” The Last Clinic” the debut novel of  Gary Gusick is set in the American South and features Detective Darla Cavannah of the Sheriff’s office in Jackson, Mississippi with all its nuances of a small town in the Deep South.  Sheriff Shelby Mitchell involves Darla who is off work recovering from the loss of her husband in a tragic road accident in this case. Hugh the Glue Cavannah was a local hero and everyone loved this football star. Darla is from Philadelphia and is getting used to a very different life when she find herself tasked to investigate the murder of the Reverend Jimmy Aldridge who was vehemently protesting abortion.

The prime suspect for the murder is Dr. Stephen Nicoletti, the doctor of Italian origin who runs the clinic which was being picketed by the Rev. Aldridge and his supporters. The theory why Dr. Nicoletti killed the Rev Aldridge is put together and propagated by Darla’s partner in the police force, Tommy Reylander, a local boy better known in the area for being an Elvis impersonator than for being a policeman.

Darla seeks the help of the nerdy Uther Pendragon Johnson who joins her team to find out who killed the Rev. Aldridge. At the same time, moving from town to town, a killer makes his way killing select doctors who run clinics used for abortions. The killer is heading towards Jackson too. Darla finds herself attracted to the prime accused, the handsome Dr. Nicoletti,  which complicates matter adding to her tensions. Is she allowing her personal biases to cloud her judgement in solving this case?

Gusick moves the story forward at a brisk pace and you can’t wait to find out, like in any whodunit, who the killer is.  There is a fair bit of suspense and Gusick holds the plot together to take the novel to a fitting end. I found it interesting and gripping. For a debut novel, Gusick is on to a good thing. I expect we will see more of Detective Darla Cavannah in the future. I look forward to this.

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