Chris Matheson Cold Case #3
What I Loved:
This was a fun mystery that got me so invested in the characters. They are silly and fun, and loving to each other. Their banter showed me just how good of friends they are, and how long they have known each other. It made me feel like I had been friends with them that long as well. Additionally, there is some really great (and silly) stuff that happens with the dogs and their over-sized personalities. It just made me laugh a lot. It was outrageous and perfect for the story. This was the first book I have read by Lauren Carr, but it will not be my last!
How I Felt:
This is the third book in the Chris Matheson Cold Case Series, and I was a bit worried that I would be unable to connect with the characters or understand the backstory. Lauren Carr did an excellent job of making sure that was not an issue. She introduced characters in a way that offered a new reader insight into character history, while not boring someone who has read the previous books. The murder mystery was the main story, and there was a BONUS second mystery, which made the book extra fun. The plot unfolded in a way that made me interested in what would happen next and there was just a bit of action to make me nervous at times.
To Read or Not To Read:
If you enjoy murder mysteries that are a bit less serious, this is a perfect book for you. The murder was real and the danger was real, but the characters managed to find love and laughter in the middle of it all.
At seven years old, Chris Matheson met the author Mercedes Livingston while with his mother at the Hill House Hotel. The last thing Mercedes Livingston said to Chris was “I’m working on my greatest mystery ever” and then she disappeared.
What happened to Mercedes Livingston remains a mystery as we pick up the story decades later. Mercedes and her husband were seen leaving the hotel in their car followed by a ransom note for money. Mercedes’ husband was found dead after the ransom had been paid, but Mercedes was never found.
Chris and his fellow retired group of friends pick up the pieces of the mystery as clues begin to surface. As they talk over these clues, their interest is piqued and they must get to the bottom of this mystery!
Where to Find This Book:
Author Interview with Lauren Carr, Author of THE LAST THING SHE SAID, A Chris Matheson Cold Case Mystery
1. If you could go anywhere in the galaxy, where would you go and why?
Disney World because I have never been to Disney World. Yes, that one person on the planet who has never been to Disney World—that’s me!
When I was growing up, we were too poor to go to Disney World. Then, when I grew up, it seemed weird for me to go to Disney World without a kid. Also, my husband had no desire to go to Disney World. He is not an amusement park guy. So, I had my son Tristan. Most people have children because they love kids. I had one as an excuse to go to Disney World. Some friends told me to wait until he was old enough, like about seven years old, before we went. By the time he was seven, my son was not into amusement parks. You see, my son was born a forty-year-old man. He’s into tours of the Library of Congress, not the Magic Castle.
Maybe I can rent a kid to take.
2. What book do you think every young adult needs to read in order to be more prepared for the reality of grown-up life?
The Holy Bible. I have to say it. The irony is that I did a giant eye roll when I was given a Bible as a high school graduation gift. But then, after stumbling through life, and getting married and having my son, and being denied the opportunity to go to Disney World, I decided to see what was inside the best-selling book in the world.
It takes a commitment to read the Bible and an effort to understand it. I had to take some Bible Study classes but eventually I discovered that everything, the answer to every question I had, every lesson I needed to learn, and every piece of advice any of us needs is in that book. All we have to do is look for it.
3. Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?
Chris Matheson is an everyman. He can be a bad-ass when need be, but generally, he’s the type of guy anyone would want to have for a friend—compassionate and loyal.
When I started putting together the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries, I went in search of a character who was much different from my other series characters. That meant putting him in a different circumstance—a different stage of his life.
In ICE, we meet Chris after he has experienced a series of horrific changes. The loss of his wife while working overseas leaves him to raise his three daughters alone. The death of his beloved father to a heart attack is the catalyst to make him retire from his career as an FBI agent and move his daughters back to the family farm. He takes care of the farm while his mother helps to raise his daughters.
