Her Last Whisper

Her Last Whisper

by Karen Robards

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Readers who relish heated passion and chilling suspense love New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards’s acclaimed novels featuring Dr. Charlotte “Charlie” Stone. A heroine with a keen mind for catching killers and a soft heart for bad boys, Charlie is back in this third sizzling paranormal romance thriller.
Madness and murder invaded Dr. Charlotte Stone’s life when she was just a girl—and made her a woman determined to save others from the horror she survived. An expert in the psychology of serial killers, she’s faced down more than her share of human monsters. But Charlie can also communicate with the spirits of those who die violently, an extrasensory skill that has helped the FBI bring lethal predators to justice. Now, after narrowly escaping death a second time, Charlie’s ready to step away from the edge . . . before her luck runs out.
Too bad Charlie is too dedicated for her own good—and too devoted to federal agent Tony Bartoli to say no when he asks her to ride shotgun on yet another risky mission. Of course, she already has her hands full with Michael Garland: the handsome, roguish ghost with whom she’s hopelessly in love—a spirit who depends on Charlie to keep him from slipping forever into the dark side of the afterlife. But in the mortal world, beautiful single women are vanishing from Las Vegas hotels at night. All signs indicate that a psychopath is on the prowl in Sin City, and Bartoli’s FBI colleague Lena Kaminsky has reason to fear that her missing sister may be just the killer’s type.
In a town full of fast players and few rules, flushing out a smooth-talking stalker like the Cinderella Killer might be a loser’s game. But for Charlie, the only way to cage her quarry is to plunge back into the homicidal hell she vowed to leave behind—and may not leave alive.

Praise for Her Last Whisper
“A tightly written ghostly romantic suspense novel with intriguing supernatural elements and sizzling sexual tension.”Kirkus Reviews
“An absolute winner . . . explodes with both passion and mystery . . . a tale that will haunt you, providing both thrills and chills.”—Bookreporter
“Outstanding . . . Robards is truly a master storyteller.”RT Book Reviews

Praise for Karen Robards
“One of the most popular voices in women’s fiction.”—Newsweek
“Draw a line between two extremely popular genres, mysteries and romance novels, and in the middle you will find the bestselling Robards. She merges the two worlds like no one else, deftly interlacing plot and passion.”—Albany Times Union

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804178273
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/30/2015
Series: Dr. Charlotte Stone Series , #3
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 90,221
Product dimensions: 6.80(w) x 4.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Karen Robards is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of forty-six books and one novella. The mother of three boys, she lives in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Whoever said that only the good die young had obviously never met Michael Garland.

He was thirty-­six years old, sexy as hell, a total badass—­and dead as a doornail. Right at that moment, he was also in the process of driving Dr. Charlotte “Charlie” Stone totally around the bend.

“We could be on a beach right now,” he groused, referring to the fact that she had elected to return to work rather than take the extended vacation that had been recommended after her most recent death-­defying experience. His tone was light. His eyes on her were dark and watchful. He was worried about her, she knew. To tell the truth, she was worried about herself. “Sand. Sun. You in a bikini. Come on, Doc, confess: you’ve got something against fun.”

He only ever called her Doc anymore when he was seriously ticked off at her. Short version: he felt she needed to take some vacation time while she disagreed. At thirty-­two years old, Charlie had been in charge of herself since her early teens. She did not need a man—­ghost, whatever—­constantly second-­guessing her decisions.

Her brows snapped together.

“Go away,” she mouthed at him soundlessly, after a quick glance assured her that her living companion’s attention was occupied elsewhere.

Michael snorted. “Not in this life, buttercup.” One corner of his mouth quirked up slightly. “Or in this death, either.”

Oh, ha, ha. But she didn’t—­couldn’t—­say it aloud. If they’d been alone, Charlie would have done more than shoot him an exasperated look. She would have told him to take his fun and stick it up a bodily orifice. Fun was not what life was all about. Life was serious. Purposeful. Sometimes painful. And—­well, definitely not fun.

But they weren’t alone. In fact, they were even less alone than he thought they were.

