The Last Goodbye is a first-rate mystery. Reed Arvin writes with smooth, compact prose not weighed down with cumbersome description and narrative. His characters seem like real people; the plot is compelling and intriguing.
The story opens with an unusual case. Jack Hammond has it made working as an aspiring attorney in a top-notch law firm until he gets permission from a partner to accept a criminal case. After all, who can turn away a beautiful woman who comes to you crying, begging for help? The impact of her beauty should have warned Hammond to back off. Instead, he crosses ethical lines that cost him his position with the firm. Set up in an office with only a secretary, Hammond is reduced to earning his living handling petty criminal matters.
When Hammond learns that Doug Townsend, one of his former clients, has been found dead in his apartment, he is taken aback. The crook he once defended hadn't always been a crook, but the inspiration behind Hammond's becoming an attorney. Police believe the death of the computer whiz is nothing more than a drug overdose.
Hammond, certain that Townsend had changed his ways for the better, does not believe it. Too many odd things seem to have been overlooked by the police, so Hammond decides to investigate the cause of death. The first obvious thing he learns is that his dead friend was obsessed with the beautiful opera singer Michele Sonnier. A load of pictures of the woman found in Townsend's apartment along with airline ticket stubs suggest Townsend traveled the country to catch the Sonnier's performances.
Sonnier is married to a very powerful man. When Hammond confronts her about their mutual friend, she conveys disparate impressions. With words she flat out lies, denying that she knew Townsend. But her body language says something completely different. As he digs deeper and deeper for answers, Hammond finds that Sonnier has a lifetime of buried secrets. Like Townsend, Hammond cannot resist Sonnier's appeal—though Hammond should know better than to mix pleasure with business by now.
All roads lead to one conclusion: a major conspiracy is at hand. Somehow Townsend had been involved and was perhaps murdered because of it. Now Hammond's own life might be in jeopardy. He must expose the cover-up, perhaps risking his life to do so.