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The Last Confession - Justin Stanisic Small town waitress Mary Lowry is struggling just to get by when she meets a priest looking for his sister 20 years missing. Mary takes pity on him and goes looking for her and uncovers much more than she bargained for, even as her personal life disintegrates around her...

Getting a free book from an author is a mixed bag. Sometimes, it's wonderful and doesn't feel like a chore to read at all. Other times, you just want to pretend it got lost in the mail. This one falls somewhere in the middle.

The Last Confession is a noirish mystery set in a small town. Mary, the protagonist, is a fairly unique character as far as my mystery reading goes. I don't often read noir tales starting a 40-something chain-smoking waitress with a loser boyfriend and college age daughter. I liked Mary, even though her grammar grated on me after a few chapters. Too many "ain't"s for my taste. I also hated that it took her so long to kick Ziggy, her live-in boyfirend, to the curb.

The plot was suitably serpentine: Father Robert McCullen's tale was more twisted than I suspected when I read the back cover. I should have tipped to the end but I didn't put together the clues. I'd say it was a solveable mystery, though not by much. I thought the plot meandered a bit but, overall, it was pretty good.

Stanisic's writing was pretty good, especially for a first book. There were some good lines I would have read out loud if I thought if I thought my dog would appreciate them. Alas, all she appreciates are meals and being walked.

Lastly, for a self-published book, this had very tight editing and none of the weird fonts or formatting that usually bug the crap out of me when I read self-published books. The interior is a very professional-looking job. Since most self-published books aren't, I thought I'd mention that.

Three stars. It didn't make me forget about Richard Stark or Lawrence Block, but I'd be willing to give Stanisic another shot in the future.