Thriller & Suspense

Last Known Contact

By

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When Ellie Connor returns home from overseas, she finds herself in the middle of her father’s disappearance and the suspect list is long!

Synopsis

Jack Bannerman is missing, presumed dead. There's no evidence of foul play and no sign of a body. So where is Jack?

Ellie thought her father trusted her with his business empire but the discovery of a dark past challenges everything she believed. Her estranged husband was Jack's last known contact but denies seeing him that day and seizes the opportunity to take over as acting CEO as if nothing untoward has happened.

The detective in charge throws Ellie's feelings of betrayal and loss into further turmoil because a long time ago, they loved each other. Now, she has to work with him to unravel the truth behind her father's disappearance.

Jack's trusted advisors are keeping secrets and Ellie's desperate search for answers puts her in the dangerous sights of a killer.

With a body found at sea and a storm closing in, Ellie has to trust someone with what she knows.

But will trusting the wrong person be her deadliest mistake?

First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Phillipa Nefri Clark for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.


Always up for a strong police procedural, this book by Phillipa Nefri Clark offers a great Aussie flavouring, as a missing persons case brings out a whole bunch of professional and personal skeletons from a closet already full of secrets. When Ellie Connor arrives back in Melbourne from a business trip, she is met with the headline that her father has gone missing. Jack Bannerman, CEO of Bannerman Wealth Group, was last seen headed to his yacht. Since then, his family and colleagues have been trying to find out where he might have gone. Ellie panics and scours the area, finding nothing but a voicemail asking her to go to their ‘secret spot’ where Jack’s left her a letter. There is nothing there, but Ellie’s estranged husband, Dennis, seems ready to dismiss any concerns Jack’s disappearance may bring. When police detective Ben Rossi arrives on scene, Ellie cannot help but remember the connection they once shared, making things a tad more awkward than she might have hoped. At the office, Bannerman Wealth Group’s Head of Security, Paul Dekeles tries to help and console Ellie, while also appearing to inch closer to her in a less than professional manner. When a local fisherman goes missing, everyone begins to wonder if a serial murderer might be on the loose, which is further exacerbated by the fact that a body is seen floating in the harbour. If this were not enough, Ellie soon learns of a major business decision of which she was not aware, something that could change the tenor of the investigation and open new possible leads to an already complicated case. A fast-paced story that keeps the reader guessing until all the pieces fall into place. Recommended for those who love a good mystery where family ties are severed, as well as the reader who enjoys a police procedural with some dramatic flair.


While I have never read Phillipa Nefri Clark, the dust jacket blurb alone made me want to dive right in. The story begins swiftly and never loses its momentum, as much is revealed about Jack Bannerman and the web many of the core characters have spun for themselves. At the centre of it all is Ellie Conner, whose return to Australia seems to have led to a massive investigation about her father’s disappearance. The reader learns much about Ellie’s backstory, including her closeness to a brother who was once quite a role model for her. After fleeing the confines of the family bubble, Ellie returns to make her mark on one part of the Bannerman empire, though some of her rash choices have not worked out as she had hoped. Struggling with some emotions for the man in charge of locating her father, Ellie must remain professional and try to determine where her future will take her. Discovering some less than savoury things that are going on within the family, Ellie tries to process it all without falling apart. Her connection to Jack Bannerman is obvious, but there is surely a strain between them that has yet to heal. Clark utilises a few other core characters who serve various roles, if not suspects in the disappearance. They each bring a little something to the table and provide the reader with the needed backstories to make their guilt quite plausible. Working in tandem, they help create added depth to an already great narrative and keep things on the mark throughout. The story was strong and the plot development had me quite impressed. With a mix of chapter lengths, Clark keeps the reader wondering where the next twist will come and how it plays into the larger theme of the book. Part mystery, part emotional discovery, this is one book that is sure to make waves and earn Phillipa Nefri Clark a slew of new fans, myself included.


Kudos, Madam Clark, for a highly entertaining piece. I cannot wait to see what else you’ve written and see how it compares to this piece.


Reviewed by

I love to read and review all sorts of books. My passion is crime and thrillers, but there are so many other genres that pique my attention.

While I am not a full-time reader, I try to dedicate as much time to my passion as possible, as can be seen on my blog and Goodreads.

Synopsis

Jack Bannerman is missing, presumed dead. There's no evidence of foul play and no sign of a body. So where is Jack?

