The Seattle author’s new mystery features protagonists that seem more real than many in this genre.

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No sooner did one novel appear on The New York Times’ Bestseller List (in early August) than an advance reading copy of the next book arrived in reviewers’ mailboxes. Seattle author Jayne Ann Krentz, an incredibly prolific and successful writer who also writes under the pseudonyms of Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick, has followed up the success of August’s futuristic “Illusion Town” (under the Castle name) with the suspenseful new “When All the Girls Have Gone” (Berkley, 352 pp., $27).

Written under Krentz’s own name — which she reserves for contemporary romantic suspense — “When All the Girls Have Gone” opens with the shooting of one Gordon Greenslade, a self-righteous pillar of his community with an abundance of dirty secrets. Who killed Greenslade, and why, is only the first of a series of mysteries in a plot packed with assault, revenge, sudden disappearances and surprising alliances.

At the center of all this activity is what initially seems like an unlikely couple. Charlotte, the director of activities at a retirement village, considers herself boring, a judgment echoed by the fiancé who recently ditched her five days before the wedding. Max, a profiler and investigator who is struggling to launch his own business, is a man of few words who is dealing with many past traumas.

Author appearance

Jayne Ann Krentz

The author of “When All the Girls Have Gone” will appear as a guest bookseller at Page 2 Books in Burien from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, and will return for a book-signing event at Page 2 Books at noon Tuesday, Nov. 29. 457 S.W. 152nd St., Burien (206-248-7248 or page2books.com).

Flaws and all, these protagonists seem more real than many heroines and heroes of this genre. Readers can relate to them because Charlotte and Max are neither blindingly beautiful nor incredibly wealthy and powerful. They are resourceful and smart, but not invincible, and their apparent and refreshing believability makes the reader root for them. Seldom does a reader encounter a suspense novel in which a couple’s significant date night involves the selection of paint chips.

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The plot gets under way when Charlotte’s stepsister Jocelyn, supposedly engaged in a monthlong retreat at a convent, goes missing, and Max is called in to help find her. (As he puts it: “It’s what I do.”) As the two of them assemble clues, they discover that another woman in Jocelyn’s five-member investment club has been found dead, and another has disappeared — developments that increase the urgency of Charlotte’s and Max’s quest. Where is Jocelyn, and what has that quintet of investors been up to, besides mergers and acquisitions?

Quite a lot, as it turns out. Their extra-financial activities have put the five women in considerable danger, and some of that danger comes from within the quintet itself. There’s a lot of action, from a ride down a raging river on the roof of a sinking SUV to an encounter with crazed villains in a dark basement. And there’s the faint but unmistakable whiff of a sequel in the finale: some unfinished business that’s likely to mean good news for Krentz fans.