When true-crime writer Olivia Cruz disappears with no signs of foul play, her new boyfriend, Lincoln Sharp, suspects the worst. He knows she didn’t leave willingly and turns to attorney Morgan Dane and PI Lance Kruger to find her before it’s too late.
As they dig through Olivia’s life, they are shocked to discover a connection between her current book research on two cold murder cases and the suicide of one of Morgan’s prospective clients.
As Morgan and Lance investigate, the number of suspects grows, but time is running out to find Olivia alive. When danger comes knocking at their door, Morgan and Lance realize that they may be the killer’s next targets.
Save Your Breath is the sixth and final book in Melinda Leigh’s series of suspense novels featuring defence attorney Morgan Dane, who – together with her three young daughters – moved back to her home town of Scarlet Falls following the death of her husband on active service. Over the course of the series, Morgan has found love again with Lance Kruger, her former high-school sweetheart, and the couple are planning their wedding, which is due to take place in just a few weeks’ time.
Lance was a police officer and now works as a PI for the firm run by his former colleague and mentor, Lincoln Sharp; Morgan works from an office in the same building and the three are very close and have successfully worked a number of cases together. Their latest case, however, is one that hits very close to home for Sharp when the woman he’s been dating for the past six months or so, investigative reporter Olivia Cruz, goes missing after having arranged to meet with the three of them the next day to discuss something she’s been working on.
With no other clues or information to go on, Sharp, Lance and Morgan start digging to see if they can tie Olivia’s disappearance to any of her current research projects. They learn that she’s late with a book proposal to her editor, and find a couple of avenues of investigations to pursue, both of which appear to be related to cases of possibly wrongful conviction and imprisonment – and one of them is coincidentally connected to a meeting Morgan took just that morning. But of course nothing is ever simple, and the plot takes several unexpected and cleverly executed twists and turns before all is revealed.
Save Your Breath is a suspenseful and enjoyable read in which the author steadily builds the tension as Sharp, Lance and Morgan race against time to find Olivia, while never losing sight of the fact that these are people with complicated lives and complex emotions. Sharp has always been something of a steading presence in the other novels in the series – even a bit of a control freak; calm and unflappable, he’s a solid, dependable presence, but here, it’s almost painful to witness him as he starts to unravel. At fifty-three, he’s been single for some time, and as both he and Olivia have been burned by past romantic relationships, they’ve been content to take things slowly. But as Sharpe struggles to keep it together and remain positive about finding her, he realises he can’t imagine life without her.
As always, one of the most enjoyable elements of these books is provided by the characters and the relationships between them. Morgan and Lance are a solid couple who love and support each other unconditionally, and I applaud the author for showing that parenting three children aged seven and under is no picnic and how both of them put their family first. (The scene where Lance takes the girls shopping for Halloween costumes is cuteness overload!)
I did have a few small problems with the novel overall. I was pleased when I learned it would focus on a story for Sharp and Olivia, who have been striking sparks off each other since Olivia first appeared in an earlier book in the series – so I was a bit disappointed to discover that they’ve been dating for several months by the time this story takes place. I’d hoped for a little more romantic development, maybe them working alongside each other for a while before the kidnap occurred – and I have to say that the final reveal as to who was behind it and why had me scratching my head a little. Not because it didn’t make sense, but because it was a bit of an anti-climax after everything Olivia had gone through.
Those niggles apart, Save Your Breath is a fast-paced page-turner featuring a clever mystery and a group of engaging, multi-faceted characters I’ve grown fond of. It’s a fitting finale to what’s been a solidly entertaining series and fans are bound to enjoy it.