One Final Breath (Dive Team Investigations Book 3)

Lynn H. Blackburn

Revell Pub.

Sept 3rd, 2019

One Final Breath by Lynn H. Blackburn is the last in the Carrington County, North Carolina Sheriff’s Department Dive Team series. Fans of these books will enjoy this action-packed, suspenseful, romantic read, but will also feel a bit melancholy since these characters will be put out to sea as this nail-biting series ends.

The plot begins with a gunshot.  A teenager has been discovered murdered as he and his friend are swimming near a dock across the cove. The team, who was having a picnic nearby, jumps into action, grabs a boat, and rescues the body as well as another teenager in the lake. Blackburn excels at putting the reader into the investigation as they feel the depths of the water.

The heroine, Anissa Bell, captain of the dive team investigators, has had a problem with Gabe Chavez since before he was on her team. He worked undercover and would only dive once or twice a year, not enough in her opinion to stay up to speed with the rest of the team. Now they must figure out how to put their issues with each other aside and work to solve this case. Yet, because of the comradery of the whole team they have become friends and start to realize that there is an attraction between them. Both of them realize that they are fascinated and frustrated with each other. 

As the investigation takes hold, dive team captain Anissa Bell discovers a link to her past and suddenly her life is in extreme danger as she becomes the killer’s next target. She wonders if it has anything to do with a cold case that directly involved her. Anissa grew up with missionary parents and planned on joining them, after finishing college, on the Micronesian island of Yap. But she remained stateside, determined to solve the crime that haunts her, the murder of her best friend and the disappearance of a three-year-old child. While working both cases Anissa and Gabe must find the killer before more bodies pile up, while attempting to keep each other safe.

Unlike many authors, Blackburn allows the reader to enjoy all her characters. Throughout the series she inserts them into each other’s featured book. Readers enjoy their comradery whether they are working together, or just enjoying each other’s friendship that has become family-like. Previous characters are revisited from the series, but reading the earlier books isn’t necessary to enjoy this one.

This story will take readers’ breath away as they hold it wondering how the suspenseful story will end. People who enjoy a good mystery sprinkled with romance should read this series.

Elise Cooper: This year you lived in the Hurricane area?

Lynn H. Blackburn:  It was not that bad for us, not like in the Bahamas. But the storm that came last year in Florida is something I had never seen before.  It had to be a really big storm, a category 5. The storm actually sucked all the water out of Tampa Bay.  This was a phenomenon that literally pulled out all the water.  It sucked the bay mostly dry. People were actually walking around where there used to be water. It was really freaky looking. As the storm passed it released all that energy and created floods.

EC:  Being a mystery writer did you think about a story?

LB:  I did think that it would be interesting if someone threw something into the bay thinking it would never be recovered. Then the hurricane comes and after pulling the water away it becomes discovered.

EC:  Why the environmental angle with this story?

LB:  Having a degree in Chemical Engineering, my first job was as an environmental engineer with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.  Part of my job was dealing with water treatment. I thought of the potential threat to the water supply. Because the lake and divers are always in my story, I decided to do something along this line. Since I still have friends working there I brainstormed with them for ideas.

EC:  There is also the part of the story where a child is kidnapped and sold to a parent?

LB:  Sometimes as writers we do terrible things to our characters.  I wanted something to happen to the heroine that would keep her in the states instead of going with her parents on a mission to Yap. I understand it is a fragile thing, to want a child and not be able to have one.  There is also the fact that adoption is so expensive. All of a sudden someone comes up with this opportunity to have this person able to sell a child.  I had thought if I wanted the adoptive mother to know or be in the dark regarding the kidnapping.  This was a case of, ‘if it is too good to be true it probably isn’t.’ But having that level of emotion is easy to overlook because we want it so badly to come true.

EC:  How did you find the disease Cryptosporidium?

LB:  There was a couple of cases in the 1980s where there was a run-off with a lot of fecal material that contaminated the water supply.  It is a horrible disease where people can actually die. For most people, it is a bad stomach virus, but for some it can affect those that are immunocompromised.  The young, the very old, anyone who is currently on chemotherapy, is HIV-positive, or has had an organ transplant are at risk. 

EC: The characters in your series do not drift off into the sunset after their featured book?

LB:  I have a lot of readers comment on how they like seeing the friendship grow between the six characters.  It was not something I set up intentionally with this series, but it is something I will do with the next series.  It was a lot of fun not having to say good-bye to all the characters.  What I do differently is that for the featured characters I get in their head.  Each character has their voice, but in their book, I flush them out to give them a unique voice, something that is sometimes a challenge.

EC:  How would you describe Gabe?

LB:  Fun, charismatic, the life of the party, and does not think he wants to be serious in a relationship. Gabe is a tease. He was the class clown, but Anissa sees his deeper side where he is loyal and compassionate.  Some of the humor and sarcasm is a defense mechanism on his part. His relationship with Leigh is like the little pestering brother.  No one can stay mad at him for long.

EC:  How would you describe Anissa?

LB:  Serious, confident, and loyal. She comes across as more rigid that the others. Justice is important to her.  She has a cold case, which is the hallmark of her existence, and is something she cannot let go.  Anyone wronged or mistreated will have her help.  I think she is a pragmatic leader who is kind, smart, and intense. She does have survivor’s guilt because of the cold case.

EC: Where did you come up with some of the personality traits of the characters?

First, Getting up on the wrong side of the bed?

LB:  My sister and I used to share a Jack and Jill bathroom. I never spoke to her after both of us just got up.  If I started to have a conversation too early it was not going to go well.  She was the type like Anissa, ‘leave me alone until I have three cups of coffee.’  When she approached me, then it was safe.

EC:  Do you dive?

LB:  I was certified last year in the lake I used for a prototype of the fictional Lake Porter in my stories. Most lakes are murky and can be a little claustrophobic with a visibility of 10 to 15 feet. Last summer I got to dive in the Florida Keys.  It had such clear water and visibility of about 50 feet. We were able to look up and see the bottom of the boat and all the fellow divers.  It is just amazing.  Diving in the Keys helped me to understand why people dive.  But diving in the lake helped me to understand what my character divers would go through.  Diving in the lake requires more of a reliance on touch.

EC:  Do you eat cupcakes like Anissa where you tear off the bottom and make a cupcake sandwich?

LB:  No, but I did try it for research.  I actually do not like icing.  If someone gives me a cupcake with a ton of icing I scrape 75% off.

EC:  Did you write the Spanish phrases?

LB:  I took a course in college.  I also went on a mission trip where I learned to read and write it.  But that was many years ago.  For Gabe’s Spanish phrases, I had my friend who is Puerto Rican help me out.  I told her what I wanted to say and she helped me with the syntax.

EC:  How do you name characters?

LB:  I usually give my bad guys with names that begin with K, D, or X, because they have a lot harsher sounds.  I try to make sure I do not use the same sounds or names. Because my divers already had their names I would avoid ones that start with R or A. I don’t want it to be confusing and have readers get mixed up.  The only time I did have my characters start with the same letter is when I did it intentionally, such as when I had all of Adam’s family all start with the letter A.

EC:  Next book?

LB:  This series was released between 7 and 10 months apart.  The absolute minimum I need is 9 months.  With the new series, I told my publisher there is too much change in my life so I need a longer deadline.  I am truly thankful for it.  The new series will come out in February 2021 and the focus is on the US Secret Service.  The setting is not in Washington DC, but in a local resident office in North Carolina.  If I get into the groove, I may try to write a novella tying in the two series.