“I won’t tell.” The agonized whisper made Charlie’s heart thump. Her fingers tightened around the pen she was holding. The (living) convicted serial killer chained to a seat on the other side of the poured concrete table from her never changed his expression. Neither did the dead convicted serial killer—­that would be Michael, looking as alive as she did herself, in a snug white tee, faded jeans, and boots—­who leaned broad shoulders against the beige-­painted cinder-­block wall to her left as he played self-­appointed spectral bodyguard. Which was a complete waste of time, as she had told him when he’d insisted on following her into the interview room rather than waiting outside in the hall as she would have preferred so that she could concentrate fully on her research subject. Number one, there was no need: in this heavily guarded maximum security prison, of all places, she was perfectly safe. And number two, if something were to go wrong, if she were to find herself in danger, there was nothing he could do about it anyway. He was ectoplasm; ether; air. He couldn’t so much as swat a fly, because in this earthly plane he no longer existed. In the past, he had occasionally managed to manifest physically for the briefest of moments, but because in typical-­for-­him aggressive fashion he had pushed the boundaries of that until he had gone a heavenly bridge too far, he had, apparently permanently, rendered himself as insubstantial as a breath. And even if he could once again manage to manifest physically, he still couldn’t: he’d been warned that if he did, if he once again took on a corporeal aspect, the bond holding him here might very well snap like a rubber band and he would be sucked up into Spookville, as he called the purple twilighty, monster-filled place that was his immediate afterlife destination, possibly never to return.

Therefore, as Charlie had pointed out to him earlier, as a bodyguard Michael was useless.

And even if he wasn’t useless, even if he could manifest, there was still nothing he could do to protect her from what was currently disturbing her: the voices.

The voices were all in her head.

Sort of.

At least, she seemed to be the only one who could hear them. Her gift, or curse, depending on how you looked at it, was that she could see/hear/communicate with the spirits of the newly, violently dead (which was how she had found herself saddled with Michael, a former subject of her research who’d been stabbed to death shortly after leaving this very room about six weeks back). But Charlie could only hear this woman. Whom she couldn’t be completely sure was real. Or dead.

“When’s the last time you even took a vacation?” Folding his arms over his chest, Michael narrowed sky blue eyes at her. At six-­foot-­three, with tawny blond hair that didn’t quite reach his shoulders and a face and body that would make any female between the ages of twelve and ninety drool, he was one of the best-­looking men she had ever seen. Too bad he was a total pain in the ass. Not to mention dead. Among other problematic things. He continued, “A real vacation, that didn’t involve work, where you just went somewhere sunny and hung out in your bathing suit and relaxed. I’m betting it’s been years. Hell, I’m betting you don’t even own a bikini. Am I right?”

She shot him a look that should have singed his eyeballs. And not just because the only swimsuit she possessed was a five-­year-­old black one piece.

“I’m right,” he concluded with grim satisfaction.

“Where’s my candy?” whined the live serial killer she could actually answer without seeming nuts. Her attention instantly redirected toward her job, Charlie pulled from the pocket of her white lab coat the Hershey bar that she had elected to use as a reward (bribe) for this particular subject for responding to her questions, one of which he had answered just before Michael had distracted her. Opening the wrapper, she broke off a section and slid it across the table, then watched her test subject scoop it up and eat it with a great deal of lip-­smacking satisfaction. The shackles joining his wrists clanked as he moved. He also had manacles around his ankles securing him to the floor, and a chain around his waist that was fastened to a sturdy metal ring in the wall behind him. It prevented him from rising, or getting close enough to actually put his hands on her.

She might be the goat to his deceptively harmless-­looking tiger, but in this controlled environment he was the tethered one.

“You didn’t give me chocolate,” Michael objected. “Hell, I didn’t know chocolate was even an option.”

Charlie ignored that. She was administering a simplified version of the Myers-­Briggs personality test to the hulking, balding fifty-­two-­year-­old convict in front of her. They were alone except for Michael (since he was invisible to everyone except her, she wasn’t sure he even counted) and the guard, Johnson, who periodically checked on them through the small glass window in the metal door. Outside the walls of Wallens Ridge State Prison, where they were currently seated in the tiny, windowless room next to her office, her test subject was known as the Snake River Killer. His given name was Walter Spivey, and he was a hairdresser by trade. He was also notorious as the murderer of fourteen young women whose flesh he had liked, post-­mortem, to gnaw from their bones, and he had been on various death rows for the past twelve years. Two months earlier, he had been moved to Wallens Ridge for the express purpose of participating in her government-­sponsored study. An apparent anomaly among serial killers, who tended to have higher than average IQs, Spivey was of special interest to her because his IQ of rec­ord was 82. Her meetings with him had convinced her that this was an error, or possibly an attempt by some psychiatrist in the pay of Spivey’s defense lawyers to circumvent a death sentence, because in many jurisdictions a low IQ was considered a mitigating factor. Whatever, it had been satisfying for her to determine that a serial killer who had at first seemed like the exception to the rule probably was not, after all. He was crazy like a fox—­in other words, cunning and manipulative.

