The Last Word by Kathy Herman is the second book in the Sophie Trace series. Brill Jessup is facing a new series of crises. Her daughter Vanessa has come home from college seven months pregnant, and the baby's father has disappeared. Plus a man she put in prison fifteen years ago is determined to get revenge, but Brill is only his final target, he intends to hurt as many people as possible to get to her. Brill will have to rely on the brilliance from which she acquired her nickname and on her trust in God to make it through. Herman has populated Sophie Trace with several likable small town characters from nosy Tessa to curmudgeonly Gus. She addresses something usually left out in series like this: when a main character becomes the focus of killer after killer, the city council is ready to fire her for the negative media attention as well as the cost in tax dollars. It keeps the series grounded in reality, as does Kurt and Brill's marriage and relationship with their children. The only places the story stalls are when Herman inserts brief sermons on abortion, premarital sex, and salvation. The dialogue there doesn't ring true and seems forced. The climactic salvation exchange is completely different; it's powerful and moving. I definitely look forward to the next book in the series, although I do hope that the Jessup family has a break from the constant threat of violence.
In this second book in the series Brill is caught in a situation that has stress coming at her from every direction, at work an ex-con is out to kill her but before he does that he wants to torture her by killing the policemen on her team first, her collage daughter returns home pregnant with a missing boyfriend, and her youngest daughter is still in the throws of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome from the story in the first book. How can she handle it all? Can she rely on God? Kathy has not disappointed us with this second book. Her characters are well developed and there is enough background included so you won't feel lost if you haven't read the first book of the series. She has really tuned in to the feelings that a middle child would have and the uncertainty resulting from finding herself pregnant and wondering what on earth to do and how to explain it to her Christian parents. Although it is a police drama, it isn't so much about the police department as about the woman who leads it. It shows that no matter what the job, there is a real person with real problems behind the title. This book is about a family and how they rise above terror through their faith and in the process witness to others. Very good read