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Last Post: A Novel of Suspense Hardcover – May 13, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (May 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 141655940X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416559405
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,694,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this assured suspense yarn from British veteran Barnard (A Fall from Grace), Eve McNabb receives many consolation letters after the death of her mother, May, the beloved head of a school in Crossley, Yorkshire. One missive, though, is disturbingly different from the rest. Addressed to May and signed Jean, this letter suggests there was once a physical intimacy between Jean and May and makes a veiled reference to the business with John, Eve's late father. Determined to locate the unknown sender, Eve turns to Omkar Rani, an Indian policeman who's also a philatelist, for help in deciphering the envelope's smudged postmark. Omkar and Eve manage to track down an actress, Jean Mannering, who denies writing the letter, but drops the bombshell that Eve's father emigrated to Australia for his health and could still be alive. Eve travels to Australia, but a message from Okmar that there's been a murder in Crossley brings her home. Unexpected solutions and a clever closing switch make this a satisfying read. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The latest whodunit from genre veteran Barnard is his best in many years. As this riveting story opens, Eve McNabb has returned to her childhood home in the north of England; her mother has died of cancer, and Eve needs to tend to the funeral and the estate. She is an only child, and her father left the family before Eve had any memory of him, going off to Australia, where he eventually died. Eve’s mother was a prominent educator in the town, and while Eve settles the estate, a strange letter arrives, addressed to her mother. The message contains enigmatic information suggesting a previously unknown side to Eve’s mother, prompting Eve to set off on a complicated search for more information about both her mother and her father, including whether what she was told about her father is really true. Of course, murder crosses Eve’s path along the way, as does a new love interest in the form of the police officer who’s been helping her track down the author of the mysterious letter. An involving mystery, compelling characters, and Barnard’s signature style add up to great entertainment. --Brad Hooper

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John F. Rooney VINE VOICE on June 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Robert Barnard, age 71, is one of the cleverest and best of Britain's mystery writers, and he is now out with his fortieth entry. Eve's mother has just died and the mother seems to have had secrets in her past, and is her father really dead as her mother had told her? The story involves alternative lifestyles and interracial love affairs. A frequent reader and aficionado of Barnard's work, I get the feeling that he could toss off these works in his sleep. They seem effortless and are so smoothly fashioned that they make for easy reading. They are uncomplicated, straightforward narratives.
He always has a flock of interesting characters, many of them venal, sly, misleading, and mean-spirited. He likes to delve into the "cherished hatreds" of older people. He likes oddballs and eccentrics. As he and Ruth Rendell get older, they seem to fasten more on the psychology of seniors. He loves British pubs, tea time, and through his books one gains insights into British society, politics, class and caste, and social mores. Buy a bloke a couple of pints, and you may get more than you bargained for.
A good scene: For information Eve is priming two of her dad's old friends with pints of bitter and pub grub. One of the informants skedaddles after two pints; Eve finds him cagey and slimy.
One moral that Barnard espouses in his surprise endings (real twists) is that what conventionally are thought of as human frailties, weaknesses, and flaws will come out in the end no matter what. Wit, satire, irony, and humor are never far from Barnard's mind.
This book is a series of character studies: people can lead secret lives, and sometimes too much probing can lead to unhappiness, disappointments and the incitement of murder.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on May 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In the town of Crossley in Yorkshire, England Eve McNabb has just come home from viewing her late mother May prior to the funeral. Eve knows her mom was adored by her students and their parents, which makes her grief a bit easier. Eve has a ton of condolence letters to peruse and respond to; but when she opens one from a stranger named Jean, she is stunned as she insists she and her mom had an affair. Her not so subtle implication shakes the mourning woman to her core.

Although she knew her mother was a very private person, Eve wonders why she never questioned her mom about her father John McGrath who disappeared in Australia without an apparent warning as far she knows to her late mom. Needing to know what happened when she was two, Eve interrogates everyone she assumes knew Meg and John back then including former headmistress Evelyn Southwick when her mom was a deputy working under her. Her need to know sends Eve to Australia to meet her father whom she forgives once she hears his side of the breakup. She is called back to England by the police who believe that Eve has information from her inquiries that could help them on an investigation in which Evelyn was murdered.

Renowned for his suspense thrillers filled with surprising but plausible twists, Robert Barnard uses master magician misdirection to lure the readers down the wrong path so that the connections that seem evident turn out to be not so obvious. Eve is a fully developed protagonist who grieves at the same time her image of her beloved mom has been tattered yet she needs to know the truth if she is to gain any closure. Her inquisitiveness makes this family suspense drama entertaining.

Harriet Klausner
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In Robert Barnard's "Last Post," teacher and headmistress May McNabb dies at the age of sixty-seven after succumbing to breast cancer. Until her retirement, May had been a beloved and much respected figure at the Blackfield Road Primary School in Crossley. May lived alone, but she enjoyed a cordial relationship with her grown daughter, Eve. The two women got together on weekends and they communicated regularly by telephone and mail. While going through her late mother's post (most of them brief condolence notes addressed to her), Eve picks up an envelope with no return address. A woman named Jean, who obviously has no idea that May has died, writes "We were the most wonderful pair, May; two people who had to come together because physically and mentally, we made a complete whole...." Eve is shocked to learn that her mother may have had a romantic relationship with a woman. Suddenly, Eve is not so sure that she really knew her mother. What other secrets had May been keeping from her?

Eve wonders why May revealed so little about Eve's father, John, other than telling her that he died. After thinking things over, Eve decides to spend some time learning more about May and John. She investigates her father's professional life (he was a newspaper cartoonist) and speaks to several of her late mother's colleagues to get more insight into her personality. In the course of her inquiries, Eve encounters Detective Constable Omkar Rani, a married man nine years her junior, to whom she is instantly attracted. She also discovers that May had purposely withheld vital information from her. Eve's curiosity has unintended consequences; stirring up facts and feelings from long ago leads to murder.

"Last Post" is talky and not particularly exciting or suspenseful.
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