Author Gregg Olsen writes mystery novels with the American Pacific Northwest as the backdrop to his location. I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, therefore I have knowledge and interest in the area. In Olsen’s Lying Next to Me the Last Thing She Ever Did, his setting is the Puget Sound region between Olympia and Seattle, Washington.
A young Seattle wife and mother, who is a Starbucks executive, goes missing and is later found murdered while on vacation with her family in the Straits. The family is staying in a vacation rental on the coast. Theirs is the medium three person cabin.
The occupants of the other two cabins see or hear nothing when the woman is snatched from a lawn chair overlooking the water. Her husband and daughter are near the shore in a boat, witnessing everything, but they cannot reach the beach before she and her attacker disappear. The other witness is an old man walking his dog on the beach. He is also not close enough to offer help before the woman and her attacker disappear.
Nothing is what it seems. Unknown to many who live in the area, is that the cabins were built in the 1920s during Prohibition and hold secrets from the prohibition of rum in the days when liquor was brought from here to Seattle. See not believe the accounts of the witnesses. Did the old man and husband really see the raptured woman as she sat outside looking at her family in the water? This is a tough police case to solve. There are many twists and turns before the end that makes Lying Next to Me the Last Thing She Ever Did an energizing mystery novel.
In The Last Thing She Ever Did, Olsen moves the novel’s setting to central Oregon. Bend is a city three hours from Portland overlooking Mount Bachelor, the Three Sisters, and Mount Hood. Bend is also known for outdoor sports and in recent years has become popular for Silicon Valley transplants, which has made the community emerge as a high-tech hub.
Many of Bend’s silicon transplants have come with a lot of money to support a wealthy lifestyle. This sets them apart from former Bend residents whose incomes are closer to the middle class. However, many old and new residents live side by side and try to make friends.
The three-year-old son of a river-living couple who undergo silicon transplants disappears when his mother, who is watching him, looks away to take a phone call. What happened? Charlie fell into the river? Was it taken by a passerby? Day after day the questions continue, what happened to Charlie?
Several search the river and a body is not found. Charlie’s parents look at each other closely. Their Bend-born and raised neighbors rush to comfort their new friends. Both couples begin to unravel as they delve deeper into themselves and their marriages. But still, the most important question, what happened to Charlie?
A widower in his 70s and a retired Bend doctor lives across the river from the missing boy’s luxurious home. Dr. Miller observes the river with binoculars and often witnesses his neighbor’s messy life. Does Dr. Miller know anything about Charlie’s disappearance that could help solve the case? The police visit his home but discover nothing to aid their investigation.
Later, Dr. Miller disappears, but his car remains in his garage. Is Dr. Miller inside sick or injured? Twists and turns abound. Lives and marriages are tearing apart. Will they find Charlie alive? Will they find Dr. Miller alive and well? When this is over, will the missing child’s parents want to stay in Bend or return to Silicon Valley, where people live their lives with more distance from each other? Throughout The Last Thing She Ever, there are hints that Charlie is alive, but where? What about Dr. Miller? The mysterious ending comes with an unexpected surprise.