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The Last Child by John Hart
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The Last Child (edition 2010)

by John Hart

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1,3851655,497 (4.09)141
Member:joannemonck
Title:The Last Child
Authors:John Hart
Info:Minotaur Books (2010), Edition: 1 Reprint, Paperback, 432 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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The Last Child by John Hart

  1. 10
    Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (jlparent)
    jlparent: Both are rather dark and disturbing in tone and plotlines. Also try Flynn's "Dark Places" in a similar vein.
  2. 00
    Blacklands by Belinda Bauer (terran)
    terran: A young boy searches for the body of a relative and is involved in finding the killer.
  3. 00
    Judas Child by Carol O'Connell (VictoriaPL)
  4. 02
    The Client by John Grisham (VictoriaPL)
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Showing 1-5 of 163 (next | show all)
This novel is a wild compelling ride and you will want to read it fast. I worried about 12 year old Johnny, his only friend Jack, Johnny’s mom and the police detective who cares deeply about solving a year old disappearance of Johnny’s twin sister. The detective, Clyde Hunt, loses his wife and his relationship with his teenage son is also ruined in part because Hunt can not give up on finding out what happened to Johnny’s sister. The story starts out dark and keeps getting more harsh as additional crimes occur. Johnny and Jack are wild young boys who have a Huck Finn quality to their adventures out in the country, and Johnny is obsessed with finding his sister, which puts him in severe danger. There is a hint of a love story developing, but this is a book with a focus on nasty crimes. I recommend it. ( )
  hangen | Jun 10, 2014 |
Back in 1999 the United States Department of Justice completed an extensive and comprehensive study into missing children. Within that time frame, approximately 800,000 children under 18 were reported missing. Seemingly more often than not, the child is abducted by a family member whereas a smaller number of kidnappings are perpetrated by non-family members or someone the child doesn't know. I’m not sure what’s more terrifying, someone that the child trusts taking advantage of that relationship or a completely random act.

It’s during the first three hours that a child’s recovery is the most important, anytime after that, you’re putting them at serious risk. In 2006, a study found that over 75% of all children abducted are killed within those first few hours so when John Hart sat down to write “The Last Child”, picking up a year after Alyssa Merriman’s disappearance, he had some serious work in store for his characters.

I hadn't heard of John Hart nor seen the praise heaped upon this book before it was recommended to me by a friend; without him I doubt I ever would've picked this up. Ah, the wonders of human recommendations – take that computer algorithms! Hart takes us to rural North Carolina a year after the disappearance of Alyssa Merriman. While many have given up hope for her safe return, her twin brother, 13 year old Johnny Merriman, has remained determined to find her.

Alyssa and Johnny’s mother, Katherine, fills the void left by her daughter’s disappearance with drugs and alcohol. Unable to stand the guilt associated with Alyssa’s abduction, Katherine’s husband splits, leaving a new psychotic boyfriend to pick up the pieces. The only thing worse than living with a psychopath is living with one who has an enormous amount of power and influence. Regularly abusing both Johnny and his mother, Ken Holloway keeps Katherine heavily medicated, rendering her unable to comprehend the situation she’s slipped into and with Holloway’s standing in the community, she’s seemingly helpless to change a thing.

This all ties into the lead officer assigned to the Merriman disappearance, Detective Clyde Hunt. Unable to locate Alyssa and bring her home, Hunt has been consumed by the case. He’s immersed himself so deeply and become so obsessed that he’s lost his wife and alienated his son. Being so determined to close the file, he’s remained close to the Merriman family and because of this, rumors have swirled that he’s harboring feelings for Katherine.

This only scratches the surface of what’s going on within these tightly edited 413 pages. At the risk of spoiling things, I’ll leave it there.

In The Last Child, Hart showcases a rich cast of supporting characters, all of whom are put through the wringer so to speak. The book itself is as much about the actions and reactions of each individual as it is about the disappearance of Alyssa Merriman. It almost feels like a literary Rubik’s Cube with each character trying to solve his or her own particular problem and by doing so, they’re screwing it up for everyone else when they shift directions.

I know it’s said a lot and can come across as a kind of reviewing cliche but I honestly didn't see that ending coming. I’m interested in re-reading it at some point to see if I can spot any subtle hints Hart laid around leading up to the big reveal as I feel I was totally blindsided by the novel’s outcome.

