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Publisher's Summary

Fresh off the success of his Edgar® Award-winning, New York Times best seller Down River, John Hart returns with his most powerful and intricately-plotted novel yet. Thirteen year-old Johnny Merrimon had the perfect life: happy parents and a twin sister that meant the world to him. But Alyssa went missing a year ago, stolen off the side of a lonely street with only one witness to the crime. His family shattered, his sister presumed dead, Johnny risks everything to explore the dark side of his hometown in a last, desperate search. What he finds is a city with an underbelly far blacker than anyone could've imagined - and somewhere in the depths of it all, with the help of his only friend and a giant of a man with his own strange past, Johnny, at last, finds the terrible truth.

Detective Clyde Hunt has devoted an entire year to Alyssa's case, and it shows: haunted and sleepless, he's lost his wife and put his shield at risk. But he can't put the case behind him - he won't - and when another girl goes missing, the failures of the past year harden into iron determination. Refusing to lose another child, Hunt knows he has to break the rules to make the case; and maybe, just maybe, the missing girl will lead him to Alyssa...

The Last Child is a tale of boundaries: county borders and circles on a map, the hard edge between good and evil, life and death, hopelessness and faith. Perfectly blending character and plot, emotion and action, John Hart again transcends the barrier between thrillers and literature to craft a story as heartrending as it is redemptive.

©2009 John Hart (P)2009 Macmillan Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

Stick With It!

This is one of THE most compelling books I have read in a very, very long time. It took me 6 or 7 tries to get past the first 30 minutes due to the narrator, but once the story thread is picked up, you just can't stop listening. The only reason I gave 4 stars is due to the narration. So, stick with it! As far as plots and storylines go, this book is a winner.

26 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Janice
  • Sugar Land, TX, United States
  • 10-28-10

Good story poorly read

Because of the number of negative comments about the quality of the reader I listened to the sample before downloading this title. It didn't seem so bad in the sample, but I admit that by the time I got half way through listening, I was worn out with a false southern accent of no known region that I'm familiar with -certainly not a North Carolinian sound. Worse, the cadence of reading one-word-at-a-time instead of reading sentences with comprehension and insight made it a difficult listen. I stuck with it because the story is worth it. I would strongly recommend it as a book, not so much as an audio book.

23 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Choices and consequences in the face of adversity

The last child is heart wrenching tale of a young boy searching for his abucted sister; of the dangers he faces while searching for her in dangerous places; and of thefriends and unlikely allies that join him in his search and his fight for surviving abuse and dangerous enemies encountered while protecting what is left of a mother unable to cope with the tragedy and who is no longer aware that he still needs her love and protection. If you ever wondered what happens to people touched by a heinous crime after the reporters leave town?; of how investigators forever haunted deal with their failure to find the victims? of what happens to the lifes of survivors that have no closure?, of if a decision can forever change the life all those touched by a tragic event?, of what is the value of one child's life measured against the future of your own child? of what is the "right choice" if you question where your loyalties lie? So if you ever wonder about those questions then you will like this book. I for once did not guess the complete solution which made the book even better.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Elisabeth
  • Durham, NC, United States
  • 06-01-09

An audio "page turner"

I really enjoyed The Last Child. This murder mystery rollicked along with interesting characters. Amazing how many bad things can happen in one little Southern town. My only negative was that I found the narrator some how distracting for the first few hours. Though it takes a fair dose of willing suspension of disbelief, it is an engrossing story. A good listen for the car.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kevin
  • Collinsville, OK, United States
  • 07-11-09

A good listen

I enjoyed this book very much on a long car trip. I didn't have any of the troubles that other reviewers had with the reader's diction and style. Other than a few "again's" pronounced with a long "a" he read very well, particularly the vocal changes for the various characters. The plot is complex and engaging without being difficult to follow. It was a good companion for the trip.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Diane
  • Enid, OK, USA
  • 06-24-09

Never again...

As much as I enjoyed this book, I will never listen to another audiobook read by Scott Sowers. After a short time his narration was like nails on a chalkboard. It was all I could do to finish. Fortunately John Hart wrote a great book despite the horrid narration.

29 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Bull
  • Blacksburg, VA, USA
  • 11-20-12

A curious performance by Scott Sowers

There was a point when I started to toss this book in my digital DNF file. It was a little over six hours into Part 1, about the time when Johnny was having a dream about his sister and snakes. No, not because snakes are creepy, but this was when I first started to hear Scott Sowers going way overboard with his enunciation. All of a sudden I noticed that every syllable of every word was spoken distinctly, dipthongs became two syllables, and normally elided letter sequences were broken into their component parts. The was never a thu and never an uh.

It started distracting me more and more. I went back and listened again to early parts of the book and heard a trace of the odd speech, but nowhere near as overwhelming.

I soldiered on, trying to keep up with the story. But I was paying more attention to Sowers' narration than to the book. In fact, there was one body unearthed during that odd period of narration, and I have no idea how the guy was killed, so distracting was Sowers' performance. I looked for some sort of explanation for this curious change in narration. Something in the story line, requiring special pronunciation? Something about the characters, maybe an astral influence? No. Nothing.

From somewhere early in Part 2 onwards, Sowers' accent started sounding more and more normal, or normal for one doing North Carolina. By the end Sowers was back to form. In fact, he did a superb job capturing the despair of one of the young boys in the story, as he pleads with his friend for understanding.

