THE LAST GOODBYE by H. Michael Frase


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Frase’s second suspense novel (Fatal Gift, 1996) moves from his former venue of Nashville to Carmel, California, where well-to-do Josh Mitchell finds his past slipping away when a beautiful woman’s body rolls up on the beach. Flying from New York to San Francisco, Mitchell, a top salesman, finds a gorgeous, intelligent, and blond art historian seated beside him in first class. Their six hours together blow him instantly and deeply into love, and the feeling seems mutual. They dine in Carmel, then she comes to his hotel room for a talk. Next morning her drowned body lies on the beach, and the suicide note she’s left indicates that her name is not Pamela Morrow, as she’d told Mitchell, but Dianne Lane. As it happens, art historian Dianne Lane had headed a museum funded by a reclusive billionaire and may have been his longtime mistress. He has recently died, under mysterious circumstances. And now, Mitchell becomes the chief suspect in what turns out to be Pamela/Dianne’s murder. Soon the FBI is after him, as well as a gaggle of hit men. Meanwhile, in an attempt to penetrate the mystery surrounding Pamela/Dianne’s death, Mitchell flies to Jackson, Mississippi, looks into Pamela’s history and questions her old friends, including mulatto Marie Edwards. Marie tells him that Pamela died in a freak car accident eight years ago, and newspaper articles confirm this. How can he free himself from police harassment if he can’t figure out whether Pamela and Dianne were the same person? And who, in fact, was Dianne Lane? Readers will have intuited some answers fairly early, and the explanations that come seem skimpy even, shall we say, pathetic. And for a work turning on art historians, there’s precious little talk of art. Still, the legitimate suspense of the chase keeps one intrigued--until a rather too obvious fairy-tale ending billows up both true love and gazillions of dollars. (First printing of 50,000; $50,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-7867-0514-0
Page count: 368pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1998