When All the Girls Have Gone, by Jayne Ann Krentz

>> Tuesday, August 21, 2018

TITLE: When All the Girls Have Gone
AUTHOR: Jayne Ann Krentz

PAGES: 352

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Romantic suspense
SERIES: Cutler, Sutter & Salinas #1

Jayne Ann Krentz, the New York Times bestselling author of Secret Sisters, delivers a thrilling novel of the deceptions we hide behind, the passions we surrender to, and the lengths we’ll go to for the truth...

When Charlotte Sawyer is unable to contact her stepsister, Jocelyn, to tell her that one of her closest friends was found dead, she discovers that Jocelyn has vanished.

Beautiful, brilliant—and reckless—Jocelyn has gone off the grid before, but never like this. In a desperate effort to find her, Charlotte joins forces with Max Cutler, a struggling PI who recently moved to Seattle after his previous career as a criminal profiler went down in flames—literally. Burned out, divorced and almost broke, Max needs the job.

After surviving a near-fatal attack, Charlotte and Max turn to Jocelyn’s closest friends, women in a Seattle-based online investment club, for answers. But what they find is chilling...

When her uneasy alliance with Max turns into a full-blown affair, Charlotte has no choice but to trust him with her life. For the shadows of Jocelyn’s past are threatening to consume her—and anyone else who gets in their way...
This was exactly what I expected. Zero surprises. If I had had to predict what I'd think of this romantic mystery before starting it, I would have been spot-on. A nice romance with flashes of what made JAK such a beloved author in the 90s (but not quite enough of it). But a tedious mystery that tries for twistiness but instead goes for pointless, unbelievable overcomplication.

I won't waste much time describing the mystery plot. It involves a group of women who have formed an investment club which, we realise early, is a cover for something else. One of them, Louise, is dead in a seeming drug overdose, and another, Jocelyn, has disappeared, purportedly to a month-long no-electronic-devices-allowed retreat. PI Max Cutler is investigating the overdose death (as Louise's cousin suspects foul play), and during the investigation he meets Charlotte Sawyer, Jocelyn's sister. But after Max and Charlotte discover Louise's death might have something to do with events in Jocelyn's past, Jocelyn's absence starts to look worrying, and Max and Charlotte start working together to find out what's going on.

Max and Charlotte are just lovely together. They're people who might be seen by certain others as boring and somewhat loser-ish. Max used to be an FBI profiler but his career and marriage imploded, and he's now struggling to get his PI business off the ground and kind of regretting having bought a big house for which the term fixer-upper may be a bit of an understatement. Charlotte has just been jilted, only days before her wedding, and even her therapist has gently enquired if it might not be because she's so unspontaneous and boring (the last was unstated, but unmistakable). But to each other, they are fascinating and incredibly exciting. They instinctively mesh and work perfectly together, each respecting the other's abilities, with complete trust. They were sweet. I wanted more of them together.

This is the first in a series (a trilogy, I'm assuming) featuring three men who were taken in and fostered by a gruff police chief, Anson Salinas, after he rescued them from a cult when they were young children. The boys became brothers and Anson their father. But as they grew up, they remained convinced that the cult leader is still alive, in spite of him having supposedly died in an accident. There's not a lot about this particular element in WATGHG beyond it being a big reason behind the implosions of Max's career and marriage, and some lovely interactions with Anson, who's recently retired and is clearly seeking something to do. I suspect it's going to become a larger element later in the series, and I think it could be quite good (the family stuff, not the plot, necessarily).

There's also some nice stuff with Max's birth family. He's discovered who his birth father is, but the man is not happy when Max contacts him and thinks he's a scammer (it was a sperm donor situation, and the man is now very successful, so it's understandable). I liked those sections, but they were much too light and short and I wanted more.

Most of the time, unfortunately, was spent on the mystery. The investigation itself was fine, as we followed Max and Charlotte working together. It was just the crap plotting. Every single time Krentz will have like 4 different killers working quasi independently, with different motivations. I think she probably thinks it makes the mystery more exciting and surprising, but when you do it for every single book, it's just predictable. Meh.

MY GRADE: Still, I liked the romance enough to give this a B-.


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