Winning an Edgar Award in 2010, The Last Child is one of the few mystery novels I've read that isn't a part of a longer series. Luckily for me Hart has three other novels to get my hands on, one of which also snagged him another coveted Edgar in 2008 as well. ( )
  branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
rabck from dvg; Fabulous! Johnny's twin sister disappeared a year ago. His father is gone, his mother has a breakdown and is living at the hands of an abuser, who keeps her doped up. But Johnny can't stop looking for his sister, and the Detective Hunt can't let go either. But in Johnny's forays into the countryside looking for his sister, he stumbles upon a crime scene that he believes is related to his sister's disappearance. But, is a killer now after him? The story includes some ex-slave African/Indian details. Apparently, one of Johnny's ancestors saved Levi's ancestor from a lynching in the forest. But is that related or not? Quite a page turner until the very end - and the end is not what you thought. ( )
  nancynova | Mar 21, 2014 |
13-year old Johnny's twin sister, Alyssa, went missing a year ago. He is still searching for her. His mother is in a new “relationship” since his father left them shortly after Alyssa disappeared, but the new relationship is full of drugs, booze and abuse, so Johnny's really taking care of himself.

I really liked this. There were some unexpected twists, and it was one that I wanted to keep reading. It was told from a few different points of view, and there were times, unexpectedly, that I actually enjoyed reading the detective's point of view more than Johnny's. Overall, though, very good book!
  LibraryCin | Dec 20, 2013 |
This is an example of the classic mystery cast in tones of The Lord of the Flies - replete with red herrings galore and ultra-shocking twists. There are times when you read a book and it just continually amazes you - not just on the level of the story itself, but as regards the author's ability to structure and express a story in such a way that it maintains tension, delivers surprises, and fills each page with insight.

John Hart is one of the best novelists writing today, and each page he writes shows the skill and care with which he crafts his stories. He has written four books, I've read them all, and I can't wait for the next one. ( )
  jpporter | Sep 22, 2013 |
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This book is for Nancy and Bill Stanback, Annie and John Hart, and Kay and Norde Wilson. Parents, friends, trusted advisors.
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Asphalt cut the country like a scar, a long, hot burn of razor-black.
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Darkness is a cancer of the human heart.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312642369, Paperback)

Winner of the 2010 Edgar Award for Best Novel

John Hart’s New York Times bestselling debut, The King of Lies, announced the arrival of a major talent. With Down River, he surpassed his earlier success, transcending the barrier between thriller and literature and winning the 2008 Edgar Award for best novel. Now, with The Last Child, he achieves his most significant work to date, an intricate, powerful story of loss, hope, and courage in the face of evil.

Thirteen year-old Johnny Merrimon had the perfect life: a warm home and loving parents; a twin sister, Alyssa, with whom he shared an irreplaceable bond. He knew nothing of loss, until the day Alyssa vanished from the side of a lonely street. Now, a year later, Johnny finds himself isolated and alone, failed by the people he’d been taught since birth to trust. No one else believes that Alyssa is still alive, but Johnny is certain that she is---confident in a way that he can never fully explain.

Determined to find his sister, Johnny risks everything to explore the dark side of his hometown. It is a desperate, terrifying search, but Johnny is not as alone as he might think. Detective Clyde Hunt has never stopped looking for Alyssa either, and he has a soft spot for Johnny. He watches over the boy and tries to keep him safe, but when Johnny uncovers a dangerous lead and vows to follow it, Hunt has no choice but to intervene.

Then a second child goes missing . . .

Undeterred by Hunt’s threats or his mother’s pleas, Johnny enlists the help of his last friend, and together they plunge into the wild, to a forgotten place with a history of violence that goes back more than a hundred years. There, they meet a giant of a man, an escaped convict on his own tragic quest. What they learn from him will shatter every notion Johnny had about the fate of his sister; it will lead them to another far place, to a truth that will test both boys to the limit.

Traveling the wilderness between innocence and hard wisdom, between hopelessness and faith, The Last Child leaves all categories behind and establishes John Hart as a writer of unique power.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:01 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

After his twin sister Alyssa disappears, thirteen year-old Johnny Merrimon is determined to find her. When a second girl disappears from his rural North Carolina town, Johnny makes a discovery that sends shock waves through the community in this multi-layered tale of broken families and deadly secrets.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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