‘The Four Last Things’ is the first book in Andrew Taylor’s Roth trilogy. The other two books in the trilogy are ‘The Judgement of Strangers’ and ‘The Office of the Dead’. A few months ago when I was reading about Andrew Taylor, I remembered enjoying ‘Fallen Angel’ on TV years ago, so I couldn’t wait to read the books.
The Reverend Sally Appleyard has been coming under increasing pressure since becoming a Deacon at St George’s church in Kensal Vale from those, including her husband Michael (a police officer), who think that she should stay at home and look after her family and from those, including Michael’s godfather David Byfield (an Anglo-Catholic Minister), who believe that women should not be ordained. Already feeling guilty and torn, Sally is absolutely distraught when her 4 year old daughter Lucy is abducted from her childminder’s house.
Eddie Grace’s childhood has left him emotionally damaged and unable to hold a regular job. So when beautiful and child loving nanny Angel Wharton moves into his house as a boarder, she has no trouble manipulating him. Together they bring little girls to stay as guests at the house and Eddie assumes that Angel eventually returns them to their homes. But with Lucy’s abduction, Angel says that she’s is different and that Eddie can’t play with her.
As the police and Lucy’s parents search for her, body parts of young girls start to appear in various religious locations (churches and graveyards). It is the Reverend David Byfield who eventually makes a connection between current events and the ‘four last things’ of the apocalypse – Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell.
The story is dark and menacing and told from a number of different points of view – Sally Appleyard is the desperate mother who can no longer cope with any part of her life until her child is returned. Eddie Grace is a paedophile who was so traumatised by his childhood that you almost feel sympathy for him. Angel is just evil.
This was a very atmospheric and completely riveting book. A lot of issues were left open at the end of the book which I expect will be addressed in the other books in the trilogy. I can’t wait to read then next one – ‘The Judgement of Strangers’.
Book Published 1997