"The Last Goodbye"
(reviewed by Kam Aures FEB 22, 2004)
"The complete overthrow of my principles. That was what I had done. A moment in time, and my life - previously not lived to the highest standards, but plenty respectable - blew up. The distance between integrity and the loss of innocence proved to be razor-thin, a handful of decisions, frictionless, greased with desire. I thought I was choosing a woman, I thought -- and I will have to swallow this back, but it's the truth and this is the unburdening, after all -- I had earned her. And now she is my ghost, come to judge me."
Three years out of law school, Jack Hammond is a lawyer with the prestigious firm of Carthy, Williams, and Douglas in Atlanta, Georgia when Violeta Ramirez steps into his life.
She came to his office claiming that the police planted drugs on her child's father, Miguel Caliz, and as a result has been arrested. Although Jack's firm does not handle drug cases or any criminal cases at all, Violetta "was exquisitely beautiful, she was crying, and she could not be ignored." Jack convinces a partner to let him take the case and ends up in an intimate relationship with Violetta. Two days after Jack convinces the jury to acquit Caliz, Caliz beats Violetta to death. Jack's deposition is required at this second trial and because of Jack's indiscretions with his client, the law firm of Carthy, Williams and Douglas let Jack go.
The novel, written in first person confessional narrative, takes us to two years later. Jack is self-employed at the bottom of the legal community, relying mostly on court-appointments to pay the bills. One day, Jack receives a phone call from Sammy Liston, the court clerk who assigns the cases, but instead of a case Liston has news for Jack. Doug Townsend, a friend of Jack's since college, has been found dead of a drug overdose. Knowing that Doug had been involved in drugs in the past but had since become clean, Jack questions if this is the true cause of his friend's death and begins to investigate matters himself.
Searching for clues he learns that he had not known as much as he thought about Doug's life; such as, Doug's association with an opera singer and his expertise as a computer hacker. As Jack tries to piece all of these clues together he becomes deeply involved, and just as happened two years earlier, there is yet another beautiful woman seeking his help; this time she is the wife of a most influential business man in Atlanta.
The Last Goodbye is a very fast moving yet complex thriller. Although Jack is a lawyer, this is not a legal thriller or courtroom drama. Arvin touches on many issues throughout the novel including socio-economic class disparities, race, personal morals and business ethics, all of which allow the reader to become more involved and informed with the flow of events. The characters and settings are described expertly and I was able to develop a clear picture of everyone involved and every place described. For , one of Jack's clients, Michael Harrod, is described as having "spikey hair, like Joseph's famed coat: a haircut of many colors. Piercings were numerous and painful-looking. His T-shirt emblazoned with the logo of the band Nine Inch Nails, was badly in need of washing. But in spite of all of this, he was about as scary as an altar boy. At five foot six and 130 pounds, the T-shirt covered a nearly concave chest. His skin, having apparently been deprived of sunlight for the last several years, was as pasty white as unbaked bread." It is descriptive passages such as these that truly draws the reader in.
One of my favorite authors in the legal thriller genre is John Grisham and I feel that Reed Arvin's writing style and talent is very similar to that of Grisham. They both have the ability to write a quality novel that moves at a fast pace and keeps the reader involved and entertained until the very end.
This is an outstanding novel. It is the first of Arvin's novels that I have read and I look forward to reading The Will and any future novels.
- Amazon readers rating: from 45 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from The Last Goodbye at MostlyFiction.com
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- The Wind in the Wheat (1994)
- The Will (November 1999)
- The Last Goodbye (February 2004)
- Blood of Angels (July 2005)
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- The official website for author Reed Arvin
- HarperCollins.com interview with Reed Arvin
- BookBrowse.com biography on Reed Arvin
- BookReporter.com interview with Reed Arvin on The Last Goodbye
- BookReporter.com review of The Last Goodbye
- BookLoons review of The Last Goodbye
- Rebecca's Reviews on The Last Goodbye
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About the Author:
Reed Arvin is a successful musician and record producer turned novelist who lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and Saint Petersburg, Florida.