Ellie thought her father trusted her with his business empire but the discovery of a dark past challenges everything she believed. Her estranged husband was Jack's last known contact but denies seeing him that day and seizes the opportunity to take over as acting CEO as if nothing untoward has happened.

The detective in charge throws Ellie's feelings of betrayal and loss into further turmoil because a long time ago, they loved each other. Now, she has to work with him to unravel the truth behind her father's disappearance.

Jack's trusted advisors are keeping secrets and Ellie's desperate search for answers puts her in the dangerous sights of a killer.

With a body found at sea and a storm closing in, Ellie has to trust someone with what she knows.

But will trusting the wrong person be her deadliest mistake?

Where it ends


December


Ellie Connor burst out of rugged bushland onto a broad expanse of open ground. The gloom from the tail of the storm might protect her for a moment. That and the rain.

She skidded to a stop at the very edge of a cliff, catching a glimpse of wild waves a long way below. Doubled over, hands on her knees, she gulped salty air. Her legs shook from running but the adrenaline coursing through her had kept her moving. Adrenaline and self- preservation. She didn’t want to die. Be killed by him. Most of her blonde hair had escaped its ponytail and she pulled a strand from her dry mouth.

So thirsty.

She reached for her backpack but there wasn’t time. It wasn’t safe to stop. Below and to her right was the river mouth, just visible in the near-dark.

Safety.

“Oh, El-lie.”

Her head shot up.

“I’m here to help you.”

His voice drifted from the trees.

She ran along the side of the cliff, searching for the way down.

A narrow track opened up. Not the one she remembered walking with Gabi last visit, but it would do. 

She had to put distance between them.

The ground was mud and loose stones and Ellie’s feet slipped from under her. She cried out as she landed on her elbows and behind.

Tears sprung into her eyes and she rolled against the cliff wall to catch her breath.

Out to sea, a helicopter sped past, its blinking lights mesmerizing Ellie. If only her phone wasn’t smashed into a million pieces some‐ where back in the bush, she would turn on its flashlight. Get their attention with her vague memory of Morse code.

But it passed by and the rain stopped. The wind dropped to almost nothing and the heavy smell of eucalypts and sea spray enveloped her.

Where was he?

Ellie pushed herself to her feet, wincing as she straightened. Blood trickled down her arms and she wiped it away, then cleaned her palms on her shorts. Her legs were filthy, and blood splattered. 

This time she was careful of her footing. One step at a time, a hand on the sheer rock face to her side.

At a sharp curve there was a shallow cave. Impossible to see how far back it went, or what might lurk within.

“Are you down there, Ellie?”

Ellie almost jumped into the cave entrance. His voice was closer. Surely, he would hear the hammering of her heart?

“You don’t need to run anymore. I’ve come to help. I can get you to Gabi. You came to see her, didn’t you?”

Don’t you dare say my mother’s name!

Ellie closed her eyes, arms wrapped around her body as bile rose in her throat. She’d fallen into his well-planned trap. Alone, so far from any town. Nobody to turn to, no help.

She opened her eyes and started as a beam of light barely missed her feet.

“Getting a bit over the games, you know. All I ever wanted was to make you happy.”

He was going to kill her, then find Gabi and do the same.

Her fingers and toes were freezing even though the humidity was rising again after the storm.

“Oh, there’s a blood trail. I’ll bring you a bandage, Ellie.”

Pebbles rolled down the path ahead of heavy footsteps. The flash‐light waved from side to side.

“Ellie!” A different voice, echoing from the top of the cliff.

“I’m here. But he’s close by!” Almost sobbing in relief, she stepped onto the path.

Her hunter caught her in his spotlight. “Gotcha, baby.”

Ice clutched her stomach. Her feet wouldn’t move. There was a gun pointed at her.

Again, from the top of the path, “Run! Ellie, run for your life!”

The flashlight turned onto her face. “I wouldn’t do that, not if you ever want to see him alive again. Make a choice, Ellie.”

I need to get to Gabi.

Ellie ducked out of the light and slid her way around the sharp corner.

A shot rang out.



About the author

Phillipa lives just outside a beautiful town in country Victoria, Australia. She adores mysteries of any kind and always manages to include a puzzle in every book. With a passion for music, the ocean, nature, reading, and writing, she is often found in the vegetable garden pondering a new story. view profile

Published on July 27, 2020

90000 words

Genre: Thriller & Suspense

Reviewed by

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