‘The Last Child’ is the first book that I’ve read by John Hart. It was brilliant and I can see why it won so many awards. A word of warning – if you can’t read about child abduction, then this book isn’t for you.
It is a year since Alyssa Merrimon went missing. Everyone has stopped looking for her except for her 13 year old twin brother Johnny who believes she is still alive and Detective Clyde Hunt who is haunted by his inability to find Alyssa and who has lost his wife and is losing his son because of his obsession.
Alyssa’s parents were wracked with guilt at failing to protect her. Her father left three weeks after her disappearance and her mother descended into a world of alcohol and drugs and abuse by the politically and financially powerful sadist – Ken Holloway.
Johnny’s life has fallen apart. He looks after his mother Katherine as well as he can, avoids Ken Holloway and continues his systematic search for Alyssa, knocking on doors, observing the local paedophiles and going places that no 13 year old should go. Then two events occur that change the situation – another girl goes missing and Johnny observes a deliberate hit and run. As he is dying, the victim tells Johnny that he has found the missing girl. Armed with new information and making use of local history from more than 100 years ago, Johnny makes some discoveries that the police would never have found.
The ending was completely unexpected although I had suspicions that one of the bad guys was involved in something.
The characters in this book were brilliant – Johnny and his best friend Jack, Detective Hunt, Katherine Merrimon, Ken Holloway, Levi Freemantle (an escaped prisoner) and some of the other police.
The plot was excellent although I had trouble working out where the book was going in the early sections.
I cried when I read the last line of the book, but I’m not sure how much of that was from reading so late.
This book was so well written that I can’t wait to read some of John Hart’s other books.
Book Published 2009