Her Last Day is the first novel of a new series by T.R. Ragan. She is known for writing riveting thrillers whose antagonist always seems to be a gruesome serial killer. The three sub-plots throughout the story are brilliantly weaved together.
The plot has Sacramento California private investigator Jessie Cole drawn to detective work after her sister Sophie disappeared ten years ago. Reporter Ben Morrison who wants to write a series of articles on the still-missing Sophie approaches her. He feels somehow connected to Sophie after seeing her on a TV show about unsolved mysteries. He is hoping that finding her will help him regain his memory that was lost after a horrific car accident a decade ago. Besides finding out what happens to her sister, Jessie is raising her niece, facing charges for shooting a stalker, and is hired to find a mentally unstable girl who is somehow connected to the serial murderer, the Heartless Killer.
Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for this new series?
T. R. Ragan: Whenever I am writing one series I seem to come up with an idea for the next series. At first, I made Ben the main character. But after I started writing this novel I realized I needed a strong female lead even though Ben is very important to the series. The plot morphed from there. I really enjoy being able to analyze the different characters and how they fit in together.
EC: This novel has a range of illnesses?
TR: Yes. It seems in my books there is always some illness I bring in, because I am intrigued by them. In this book there is a character, Zee, who has schizophrenia. I wanted to explore the different levels, because after taking her medication she functions normally. I also delve into Retrograde Amnesia, which is what Ben was diagnosed with after the car accident. Retrograde Amnesia is when the person does not remember anything before the incident. With the other types of amnesia people are able to remember most of their past, but have a hard time with short term memory. What Ben has is almost the direct opposite.
EC: Describe Zee.
TR: She is very intriguing to me. Readers should know she does not have Multiple Personality Disorder where she is a bunch of different people. She just has voices in her head. Her thought process has people talking in her head telling her what to do. She is a loner.
EC: Jessie Cole is the main female lead. How would you describe her?
TR: She is based on some traits from my sisters. One sister in particular is just like her in that she thinks about her whole family and never has time for herself. She takes care of everybody else. I guess I used my sister as my muse. Jessie’s personality is not based on anyone, but I see her as impulsive, compassionate, stubborn, serious, and caring.
EC: What about the male lead, Ben; and Colin, Jessie’s off again/on again boyfriend?
TR: Colin is handsome and borderline cocky. He is still a little bit of a mystery to me. As a detective he always wants to do the right thing and can be a workaholic, especially as he pursues the serial killer. On the other hand, Ben is a super caring guy, who is a family man. In future books readers will see he does have a dark side. Also, Colin does not trust him.
EC: What about the serial killer?
TR: I spend a lot of time in all my books with the antagonist. Sometimes when I wrote him I had sympathy for him. Although, most of the characters who meet him did not have any compassion for him, with an attitude, let me play my violin. For some reason, the easiest scenes to write were the ones with the serial killer. For me, the creepiest scene in the book is when he threw apples at the injured girl who is practically crippled. Readers tell me they will never go to the setting of my books, Sacramento, because that is where all the serial killers live.
EC: Jessie could be the poster child for the song from the play “Annie,” It’s The Hard Knock Life?
TR: Yeah. Her mother left when she was very young, her father is an alcoholic, her sister was always in and out of trouble, and then she disappeared leaving Jessie to bring up her niece. I understood what she went through because my mom was gone a lot after my dad ran off. We had to live in this house that we named The Haunted House. My five sisters and I called each other the Pippi Longstockings.
EC: Part of the theme is to give family’s closure?
TR: Through Jessie I explored how the family copes with someone missing. They are trying to come up with some understanding. They continually ask themselves, ‘what happened to this person?’ It is the not knowing that kills people.
EC: Can you give a heads up about your next book?
TR: It comes out in March of 2018. Jesse will work with Ben to help him uncover his past. Zee will also be back and work with Jessie in solving Cold Cases. Jessie will go on a date with Colin. The plot has a father who is distraught after his daughter dies because the insurance company would not pay for an experimental drug. He becomes angry and the deaths start piling up.
In this page-turner of a thriller by bestselling author T.R. Ragan, unlikely partners PI Jessie Cole and crime reporter Ben Morrison search for clues to a mystery buried in their own pasts—only to discover that sometimes the truth is better off buried.
Ten years ago, PI Jessie Cole and reporter Ben Morrison each suffered a tragedy that changed their lives—and now these two strangers are about to share a nightmare.
For Jessie, who makes her living finding missing persons, no case has consumed her more than the disappearance of her younger sister, Sophie. But left alone to raise Sophie’s daughter, she realizes that solving the case has become an unhealthy obsession.
For Ben, a horrific car accident resulted in scars both physical and emotional—and amnesia that has made his life a mystery. But curiously, out of his shattered memories, there’s one person he recognizes without a doubt: Jessie’s sister. He just doesn’t know why. Yet.
But Sophie isn’t the only phantom drawing Jessie and Ben together. An elusive serial murderer known as the Heartless Killer has reemerged from the shadows. His next move will cut even deeper into Jessie’s worst fears. And for Ben, what happens this time is going to be unforgettable.