Western North Carolina is known for its waterfalls, mountain views and strategically located inns to capture the tourist trade. Megan Miranda has set her clever new mystery, “The Last to Vanish,” at one of these inns and the adjacent town, Cutter’s Pass. The Passage, as the inn is called because it is a starting point for the Appalachian Trail, attracts not only adventurers but also professional and amateur detectives. In the previous quarter century, six visitors – a quartet of friends remembered as The Fraternity Four and two singletons – have gone missing. The latest, who gives the book its title, was an investigative journalist. The novel opens with the recording of a guest who gives a pseudonym but is quickly identified by hostel manager Abby Lovett as the reporter’s brother, ready to do some sleuthing. Abby tells the story in an unorthodox way, covering the disappearances in reverse temporal order. The structure works well because Cutter’s Pass is full of secrets – “This town [is] a safe,” Abby mused – all of which Miranda expertly brings to light. “The Last to Vanish” is a well-crafted example of the importance of timing in a thriller. (Marysue Rucci Books/Scribner, July 26)