The Last Breath

By Danny Lopez
Oceanview Publishing
ISBN 978-1608092970
Publication Date: October, 2018

The Last Breath

Review by G. Robert Frazier

Take a deep breath and hang on. Danny Lopez’s new novel, The Last Breath, is a riveting, old-school whodunnit/private investigator novel that’ll leave you gasping for air.

Set on Siesta Key, one of the barrier islands off the coast of Sarasota, Fla., the novel once again revolves around down-and-out journalist-turned-investigator Dexter Vega, who made his debut in The Last Girl. Lacking a steady paycheck and desperate for work, Vega is easily convinced to turn his journalistic nose for news into investigative work for a private client, eccentric real estate mogul Bob Fleming, who believes his son, Liam, was murdered. Liam was an expert swimmer but apparently drowned in four feet of calm water while out on his kayak. Thing is, the police are satisfied Liam is an accidental drowning victim,  have no reason to suspect foul play, and don’t like journalists poking around where they shouldn’t be.

Vega does what any good reporter would do, he asks questions and gets under the skin of a lot of folks. Of Liam’s quirky beach-bum friends. Of Liam’s mysterious business associates. Of Liam’s lovers. And he turns up clues. Clues that hint at illicit drugs and secret real estate deals, among other things. And as in any good mystery novel, the suspect list, and the danger grows exponentially with each new revelation. It’s not long before another victim turns up, in a similar water-related death. 

Lopez’s prose is fast-paced and addictively fun. Vega comes across as a typically cynical journalist, a terrible father to his daughter, and is easy to dislike, but he quickly grows on you the more you get to know him. The novel’s setting immediately evokes fond memories of John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series of books or, for TV crime lovers, the gruff and miserable James Rockford.

Robert Frazierwrites about other writers and their works on his blogand other sites such as BookPage. He has served as a script reader for both the Austin Film Festival and Nashville Film Festival screenwriting competitions and is a member of the Tennessee Screenwriting Association.