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LAST RITES – Sharon Sala
Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 978-1-7282-5857-7
July 11, 2023
Romantic Suspense 

Jubilee, Kentucky – Present Day

First off, reading a Sharon Sala book is like a spoked wheel. There are several stories that are linked to the central plot. In LAST RITES, the center is the legend of the crying woman on Pope Mountain. Who is she, and why is she haunting the mountain?

Shirley Pope and her four adult sons left Arkansas and settled in her late mother’s home on Pope Mountain. Shirley’s now ex-husband had beat her up and then killed two people He is now sitting in prison but she and her boys plan to start a new life in Jubilee. The mountain is inhabited by several generations of Popes, and they support each other. The town of Jubilee sits below Pope Mountain, and unknown to the general population is that the Popes own the land the town sits on and collects the rent that goes to the Pope Family corporation.

Aaron Pope gets hired by the local police department. After a little boy is shot on Pope Mountain and left for dead, everyone is determined to find the mysterious shooter. A woman, Dani, comes to the police station shortly afterward and tells them about a man in a backpack with a metal detector who dropped a gun and a book. Unfortunately, he left the book behind when he fled, and Dani, who witnessed the man falling, brings the book to the police. Because this all happened in the vicinity of the shooting, they suspect it is connected.

Dani has a harrowing past of her own. Her ex-boyfriend tried to kill her, and though he is in prison, she decided to relocate to a new town. Jubilee needed a teacher and here she is. Then Dani gets a phone call from her ex’s mother. Her other son is in Jubilee, and she suspects that he is there to cause harm to Dani. After telling Aaron about it, he decides to move in with her while they wait for the man to make his move. 

The book that was found is determined to be an old diary belonging to Brenden Pope, the long-dead head of the family. In 1864, his wife, Meg, mysteriously disappeared. Legend has it that she was killed by Confederate soldiers who were on the mountain to hide gold they had in their possession. The gold—and Meg—were never found. The man who shot the little boy had apparently read the book while at his job at the Library of Congress and decided to try and find the gold. Now he is scared that he will be arrested for attempted murder. 

All the plots tie into each other as it leads to the mystery of what happened to Meg. Aaron and Dani soon fall in love as they spend more time together. She is the one who found the diary and is fearful that the mysterious man who shot the boy will come after her. Then add in that there is someone actually out there who might hurt her—her ex’s brother—she is right to feel jumpy. But Aaron will be by her side to protect her. 

Aaron’s three brothers are also part of LAST RITES but for the most part, they only play small roles in the background. There are also numerous characters with their own point of view, but it would be too many to list. The author jumps around from viewpoint to viewpoint, but it isn’t too difficult to follow. The main theme is family, love, and allowing God into your life. By the end of LAST RITES, there will be many storylines completed satisfactorily and a happily-ever-after for most.

While the suspense is low on the scare scale, readers will keep wanting to read to find out how everything is resolved. An entertaining and intriguing tale, you won’t want to miss LAST RITES.

Patti Fischer

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