A psychiatrist with her own dark personal history with serial killers, Charlie had thought she was immune to the bad vibes that the worst of them emanated.

She’d been wrong. With his pale, sweaty skin and loose, damp mouth, Spivey creeped her out. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that she was a slender, pretty brunette like the majority of his victims, whose pictures she had seen in his file, but she didn’t really think so. Before—­meaning before nearly dying had totally messed her up—­being shut up like this with him wouldn’t have bothered her at all. She would have regarded Walter Spivey with the clinical detachment of a medical student toward a cadaver.

Now she found that being near him made her skin crawl. The only possible solution? Ignore it. Power through. And hope it went away.

“Again, please just answer yes or no,” she said to Spivey. From her calm voice, of which under the circumstances she was justly proud, to the up-­twist in which she wore her shoulder-­length chestnut hair, to her understated jewelry and the simple blue shirt and black pants beneath her lab coat, Charlie was to all outward appearances unflappably professional. If anxiety had caused her to chew her lipstick off when the voices had started up again just before she’d sat down with Spivey, and if there were shadows resulting from a certain amount of sleeplessness beneath her blue eyes, well, hopefully nobody would notice. “You usually place yourself nearer to the side than the center of a room.”

Michael snorted. “You think he’s going to answer honestly? Take it from me, by the time you get to death row you’ve pretty much figured out that I as in introvert is bad, E as in extrovert is good. So he’s going to say no, because everyone knows that preferring the center makes him more of an extrovert, and thus closer to an E than an I. Nobody wants to fry, babe. Everybody you’re talking to in here is working every angle they can to avoid it.”

Charlie didn’t know why she was surprised to discover how much Michael knew about the MBTI personality test. He was highly intelligent. Manipulating the test was something that he was absolutely capable of doing. If he knew that introversion was a mild indicator of a sociopathic personality, then she was pretty confident that he also knew that INTJ—Introversion, intuition, thinking, judgment—­was the Myers-­Briggs personality type most common among serial killers. She spared a minute to try to remember what Michael’s type was—­she hadn’t gotten around to testing him herself before he was killed, although she knew he’d been tested before—­and couldn’t; when she got back to her office, she would pull his file and check.

“No,” Spivey responded with a sunny smile, and as Charlie recorded his answer, he looked pointedly at the Hershey bar. “Can I have my candy?”

“Told ya.” Michael’s tone was smug as Charlie broke off another section of candy bar and slid it over. The tips of Spivey’s fingers just brushed hers. They felt soft and damp. The contact made her stomach tighten, and she quickly pulled her hand back. Michael continued, “And just so you can quit racking your brain, I scored ESFP. And that was without being bribed by chocolate.”

The curious thing was, ESFP—­extraversion, sensing, feeling, perception—­was the exact opposite of INTJ. Absolutely not the mark of a serial killer. As far from it as a subject could possibly get, in fact. Charlie’s lips twisted. No way had that been an accident. Michael had, no doubt, manipulated the test. As she reached that conclusion, she shot him a condemning look. He grinned, a slow and devilishly charming grin that admitted everything.

And just as easy as that he had her going all marshmallowy inside.

Damn it. She refocused on her test subject with grim determination.

“Please don’t do this to me.” The disembodied whisper came out of nowhere, snapping her right back into the Amityville Horror that her life was devolving into like a quick plunge into ice water. The terror in the voice sent chills down Charlie’s spine. Her instant, instinctive reaction was to glance at Michael, furtively searching his face to see if he’d heard it, too. If the woman she was hearing was present in spirit, even if the timing and circumstances of her death put her beyond the parameters of Charlie’s ability to see her, Michael should be able to see her, because as a spirit himself he could see other spirits in his vicinity, just like she was able to see any living, breathing human who might, for example, walk into the room.

But Michael clearly wasn’t seeing whoever was connected to the voice. He wasn’t hearing her, either.

Okay, deep breath. This was different. This was outside Charlie’s experience. This was a whole new facet of the freak show that was her existence. It had been happening to her only since she had died and been brought back.

