Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: The Last Child by John Hart

Tessa Bright Wildsmith

Johnny Merrimon hasn’t had it easy lately. When his twin sister, Alyssa, was kidnapped walking home from the library, his whole world fell apart. His mother lost touch with reality, and his father, unable to deal with his grief, left and hasn’t been heard from again. To make matters worse, his mother’s new boyfriend is abusive to both Johnny and his mother. His wealth makes him seemingly untouchable.

It has been a year, and everyone has given up hope of finding Alyssa except her brother. Detective Clyde Hunt is also still obsessed with the Alyssa Merrimon case. He was the lead detective on Alyssa’s case and can’t give up. When his regular day at work ends, he spends the rest of his night pouring over the police report looking for the clue he missed. It has cost him his marriage, and he’s quickly losing his teenage son. Stricken with guilt for not finding Alyssa, Detective Hunt keeps a watchful eye on Johnny and his mother, going above and beyond in trying to help them any way he can.

When a second girl is taken, Johnny is more determined than ever to find his sister. Johnny is convinced the kidnapper is the same person who took Alyssa. Johnny searches his small North Carolina town street by street, mapping out where the known sex offenders live and the people who give him the “creeps.” Johnny and Detective Hunt run parallel roads as they search for the town’s kidnapper, the second missing girl and Alyssa.

What Johnny discovers during his investigation is worse than he could have ever imagined. When the stunning truth finally unfolds, the darker side of the human spirit is revealed, and the truth could end up costing Johnny his life.

Johnny is living a nightmare. To find the strength to keep searching, he delves into ancient Native-American spirituality looking for any help it might provide him. He has been forced to grow up in just a short year’s time. His desperation and loss motivates most of the events in the book.

Hart’s writing is intelligent and poignant. He manages to take a thrilling mystery and make it heartbreaking and sentimental. The characters are vivid and complex. The story is unpredictable, which was nice. A series of story twists and unexpected events kept me guessing where the story was going.

“The Last Child” is a story about love, loss, grief and sometimes redemption. The love a parent has for a child can be greater than anything else in the world. It can drive people to do things they never thought they would do. This was the first of Hart’s books that I’ve read but it won’t be the last.

Have you read “The Last Child?” Discuss your thoughts on the book below.

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