In this continuation of her popular series, Andrea Bramhall has tackled perhaps her most difficult and realistic subject matter to date. In this book, which stands alone as easily as it stands as part of the series, Detective Sergeant Kate Brannon is called upon to investigate a terrorist attack that hits extremely close to home. When she learns of her girlfriend Gina’s involvement, and the terrifying and tragic final moments Gina shared with an elderly woman as a result, Kate is torn, but resolute in her determination to solve the crime.
As Kate’s investigation gets deeper and murkier, Gina latches on to a beacon of hope, and together they work their way out of the darkness… but not without facing more danger, fear and hurt along the way. Can they each solve their mystery, and find peace amongst the terror?
In this book, we get to learn more about Gina’s history, and her character fills out and begins to really shine as a result. Throughout the series, Gina has grown into a character more comfortable in her own skin and those of you who have read the first and second books will know just how satisfying and happy that makes me. There is a lot of self-discovery for Gina in the pages of this story, and none of it is unnecessary. By the end, I found myself really admiring the way Gina chooses to live her life and the way she raises her child. I feel like perhaps Gina has been written to be that voice in my head that tells me to keep going, don’t look back and just put one foot in front of the other. It’s an inspiring way to be.
Kate remains one of my most serious lesfic cop crushes of all time. Something about the tender and patient way she loves Gina, and the way she interacts with Gina’s 9 year old daughter Sammy makes me daydream. Not to mention the passion and determination she exudes about her work. Seriously, what a woman. I felt everything Kate felt throughout the story… Andrea Bramhall writes her so well, and she is so raw and exposed on the page that it’s difficult not to like her immensely.
As usual, the supporting cast of characters all offer something wonderful to the storyline. As far as children characters go in lesfic, Sammy is delicious. She is so full of life and laughs, it’s refreshing to see a child character take so much of the storyline and not come across annoying or unnecessary. Honourable mentions to Stella for being hilarious and kick ass, and to Pat, who made me cry before the book had even really started.
The Writing Style
This book is genuinely one you will not want to put down, even when it is done. Right from the start I was sucked into Kate and Gina’s world, and Bramhall takes you along the investigation and all its twists and turns as though you are part of it in a really authentic way. The vivid detail, raw emotions and realistic description of the events that take place left me feeling real fear and sadness… a real positive for me when reading!! The story is paced beautifully, and even though I guessed some of the twists, there were others that surprised me, and I wasn’t disappointed either way.
What I liked most about The Last First Time is that I felt everything as it happened. I felt terror, not just for the characters, but for the world it is written in. I felt the genuine love and tenderness between Kate and Gina, and between them and Sammy. I felt the frustration grow in Kate as the investigation proceeded and ultimately concluded, and I felt the tentativeness and fear in Gina throughout the book and her willingness to seek happiness no matter what. This is a truly fine example of hard-hitting, hard to read but can’t put down, will stay with you a long time reading, and I highly recommend you give it a go… even if you haven’t read the two books that precede it!
This is a story that has strong terrorism themes. If that is something that you don’t want to read, don’t read this book.
The Last First Time is such a painfully relevant read, and despite being fiction, Andrea Bramhall has brought to life the true terror of a bombing attack, and the aftermath for both victims and investigators. While this is 3rd in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone, with only a small part of the storyline being strongly connected to its predecessors. If you can handle feeling fear, anxiety, sadness and joy all in the space of a few hours, set aside those hours and pick up this book. You won’t want to put it down.
Excerpt from The Last First Time by Andrea Bramhall
Stella pulled Gina close and whispered in her ear. “Head for the door, and put the hangers on a rail as you go. Don’t look back. Just walk slowly and get out.”
“What’s going on?” Gina spun and her eyes fell on two women draped in black cloth.
Each had an arm raised in the air, a small black box grasped in their hands. Thumbs poised over a switch. They looked to each other and then grasped the cloth and uncovered their pregnant bellies.
Except they weren’t pregnant bellies.
Small blocks of silver tape were strapped to a vest that hung low over their abdomens. Wires protruded from them and slinked up their shoulders, out of sight.
“A suicide vest?” Stella whispered hoarsely.
Gina nodded, unable to tear her gaze away.
“Yes,” Stella confirmed and shook Gina until she was looking at her again as she dragged her closer to the door. “Now do what I said. Get out of here. When you get outside, call Kate –“
“Why? What are you going to do?”
“We don’t have time for this. Just do it. Call Kate and tell her to get –“
“For Allah!” A woman’s voice rang out above everything else in the shop, then a loud bang cut off the words.
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Collide-o-Scope (Book 1 of the Norfolk Coast Investigations Series)
Under Parr (Book 2 of the Norfolk Coast Investigations Series)
The Last First Time (Book 3 of the Norfolk Coast Investigations Series)
Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9783955339463
- Publisher: Ylva Publishing
Andrea Bramhall Online
Note: I received a free review copy of The Last First Time by Andrea Bramhall. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.
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