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Her Last Whisper: A Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
burns_erin More than 1 year ago
I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. This is book three in the series and absolutely is NOT a standalone. While I'll grant you a story about a criminal psychiatrist who can see the ghosts of the violently departed and is involved in a love triangle with a living FBI agent and a dead serial killer sounds like an altogether insane and confusing plotline, reading this book without reading the others is only going to make things worse. Moreover, my review isn't going to make any sense if you don't know the characters either. Reviews for previous books in the series: The Last Victim The Last Kiss Goodbye So to start with, this is definitely not the end of a trilogy. Imagine me banging my head against the wall, repeatedly. I don't know where I got it into my head that this would be a trilogy, but I honestly thought it was, and the ending of book 2 for some reason reinforced that impression. It's not, so now I've got to be all irritated waiting around for the next book. I'm truly hoping that one has some sort of resolution, because as understanding as I was about this being a multiple book thing after the first one, because this kind of crazy sauce definitely needed a little more room to work, the bloom is definitely off the rose so far as I'm concerned, and I'm looking for some payoff. Charlie's back at work in the prison with a truly irritated ghost who thinks she should be on a vacation after her last case. That last case had the unfortunate side effect of opening her senses even further to ghosts, which is where her issues in this book pick up. She also has serious trouble saying no to the FBI, no matter how much she exclaims about how all she wants to do is finish her research. I'd doubt her resolve, but this particular case involves Lena's sister, so I can understand why she feels she needs to help. Which I guesses is my next point; I've become much more interested in Lena and Buzz's story than I am Charlie and Michael, despite the former pair's relatively short page time. When you are just waiting for the resolution of the main characters and find yourself less and less interested in their story, that's a problem. Granted, we find out a whole lot more about Michael, and the story definitely flirts with exploring the nature of guilt and innocence and what does it take to be dammed. Philosophically, it starts to explore if we are condemned not just for what we've done, but our own perspective of and feelings about our actions. But, it doesn't delve long or deeply into those themes. And I want a happily ever after for Michael in the worst way. What's happened to him and what may happen keeps me invested to a point. This is definitely the point where the next book better dammed well give me a happily ever after or I'm going to have less than pleased feelings about the series as a whole. It's felt like we've been building towards something, but without any payoff, this pleasant feelings may evaporate to nothing. In the end, this is still my kind of crazy sauce story. As I was reading it, I was kept entertained by the mystery and the characters. I honestly didn't see the perpetrator coming, but that could be mostly because I was blinded by the crazy that is Spookville and the relationship between Charlie and Michael. But the ending just feels like being jerked around, so in retrospect, it colors my feelings tremendously. I waiver between enjoying this insanity and being absolutely irritated by the whole thing. Book 4 is either going to see me thrilled with a truly bizarre series, or pissed I've wasted this many hours of my life on something.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Her Last Whisper was fabulous please tell me Michael is coming back my heart broke along with Charlies when he went away. I need more!! Great book.
My_Peace More than 1 year ago
In Her Last Whisper (Dr. Charlotte Stone #3) by Karen Robards, Dr. Charlotte Stone "Charlie" is a psychologist who studies serial killers. That's not all she does though...she also sees dead people. Not just any dead person, but the ghosts of people who have died a violent death. There is one particular ghost who has attached himself to Charlie. Michael was on death row when he was killed in prison. Now he's a ghost who can't leave Charlie alone, and who Charlie does not necessarily want to see disappear into "Spookville". They have somehow built a relationship, and Charlie is doing what she can to help Michael stay earth bound...despite the risks and danger. Charlie has her own history with serial killers, and has worked with the FBI on serial killer cases. Despite the toll it is taking on her physically and emotionally, Charlie can't say no when she's approached again to help. This time there might be a serial killer in Las Vegas. Last time Charlie helped she almost died...now besides the ghosts she can hear voices no one else, not even Michael can. Now she heads to Vegas, Michael right beside her, with the FBI to try to solve another case. As she gets deeper into the case, the danger also increases...not only from a serial killer, but from the possibility of losing Michael forever. I really enjoyed this third Dr. Charlotte Stone book! I would recommend reading the first two before this one so that you have a clear idea of the plot line.  