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The Last Child: A Novel Paperback – March 9, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A year after 12-year-old Alyssa Merrimon disappeared on her way home from the library in an unnamed rural North Carolina town, her twin brother, Johnny, continues to search the town, street by street, even visiting the homes of known sex offenders, in this chilling novel from Edgar-winner Hart (Down River). Det. Clyde Hunt, the lead cop on Alyssa's case, keeps a watchful eye on Johnny and his mother, who has deteriorated since Alyssa's abduction and her husband's departure soon afterward. When a second girl is snatched, Johnny is even more determined to find his sister, convinced that the perpetrator is the same person who took Alyssa. But what he unearths is more sinister than anyone imagined, sending shock waves through the community and putting Johnny's own life in danger. Despite a tendency to dip into melodrama, Hart spins an impressively layered tale of broken families and secrets that can kill. 175,000 first printing; author tour. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Most critics sang the praises of Hart's third novel, a dark and violent edge-of-your-seat mystery that still manages to poignantly examine the ties between family and friends. Hart's ability to portray his characters as living, breathing individuals -- particularly Johnny, "an amalgam of Opie Taylor and Scout Finch with a hint of Huck Finn" (Raleigh News & Observer) -- and his acute assessment of human nature result in a horrifying, heartbreaking tale that steps up the suspense to agonizing levels. The sole voice of dissent, stalwart crime-reviewer Marilyn Stasio from the New York Times Book Review, faulted the writer's unoriginal characters and lackluster prose. But majority rules. Most readers will agree that The Last Child is "one of the best thrillers of the year" (Providence Journal). --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (March 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312642369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312642365
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (655 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Hart is the author of the upcoming REDEMPTION ROAD, and of four New York Times bestsellers, THE KING OF LIES, DOWN RIVER, THE LAST CHILD and IRON HOUSE. The only author in history to win the best novel Edgar Award for consecutive novels, John has also won the Barry Award, the Southern Independent Bookseller's Award for Fiction, the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award and the North Carolina Award for Literature. His novels have been translated into thirty languages and can be found in over seventy countries. A former defense attorney and stockbroker, John spends his time in North Carolina and Virginia, where he writes full-time.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

374 of 385 people found the following review helpful By mellion108 VINE VOICE on April 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I dare you to read the prologue of this book without getting totally pulled in to the story. My heart was pounding by page 2, and I think my boss might want to have a talk with Mr. Hart because I went in to work a couple of mornings on very little sleep because I couldn't put this book down until I got to the last word.

Johnny Merrimon was once a happy child. He and his twin sister, Alyssa, lived with their beautiful, vibrant mother and strong, caring father. Then Alyssa goes missing. She's seen being pulled into a mysterious van, and a year later, Johnny's life is completely different. His mother is bullied into passivity by a rich, abusive man who keeps her strung out on drugs and treats her like a possession. Johnny knows in his heart that he can find his sister, bring his father home, and save his mother, and for months he plays a dangerous game of spying on local child predators, convinced that at least one of them knows what happened to his sister. Detective Hunt is the haunted cop who cannot break out of his obsession with Alyssa's case - and the beautiful mother - to save his own family from falling apart. Jack is the wounded best friend who idolizes Johnny and tries to mask his own pain with the alcohol he steals from his cop father.

Hart could have taken the easy way out and turned this into a suspenseful but heartwarming story of mystery and redemption. Instead, he creates complex, rich characters and places them in terrifying, soul searching situations. Johnny is a child living with nightmares, and he reaches into ancient mysticism, searching for strength and clues to help him heal his family. He's seen too much of the harsh reality of life for someone his age, and this dark desperation colors all the events in this book.
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133 of 140 people found the following review helpful By 1075sticks VINE VOICE on April 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
John Hart's "The Last Child" is a gripping story of Johnny Merrimon, a thirteen-year old who lost his twin sister to an abduction. The year before, his best friend, Jack Cross, saw Johnny's sister Alyssa taken into van. When the tragedy happened, what used to be the happy Merrimon family started to crumble. His mother Katherine blamed her husband for not picking their daughter up. The accusation drove Spencer Merrimon away. Katherine spirals into a world of drugs and dependency on an old manipulative boyfriend.

Johnny has lost everything he grew up with. But he wouldn't give up looking for his sister. Hoping against hope, Johnny relentlessly pores over the county's terrain, keeping tabs on sex offenders and acting on any lead he finds in order to solve the mystery of his sister's disappearance.

But he is not alone. The detective assigned to the case has spent the entire year trying to figure out what happened, too. Detective Clyde Hunt couldn't let this case go and when another abduction takes place, he is determined not to let it go unsolved. Tiffany Shore was another local girl and a classmate of Johnny.

Johnny and Detective Hunt run parallel tracks as they try to uncover who the town's possible serial kidnapper is. A strange series of events will keep the reader guessing on who the real perpetrator is and when the truth finally unfolds, the ugly side of Raven County surfaces.

I'm very impressed at the crisp writing and the constant movement. It's poignant, thoughtful, and Mr. Hart has a talent for getting into the mind of his characters and taking his readers with him. It is quite amazing how everything falls into place.

In the end, "The Last Child" is a story of how much a parent loves a child, of how much friendship means, and of how everything seems to happen for a reason.
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89 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Mad Ethyl Flint VINE VOICE on April 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I admit I was hesitant about this book, however the author's writing and story telling abilities grabbed me from the first page and kept me reading until the end.

A year ago, Johnny's sister was abducted changing his life completely. His mother has a total breakdown and her constant accusations drive Johnny's father away. He just left one day and didn't come back. His mother turns to drinking and drugs by way of her affluent boyfriend who 'lets' them stay in one of his run down rental houses, however he resents Johnny and is abusive, both mentally and physically to both of them.

Johnny tries to take care of him mother and somehow manages to attend school and get good grades despite staying up and out all night scouring neighborhoods for clues to where his sister may be.
He is sometimes joined by his best, and only friend Jack, son of a gruff policeman.

In the meantime, Detective Hunt has never given up on the case. He's become obsessive to the point of loosing his wife and alienating his son. Knowing Johnny's living situation, Detective Hunt tries to keep an eye out for Johnny. He knows what Johnny is up to and tries his best to keep him safe even though Johnny would prefer he stay out of it.

One day after ditching school, Johnny and Jack are hanging out at the river when they witness a murder. That's when things start to get interesting.

I have to admit I was clueless until the end of the book. I sort of figured it out toward the end, but still, it was a good ending.

I wouldn't recommend this book for a hard-core detective story, but for those just looking for a good story and a book that will keep you interested until the end, I would tell you to read this book.
Thank you.
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