Notice that Chris lives with his mother and has three daughters. At the beginning of ICE, even his mother’s two dogs and the children’s rabbit (named Thor) are female. Chris is surrounded by women! I lifted that from a stage in my life in which I was surrounded by men—none of whom understood me. It was a friend who pointed out to me one day, “Even your dogs are all male!” Yep!
Yet, Chris handles it all in stride. He enjoys his family. He coaches his daughter’s soccer team. He chaperones on school field trips. He enjoys his family because he’s seen first-hand how lucky he is. Chris had spent many years working undercover, infiltrating crime organizations, for the FBI. He’s witnessed the worst in people. For that reason, there are numerous contracts out for his life.
Chris Matheson knows how to adapt, not by strong-arming, but with reason, compassion, and sometimes humor. And if that doesn’t work—he’s always heavily armed.
4. What made you decide to sit down and actually start writing something?
I believe writers are born. I have been making up stories since I can remember. It just seemed natural for me to start writing them down. I’d write humor columns for daily newspapers. Not mysteries—that was much too intimidating.
I started writing murder mysteries late, though. I love murder mysteries so much, I devour them. I believed that only someone who was immensely clever could plot and write a murder mystery that would challenge mystery lovers.
What made me start writing murder mysteries? Well, my husband would bring home murder mysteries for me to read and I’d figure out the killer by page twenty. Or I would read up to page 270 of a 320-page book and there still wouldn’t be a dead body. Finally, one day I tossed a book across the room and I said, “I could write a murder mystery better than this!”
So I did.
5. How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’d like to think my writing has matured.
When I first started writing novels, my characters, while always three dimensional, were basic people. When developing the characters, I would search for their motivation and what made them tick. But now, as I have matured, so has my writing. I find that I now go beyond searching for their motivation, but also, what can my protagonist, and the reader, learn from this case.
That is not to say that I decide I’m going to teach my readers a lesson or preach to them about something. No! Not at all. I always go into a murder mystery with the intent of committing murder and then solving it. It’s afterwards that I ponder, “What can be learned from this?”
I examine the theme of the book after I finish writing it. Sometimes, I discover the theme to be a humorous observation. For example, the theme for Candidate for Murder was:
“Politics have no relation to morals.”Niccolò Machiavelli Italian author, 1469-1527
Other times, it’s meant to give the reader something to think about while reading my mystery.
For The Last Thing She Said, the epigraph is from Tony Hawk, an athlete, who said, “You might not make it to the top, but if you are doing what you love, there is much more happiness there than being rich or famous.”
You’ll have to read The Last Thing She Said to understand the meaning behind that quote.
6. How do you relax?
7. What are you working on at the moment?
I’m really excited to be working on the fourth installment in the Thorny Rose Mysteries entitled The Nutcracker Conspiracy.
Three years ago, the nation gasped in horror when the President of the United States barely escaped an assassination attempt while watching a performance of The Nutcracker that left two dead—the vice president’s wife and the assassin.
Even after numerous investigations proved otherwise, conspiracy theorists still argue that the would-be assassin was acting on orders from the CIA, FBI, and every federal agency within a hundred miles of the capital in what became known as the Nutcracker Conspiracy.
An aspiring author who spent more time enjoying his executive wife’s money than writing, Dean Conway is the last person with whom Lieutenant Commander Murphy Thornton USN wanted to spend his Saturday afternoon when they end up at the same wedding reception table. While their wives tend to bridesmaid duties, Murphy is trapped listening to Dean’s latest unfinished work-in-project—completing the manuscript of an unknown investigative journalist who’d disappeared suddenly months earlier while investigating The Nutcracker Conspiracy.
“She was number twelve you know,” Dean says.
“Twelve?” Murphy askes while looking for someone, anyone, to offer him an escape.
“Twelve witnesses connected to or investigating the Nutcracker conspiracy have either disappeared or died suddenly.”
Two days later, Dean Conway dies suddenly, but not without sending a text message to Murphy.
I was provided an advanced reader’s copy of this book for free. I am leaving my review voluntarily.