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Author Gregg Olsen writes mysteries against the backdrop of the American Pacific Northwest. 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, her setting is the Puget Sound region between Olympia and Seattle, Washington.

A young Seattle wife and mother who is an executive at Starbucks goes missing and is later found murdered while vacationing with her family on the Sound. The family is staying in a vacation rental on the coast. His is the three-in-the-middle, old-fashioned cabin.

The occupants of the other two cabins see or hear nothing as the woman is snatched from a lawn chair overlooking the water. Her husband and her daughter are close to shore in a boat, witnessing everything, but they can’t make it to the beach before she and her attacker disappear. The other witness is an old man who was 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. Unbeknownst to many who live in the area, the cabins were built in the 1920s during prohibition and hold secrets from the days of rum prohibition when liquor was brought from here to Seattle. To see is not to believe in the accounts of the witnesses. Did the old man and the husband actually see the kidnapped woman as they sat outside looking at her family in the water? This is a difficult police case to solve. There are many twists and turns before the ending that make 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 with views of 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 making the community emerge as a high-tech hub.

Many of Bend’s silicon transplants have come with lots of new money to support a wealthy lifestyle. This separates them from long-time Bend residents whose incomes are closer to the middle class. However, many old and new residents hang out and try to make friends.

The three-year-old son of a river-dwelling couple who are silicon transplants disappears when his mother, who is watching him, looks away to take a phone call. What happened? Charlie fell into the river? Did a passerby take it? Day after day the questions continue, what happened to Charlie?

Several search the river and no body is found. Charlie’s parents look at each other closely. His neighbors, born and raised in Bend, rush to comfort his new friends. Both couples begin to unravel as they take a deeper look at themselves and their marriages. But still, the most important question, what happened to Charlie?

A widower in his 70s and retired doctor from Bend lives across the river from the lavish home of the missing boy. Dr. Miller watches the river through binoculars and often witnesses the messy lives of his neighbors. Does Dr. Miller know anything about Charlie’s disappearance that might help solve the case? The police visit his house, but find nothing to help their investigation.

Afterwards, Dr. Miller disappears, but his car remains in his garage. Is Dr. Miller sick or injured? Twists and turns abound. Lives and marriages are being torn apart. Will Charlie be found alive? Will Dr. Miller be found safe and sound? When this is over, will the parents of the missing child 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 Did there are hints that Charlie is alive, but where? What about Dr. Miller? The mysterious ending comes with an unexpected surprise.

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