Title: One Last Secret (Ella Perri Mysteries Book 2)
Author: Krissy Baccaro
Genre: Mystery / Crime
Ella Perri is back and trying to focus on work when a series of chilling events force her to confront her family’s past once again and return to Italy. While there, Ella faces a race against time to solve the final puzzle…
One Last Secret is the sequel to Buried Secrets and continues exploring the dark mystery at the heart of the Perri family. Notwithstanding the odd complexity, it is capable of being a standalone read. The light, conversational prose helps introduce relevant elements of backstory, and the reader soon becomes fully immersed into this diverse Italian family.
The majority of the novel is written in dual timelines, present day and 1939. A few chapters also dip into events of two years previously. The contemporary chapters shift perspective between first-person for Ella and third person for Luca. It’s a clever tactic and one of a number that are employed throughout One Last Secret to involve the reader on a series of past and present levels.
Ella’s viewpoint enables the reader to feel a stronger connection with her and an immediacy to the events that unfold around her. Luca’s chapters emphasize his detachment from the majority of the family and help the reader maintain a curious objectivity toward him.
As this is the second outing for Ella, her character is already fairly established and she begins One Last Secret as believable and relatable. Her frustrations are subtly expressed and, as the novel progresses, she exudes a quiet tenacity which is convincing and compelling.
Luca is less straightforward. The reader is never too sure whether he acted entirely for his own reasons. There are momentary flashes of compassion and regret, which play with reader sympathy and his unpredictability holds interest.
However, One Last Secret is essentially full of strong, female characters, and they are all depicted with insight and individuality, especially Gianna, whom the reader meets in the parallel narrative set in 1939.
Gianna is possessed with an unwavering, yet modest, determination. Her chapters, like Luca’s, are told in third person, and the rhythm is gentler, which nicely balances the urgent tempo of the present-day action.
The past is evoked not only through the delicate use of period detail, but through the measured and restrained manner in which Gianna expresses her raw emotions to the outside world. She turns them into her strengths rather than viewing them as weaknesses. Gianna is an intriguing character, and her story is absorbing.
There is a strong sense of place in the novel, and the landscape of Tuscany is written almost as another character. Its languid beauty is lovingly realized and contrasts sharply and effectively with the cold brutality of occurring events. Ms. Baccaro is skilled at writing some seriously unnerving passages that prey convincingly on fear of the unknown and, consequently, there are some thrilling scenes.
Although the narrative flows from one central root, there are branching elements encompassing romance, superstition, and even a brief introduction to the mind of a serial killer. Occasionally, the story is a fingertip stretch away from testing credulity. There are a couple of anomalies with the plot, but the suspense is efficiently paced, and the writing breezy enough to ensure the reader is carried smoothly through the twists and reveals.
One Last Secret is a well-crafted and ambitiously plotted novel of family secrets, drama, and deception. The story effortlessly weaves present with past events to produce an entertaining and intriguing cross-generational mystery that is, for the most part, set against the warmth and charm of the glorious Tuscan scenery.
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