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When a dog walker in a local Virginia park finds the bodies of a mother and daughter, Detective Amanda Steele is first on the scene. Her own daughter has a toy just like the girl’s elephant and seeing the child like this is her worst nightmare come true. Heartbroken, she vows to get justice.

Desperate for a lead, she goes to every place the woman could have been targeted, and learns from a concerned ER nurse about Leanne Reilly and her young daughter, Gracie, who haven’t been heard from in a week. Amanda hopes that Leanne has simply left her deadbeat husband, but she’s gripped by the fear that they are the killer’s latest victims. Now every second counts for Amanda to find the family and stop a little girl’s nightmare before it ends in tragedy.

Carolyn Arnold recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest thriller, HER FINAL BREATH.

Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?

Hard to say which came first and they all seem to play off each other. The idea is to contrast a beautiful setting—a park—with the macabre discovery of a mother and daughter buried there in a shallow grave. From there the question is how does this effect Detective Amanda Steele who is investigating the murders both professionally and personally?

Carolyn Arnold

What attracts you to this book’s genre?

I love the way a mystery pulls you in and makes you part of the investigation. The twists and turns are like the cherry on a sundae—delectable and sweet.

What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?

The victims in this book are from abusive households, and this presents the opportunity to shed light on how domestic violence truly is an epidemic. And there’s only so much we can do to help women and children in this situation—and only so much the law can do. It’s frustrating and infuriating. It’s also a painful realization that a person needs to want to help themselves. Sadly, that revelation sometimes comes too late.


CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. Her Detective Madison Knight Series has been optioned for television and is under development with Muse Entertainment and Pop Fiction Entertainment.

She has several continuing fiction series and has many published books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy mysteries, police procedurals, and thrillers to action adventures. Her crime fiction series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining. This led to her adopting the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives near London, Ontario, Canada with her husband and two beagles.

To learn more about the author, please visit her website.