By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
And more murders occur — young, pretty women. One victim is Florence Kwitney, who lost her job at Hughes Aircraft after V-day, and lost her fiancé in the South Pacific. The next is Louise, the girl who first reported Kitty missing. The victims have little in common other than gender and age. All any young woman has to do to place herself in danger is to be alone on the street, where a man can throw her in a car and take her away. Hamilton has constructed a convincing, suspenseful feminist nightmare. Life is scary for these women, and it shows every sign of getting worse — more constricting, more threatening, more dangerous.
As in nightmares, the way evil takes women in The Last Embrace is a pursuit. As a man chases her, the woman tries to run away wearing high heels that catch on things, come off or sink into sand. The few passersby don’t seem to notice, and when she screams for help, all the attacker has to say is, “She’s my wife, and she’s been drinking,” and they go away. And even if she can make it to the safety of a passing car, the driver just might turn out to be a second attacker.
Fighting this pervading evil are two people. One is Lily, who won’t go away and won’t stop asking questions. Lily is watched, chased, stalked, nearly raped, kidnapped and shot at with a submachine gun, but she won’t give up until she knows the truth. The other is her lover, Detective Stephen Pico, who detests the corruption around him and, fortunately, carries the badge and gun that, in this time and place, Lily lacks. The couple’s victory is realistically limited. In the real world, the good guys never vanquish evil. They only put one or two bad people away. But this time they do a fine, entertaining job of it.
THE LAST EMBRACE | By DENISE HAMILTON | Scribner | 400 pages | $15 softcover
Thomas Perry is the author of 16 novels, including, most recently, Fidelity.