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.
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