The Last Child by John Hart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A year after his twin sister disappeared, thirteen year old Johnny Merrimon is still looking for her. His father has ran out on the family out of guilt and his mother is hooked on pills and shacked up with an abusive scumbag. The only other people who seem to care are Johnny's best friend Jack and a burned out cop named Clyde Hunt. Until another girl disappears...
My girlfriend recommended this. She's pretty wise.
The Last Child is a mystery about a missing girl in a small town but it's also a lot more than that. It's the story of what happens to a family who suffers senseless loss with nowhere to turn. It's the story about a cop so obsessed with a case that his life falls apart. And it's the story of what guilt does to a person over the course of a year.
The story starts simply enough. Johnny is out looking for his sister when he witnesses a man run down by a car. The man's dying words are of finding a missing girl. The story zigs and zags all over the place, taking Johnny and Detective Hunt to places most people would be reluctant to go, both physically and emotionally.
I'd never heard of John Hart before this book but I'll be picking up his back catalog after this. The prose was a notch above most detective novels and the characters were very well realized, not a paper character in sight. The relationships between the characters and their families drove the book forward, Johnny and his mother, Hunt and his son, Jack and his family. Levi Freemantle reminded me a lot of John Coffey from The Green Mile.
Hart kept me guessing right up until the end, dragging me from one false lead to the next. I had no idea who the killer was until it was spelled out for me. That's the hallmark of a great mystery. Hell, of a great book period.
Five stars. If I read a better book than this in 2013, I'll be surprised.
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