Audiobook Review: The Last Child by John Hart

Title: The Last Child
Author: John Hart
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Scott Sowers
First line: Johnny learned early.

It has been a year since Alyssa, 13-year-old Johnny Merrimon’s twin sister, disappeared. In that time, his life has fallen apart. His father has walked out on them, his mother has sunk into a pit of depression fueled by drugs and alcohol, and they’ve lost their home. Unfortunately, there are always predatory men waiting for beautiful women like Katherine, Johnny’s mother, to be vulnerable and desperate – and Ken Holloway is all too willing to provide Katherine and Johnny with a home. Katherine and Johnny take the brunt of Holloway’s alcohol-induced violence, but Holloway’s status in the community keeps him protected.

The only person still watching out for the Merrimons is Detective Clyde Hunt. He’s dealing with his own demons – his guilt over failing to bring Alyssa home has cost him his marriage and his relationship with his son. He tries to help Johnny and Katherine, without stepping into that place his partner calls “the personal.” But when another young girl disappears, everything becomes personal – and Hunt is determined that this time, he’ll bring her home. Johnny is convinced that the two disappearances are connected, and sets out to do some investigating of his own – with dire consequences.

John Hart has crafted the perfect thriller. It has characters that will break your heart, a page-turning plot, a twist ending, and an atmospheric setting, along with brilliant writing. It brought to mind the work of Tana French and Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter – and I hope his other work is as good.

Johnny Merrimon broke my heart. While all of the characters are wonderfully written, this is Johnny’s story. His love for his sister and his refusal to believe that she’s dead are what drive his every action. He is fierce and intelligent and strong in spite of everything the world has done to destroy him.

Clyde Hunt is a detective who attempts to walk the line between “just doing the job” and “making it personal.” His struggles – with himself, and with the politically-minded police chief who seems determined to block him at every move – make for compelling reading. I liked his character so much that I would love to see another book with him as the investigator.

Once in a while, I find myself so lost in an audiobook that I don’t want to read print books, and this was one of those times. When I got to the last two discs, I did nothing but listen until I finished and found out how it ended. I can definitely see this title appearing on my “favorite audiobooks of 2012” list.

Audio notes: Scott Sowers was perfect. Absolutely perfect. He gave a nuanced performance, finding the emotion in every line and inhabiting each character.

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15 Responses to Audiobook Review: The Last Child by John Hart

  1. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    When you mentioned this the other day, I ordered it from my library on audio. I read Iron House in print and while it had some flaws, it was a fast-paced read and a decidedly masculine tone of prose, which I liked. I can’t wait to listen to it.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Sandy – I’m so glad you’re going to try it – I hope you love it as much as I did!

  2. Beth Hoffman says:

    I’ve had this book on my radar for a while and glad to know that you enjoyed it so much!

  3. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion

    This author and this book are very popular at the indie bookstore I shop. It sounds marvelous.

  4. Kathleen says:

    I have this one on my shelves and can really look forward to reading it now!

  5. DebD says:

    wow, this sounds fascinating, and I love audio books. Just the right reader can make all the difference in the world. I’m looking for a new audio book for my taxi-mom duties. I’ll have to check this one out.

  6. Pingback: The Sunday Salon – March 4, 2012 (the “February reading wrap-up” and “Reading Challenges and TBR Double Dare update” edition) | BOOKS AND MOVIES

  7. I read this one in print format a couple (?) years ago and really liked it. I glad the audio version doesn’t lose anything in the telling. Hart is such a talented writer.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Wendy – yes, he is – I can’t wait to read (or listen to) more by him.