I fell for Michael from the start, hoping against hope he could somehow find his way to stay earth bound in this paranormal thrilling series. I love that with each book the mystery of Michael continues, but at the same time, little pieces are revealed that give an even clearer picture of his character. There are still many unanswered questions I hope will eventually be answered. Charlie is dedicated, independent, and her feelings for Michael are very much real and earthly. The feelings she has are relate-able, putting aside the paranormal aspect. I love the relationship between Charlie and Michael...at times entertaining, romantic, and suspenseful. Karen writes well, and really gives a strong sense of connection between the characters. There is also a living man, Tony, who is vying for Charlie's attention, and he has no idea about Michael. Her Last Whisper is creepy at times, and Karen manages to make the hairs on my arms stand up! It is a fast paced, well written book that held my interest throughout. Karen manages to expertly weave the serial killer mystery and the relationship between Charlie and Michael together, and kept me on the edge of my seat. With lots of twists and unexpected turns, I liked how Karen ended Her Last Whisper. I was satisfied, but there are new questions and enough unresolved issues that I am really looking forward to Charlie's next book. I'd recommend Her Last Whisper to any paranormal romantic suspense lover. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read all 3 Charlotte Stone books and couldn't put them down.  Just finished  Her Last Whisper and hope there is going to be another to let us know what happens next.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very compelling
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another good book. LOVED this book too. Glad I bought the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lame writing This series never lived up to its potential The heroine was a twit Final resolution was rediculous Very disappointing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved all the books in this series, do we have any clue as to the next book? I hate when authors and publishers take forever to release info...
jd-harmony More than 1 year ago
Poorly written, had hard time getting through first chapter, so went to ending. very confusing and stupid ending. Not her usual engaging story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LEXILB More than 1 year ago
I'm thankful for the real reviews here. I have read the first two in the series and I read the free sample here. Although I do want to continue reading, knowing this is not an end to a trilogy but there will be a fourth book, I won't purchase the Nook Book for $12.99. That's what I pay for hardcovers, not Nook books. I would probably pay it if I knew it was the final book of the series, but now that I know it isn't  I'll wait and get this one from the library.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Until the end! Who is this new man?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a great book! Love Charlie and Michael, I also love FBI Agent Tony.
SadieHunt More than 1 year ago
Disclaimer: Robards is one of my all-time, long-time favorite romance authors. I’ve read, and re-read and re-read, just about everything she’s written. I’m generally not a fan of paranormal in my romances, but if I’m going to like one, it’s going to be one by Karen Robards. I was a huge fan of the first two books in this series, and I saved Her Last Whisper – keeping it in my queue, savoring the anticipation. Finally, I couldn’t take it any more. At the first sign of a sniffle I called in sick to work and hunkered down on the couch with nothing to do but read and enjoy. And enjoy I did! The ghost/human romance is totally not my thing – maybe because I just can’t imagine how it will end well – but Charlie and Michael? Hot damn! Their sexual and emotional connection just jumps off the page. Maybe I’m a sucker for bad boys. Maybe I just love a good thriller. I couldn’t put the book down – even though by the end my dogs were starving and I seriously had to pee. Only one thing marred the experience for me – that I have to wait for a fourth book to see how it ends! NOOOO! Verdict: Action-packed suspense on multiple levels keeps the story hurtling forward full-throttle. 4/5 (only because I don’t know how I’m going to stand the wait for the next one!)
dutcheja More than 1 year ago
I loved it.!!!!! This is another Charlotte "Charlie" Stone story and it is fantastic. If you have read the previous books you will know that Charlie is a Psychologist studying serial killers. She has worked with Tony who is an FBI Agent to help solve some pretty heinous crimes. She also has a ghost "Michael". I love the characters in this book and the story is fabulous. It's intense and thrilling and a real page turner. I didn't want to put it down and I definitely didn't want the book to end.
ilgirl More than 1 year ago
I have read and enjoyed many (most) of Karen Robards' books, but these about Charlie Stone and the Ghost, Michael,, have left me cold!!  The thought of a human having passionate sex with a ghost actually leaves me a little sick to my stomach.  I read the first two of this series,but did not and will not read Her Last Whisper.  Please, Karen, let's quit with the paranormal stuff - and lets get back to your really good books!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once again the story of Charlie and Michael held me in its grasp right till the VERY END! And Ms. Robards has certainly left us in the lurch and wanting more! You are a cruel woman indeed Karen Robards!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very exciting but makes me feel thshould be moreere
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved Karen books, the Last victim and the Last Kiss Goodbye. I really loved Michael the ghost. I thought it was very well written. I can't wait to read The Last Whisper. I hope there will be more books in the Charlotte Stone Series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago