. Doucette’s books focus on the intersection between psychology and the law.

Doucette moved to southwest Wyoming after earning her doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston University. She currently is based in Providence, RI.

She had just finished writing this book when a body was found in the backyard of a house where her family had lived, giving her a new perspective about writing mystery stories.


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