I thought Sowers did an excellent job of capturing North Carolina in "Down River", and said so. Since that book was released two years before this one, I assume it was produced first, so I have no idea why Sowers would still be messing around with an accent he had apparently mastered.

Anyhow, was the book good? You bet. I started off prepared to not like it when I discovered the protagonist was a 13 year old boy, thinking this would wind up a modern-day Hardy Boys treatment. Time went by, however, and I started getting into it. Yes, you have to suspend disbelief to buy into some of the things Johnnie does, but in the end it all works very well.

I do wonder if John Hart has read much of Kathy Reich's Temperance Brennan ("Bones") series? If I remember correctly, it sometimes takes Tempe hours to determine just the sex of a body that's been buried for a few years. John Hart's medical examiner does sex, age, and maybe cause of death, all at a glance.

I started reading John Hart with "Down River" because it won an Edgar. That was one of the best books I have ever read. This one had the potential, but Scott Sowers' strange changes in accent and enunciation dragged it down for me.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

This book deserves the 5 star rating

Rarely do I rate a book a five. But this one deserves it. Good character development ... lots of twists in the story line. I was sorry to get to the end. I got so involved in the characters, I find I want to know more details about how they got past all the tradegy.

Well written!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Russ
  • Potomac, MA, USA
  • 06-03-09

annoyed of the few I have ever given up on without finishing, not because the story was so bad, but because the narration was annoying. Perfect diction is not the most important fact too much precision can set your nerves on edge and is many times accompanied by an emotionless tone.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

great book

Very well written with a multifaceted storyline. It is nice to read an author who does not feel he has to portray lurid details in order to paint a vivid picture. I highly recommend this book.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Elizabeth
  • 09-19-09

Great Story

This is a great story with several twists that certainly caught me out. Its setting is excellent as is the character development and a tension and urgency throughout the story leading right up to its conclusion. The narration takes a while to get used to but is gritty and wholly representative of the setting - it works really well and is compelling to listen to.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-25-11

Great story, wonderfully narrated

On the amazon reviews someone complained that this book was depressing. Well reading the synopsis should make it clear that it's a pretty heavy plotline.

It's a wonderful book. Good plot, fantasticly evocative, and while sections of it were really dark or made me want to go straight home and hug my children, i found it strangely inspirational.

I enjoyed the different layers within the book, it doesn't just jump around characters becasue it feels it needs to, the flow is good and even when some authors may have finished the book, this book keeps on going and in the end you feel like the author actually finished the book - and didn't just feel like he'd done enough to keep his publishers happy so could rush off and do something else.

I thought the narrator was excellent as well, and his style really suited the material. Managing the full range of styles required. Extremely enjoyable

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kirstine
  • 08-01-11

Slow start and then takes off

I found the beginning of the book a bit slow to capture my attention but thereafter the story took off and I was gripped by the twists and turns in the narrative. The reader is excellent and really brings the characters alive. At times I found the author's descriptive prose over-burdened with similes that slowed the action and I found myself wishing he'd just get on with the story. However, overall I enjoyed the book and thought it was well-plotted and held my attention to the end as I was eager to find out the final denouement.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Elinor Dashwood
  • 06-15-11

Wonderful, clever and haunting!

I can't rave highly enough about this book. It was so cleverly plotted and written - even when you think you know whodunnit, you'll still be suprised. It was a haunting evocation of childhood and parenting, and the narrator was excellent. A great investment of a credit!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Cabaspre
  • 01-18-11

Excellent twists and turns

A beautifully read book. The narrator was perfect for all the different accents and even portrayed adolescent boys superbly. It was so well written I could imagine every scene, every character and every second of suspense. I can thoroughly recommend this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Joe
  • 04-07-13

Good read

This was a well paced mystery novel that grabbed my attention from the beginning and didn't let go until the last page. It was nicely paced, clever, and definitely fulfilled its promise of being a thriller. I very much like the Washington Post’s description of this as "Huck Finn channeled through Lord of the Flies".

Some of the characters are a bit flat, even clichéd, but the key characters are well drawn and interesting. The plot leads down various roads where no shortage of villains are found, and some dark subjects too. This combined with the age (thirteen) of some key characters makes believability an issue. Indeed some of the dialogue and actions of the younger protagonists seem to stretch credulity. But in the end I was able to suspect disbelief and be swept up in the story.

The writing style was enjoyable, with highly readable prose throughout, though a little overloaded with adjectives at every description - I lost count of how many times 'oily' was used to describe a taste, smell, feel, sound.

Not an exceptional book, but definitely well worth reading, and a must read for crime/thriller/mystery fans.

  • Overall
  • Janice
  • 03-02-12

The Last Child by John Hart

Really enjoyed, sometimes had to stay up very late for by bedtime story, just needed to know what happened next!

  • Overall
  • Mrs
  • 12-22-11

So disappointing

I started this book with high expectations as it had so many good reviews but half way through I very nearly gave up. I had three main problems.
The narrator's voice was flat and even paced and at times he sounded as if he didn't understand what he was reading. The text wasn't given life or pace and he failed to create a personality to the characters. It was very hard to distinguish between them. As for the writing. The text was incredibly repetitive and the first half was far too long for the content which focussed again, and again, and again on eyes and fragiity. Eventually the last part of the second half got going and had some pace. And the story? At the end of the book when everything was revealed a crucial part just didn't make sense. An overwhelming disappointment.,