Review: Last One Alive (A Coroner's Daughter Mystery, #3) by Jennifer Graeser Dornbush


Print Length: 301 pages
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing (October 24, 2023)

From Dr. Emily Hartford is back in Chicago, ready to move forward and leave the past behind, until an unexpected request for help sends her deep into an investigation—and into the path of a killer.

Seventeen months after the Parkman case, Dr. Hartford has returned to Chicago to finish her surgical residency. But when she is contacted out of the blue by Solange McClelland, the only survivor of a decade-old triple homicide, Emily is compelled to dig deeper. She doesn’t know the details of the event but remembers it as one of the few cases her deceased father never solved.

On her thirtieth birthday, Solange opens a long-forgotten safe-deposit box and is entirely baffled by what she finds. Inside are not only painful reminders of a once-happy youth but almost four million dollars—enough to pursue and finally solve the mystery of who brutally murdered her family. It’s been over ten years, and Solange has built a new life in Detroit with her husband, Joseph. But there are certain disturbing questions about her past that she is determined to answer. So she reaches out to the only one who might know something about her family’s deaths and their possibly erroneous death certificates — Dr. Hartford, the daughter of Freeport’s former medical examiner.

Finding it impossible to believe that her scrupulous father made a mistake, Emily joins Solange’s pursuit of the truth, and as subzero temperatures blanket snow-covered Michigan, the two women pursue justice in two very different ways. But lurking nearby in the frigid cold is a crafty, unrepentant killer, determined to finish what he started long ago.


My Rating: 1 star out of 5

This book was exceedingly difficult to get into. To begin with, while I understand and appreciate that this was an advanced copy, and has (hopefully) undergone more edits between the copy I read and the version that was published, but the amount of sentences that had words that were either not needed (But only when until you come back) or ones that were missing words (he genuinely shaken up by it) are just two of many examples that I found throughout. To be honest, it was distracting and pulled me from the story. 

Then we have our two main characters. Solange was an interesting one for sure. I can completely understand wanting to know what happened to her family, but her tendency to rush head-long into situations (some potentially dangerous) without thinking was just off-putting. I was also confused why she continued to involve Emily in her "investigation" if it can be called that despite the information they uncover. 

The same goes for Emily, she had her own issues revolving around the surgery center she recently purchased (which was another question for me, why was this secondary plot needed when it did nothing to move the main plot forward)? Then again Emily was the most wishy-washy irritating character I have come across in a long time. She is worried about her ex who is undercover in China. Except she's then dating/sleeping with her ex. Well until she gets word her boyfriend might actually be alive over there in which case she is once again dropping everything, only this time she's leaving the country to try and track down her ex. 

Yeah, if that left you confused, imagine how I felt even after reading this story. 

Those things considered, I don't think I would read more from this series, although I may give this author another chance down the road.

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

                                               Last One Alive is available on

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