Thursday, August 05, 2010

[Book Review] THE LAST CHILD by John Hart

Darletha reviews THE LAST CHILD by John Hart (Minotaur Books, 2009)

I decided to read this book after it was awarded the Mystery Writers of America's 2010 Edgar Award for Best Novel. I wasn't familiar with Hart's novels, so reading this book gave me the chance to see why he is a two-time winner of the Edgar Award. (Hart won in 2008 for the novel Down River)

This story begins a year after the unsolved kidnapping of Johnny Merrimon's 13-year-old twin sister, Alyssa. This tragic event has torn Johnny's family apart. Johnny's father leaves home and his mother, Katherine, numbs her grief in a fog of addiction. Johnny searches for suspects on his own, which exposes him to the dark secrets of residents in his North Carolina town.

Detective Clyde Hunt was the lead investigator of Alyssa's kidnapping case. His obsession with the Merrimon case damaged his relationship with his family and tainted his reputation as an investigator. He knows Johnny and Katherine are in a bad situation and he is determined to make things right for them.

When Johnny makes a shocking discovery, he becomes more determined than ever to find Alyssa. With no faith left in authority, Johnny and his only friend venture into a dangerous world where a wanted fugitive is on the run and another young girl has disappeared. As the boys attempt to stay ahead of the police, they journey down a path that will change their lives forever.

This was an unforgettable, intense mystery. It goes beyond the typical crime-solving plot and depicts how a tragic event connects different people. For me, this story is all about Johnny. I thoroughly enjoyed following Johnny's transformation from an isolated, quiet boy into a self-empowered young man. I'm adding John Hart's novels to my very long list of books to read.

Darletha, South Branch

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