One Last Kill (Thomas & Mercer, Oct. 3), the 10th book in bestselling author Robert Dugoni’s stellar Tracy Crosswhite series, finds the quick-witted Seattle homicide detective in hot pursuit of a cold case killer. Tracy’s penchant for unsolved mysteries, coupled with Dugoni’s verve for depicting her police work, make this a can’t-miss for crime fans. The novel made our list of the Best Fiction of 2023. Dugoni answered some questions by email.
How have Det. Tracy Crosswhite’s priorities changed over the course of 10 books?
I wanted a character who evolved as the series evolved. We all change and adapt as we age. Tracy is no exception. She starts off singularly focused, obsessed with her sister’s death, but in time she learns to focus on the living—first herself, then Dan, and then their child, Daniella—while never losing her drive to find justice for the families of the victims.
What are the pleasures and challenges of writing this incredible character?
Making Tracy real, yet larger than life, is always a challenge. Tracy has to be relatable, but she also has to do what other detectives have not accomplished, like solving long-dormant cold cases.
You write Seattle beautifully. Do you have to love a place to write it that well?
I don’t think you have to love a location to write it well, but I think you have to appreciate it. I used to struggle with winter in Seattle. It’s dark late into the morning and early in the evening. It’s cold, and the rain can be unrelenting. I had to learn to appreciate the seasons, the little nuances—like fires in the fireplace, winter fishing, the beauty of the snow—and to use those seasons as obstacles Tracy must overcome.
What are some of the best books you’ve read in 2023?
Two come to mind. Kristin Hannah’s The Women [coming in February 2024] is fantastic, and The Spy Coast by Tess Gerritsen is over-the-top wonderful. I read every genre so long as it’s a good story, one with characters who have heart and a driven plot.
What’s your perfect reading scenario—location, time of day, creature comforts, type of story?
I recently put in an outdoor patio. In the spring and summer, I love to sit outside and read. This fall, and with winter approaching, I’ll read by the fireplace. I’ve turned off the television. The news is depressing and the shows repetitive, but a good story, one that takes me away and makes me invest in the characters’ lives, is a priceless gift.
Megan Labrise is the editor at large and host of Kirkus’ Fully Booked podcast.