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The Last Child
Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the 2010 Edgar Award for Best Novel
John Harts New York Times bestselling debut, The King of Lies, announced the arrival of a major talent. With Down River, he surpassed his earlier success, transcending the barrier between thriller and literature and winning the 2008 Edgar Award for best novel. Now, with The Last Child, he achieves his most significant work to date, an intricate, powerful story of loss, hope, and courage in the face of evil.
Thirteen year-old Johnny Merrimon had the perfect life: a warm home and loving parents; a twin sister, Alyssa, with whom he shared an irreplaceable bond. He knew nothing of loss, until the day Alyssa vanished from the side of a lonely street. Now, a year later, Johnny finds himself isolated and alone, failed by the people hed been taught since birth to trust. No one else believes that Alyssa is still alive, but Johnny is certain that she is---confident in a way that he can never fully explain.
Determined to find his sister, Johnny risks everything to explore the dark side of his hometown. It is a desperate, terrifying search, but Johnny is not as alone as he might think. Detective Clyde Hunt has never stopped looking for Alyssa either, and he has a soft spot for Johnny. He watches over the boy and tries to keep him safe, but when Johnny uncovers a dangerous lead and vows to follow it, Hunt has no choice but to intervene.
Then a second child goes missing . . .
Undeterred by Hunts threats or his mothers pleas, Johnny enlists the help of his last friend, and together they plunge into the wild, to a forgotten place with a history of violence that goes back more than a hundred years. There, they meet a giant of a man, an escaped convict on his own tragic quest. What they learn from him will shatter every notion Johnny had about the fate of his sister; it will lead them to another far place, to a truth that will test both boys to the limit.
Traveling the wilderness between innocence and hard wisdom, between hopelessness and faith, The Last Child leaves all categories behind and establishes John Hart as a writer of unique power.
"A year after 12-year-old Alyssa Merrimon disappeared on her way home from the library in an unnamed rural North Carolina town, her twin brother, Johnny, continues to search the town, street by street, even visiting the homes of known sex offenders, in this chilling novel from Edgar-winner Hart (Down River). Det. Clyde Hunt, the lead cop on Alyssa's case, keeps a watchful eye on Johnny and his mother, who has deteriorated since Alyssa's abduction and her husband's departure soon afterward. When a second girl is snatched, Johnny is even more determined to find his sister, convinced that the perpetrator is the same person who took Alyssa. But what he unearths is more sinister than anyone imagined, sending shock waves through the community and putting Johnny's own life in danger. Despite a tendency to dip into melodrama, Hart spins an impressively layered tale of broken families and secrets that can kill. 175,000 first printing; author tour. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A year and a day have passed since the abduction of 12-year-old Alyssa Merrimon, and her twin brother, Johnny, has never felt more alone. His father abandoned the family soon after the disappearance, and his mother has all but vanished into a haze of drinking, drugs and abusive sex. The police detective who investigated the case hovers over the remnants of the family like a watchful angel, but his... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) attentions are unwelcome; he hasn't found the girl. In fact, Johnny's only true friend is his frail young classmate Jack, and even he wavers between supporting Johnny's faith that Alyssa's alive and knowing that she's gone forever. But then a clue falls from the sky — literally: A biker hit by a car and thrown from a bridge lands almost at Johnny's feet. "I found her," he says in his dying words. "The girl that was taken." John Hart's third novel covers only a few days in the life of a North Carolina town, but the minutes all seem breathless. Every few chapters bring new twists and startling revelations: another girl's disappearance, bodies and then more bodies, a surprising series of connections that casts new light on everything that's come before and throws darkening shadows over what's ahead. The young boy at the story's center is a magnificent creation, Huck Finn channeled through "Lord of the Flies," and as a detective in his own right he proves as driven and passionate as any mystery fan could hope for. Along the way, the author returns to the central themes of his first two novels — class divisions and the bonds of family — but with a broader scope, delving with grace and empathy into the inner lives of characters across a wide spectrum: policemen balancing the personal and the professional, an escaped convict who hears the voice of God, troubled children growing up too fast, parents undone by grief. And where those earlier novels — even his Edgar Award-winning "Down River" — seemed mired in frequent melodrama, this new book strips away the more overt sentimentality and proves all the more poignant and heartbreaking. Hart is still far too young for "The Last Child" to be called a crowning achievement, but the novel's ambition, emotional breadth and maturity make it an early masterpiece in a career that continues to promise great things. Reviewed by Art Taylor, who contributed an essay on Hart's novels to an upcoming issue of the North Carolina Literary Review, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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Fresh off the success of his Edgar Award-winning, "New York Times" bestseller "Down River," Hart returns with the story of a young boy's hunt for his missing sister, and the dark truths he uncovers in his North Carolina hometown.
A heartrending thriller about a young boy's hunt for his missing sister, and the dark truths he uncovers in his North Carolina hometown.
Fresh off the success of his Edgar® Award-winning, New York Times bestseller 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 couldve 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 Alyssas case, and it shows: haunted and sleepless, hes lost his wife and put his shield at risk. But he cant put the case behind him—he wont—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.
About the Author
JOHN HART is the Edgar Award--winning author of two New York Times bestsellers, The King of Lies and Down River. His books have been translated into twenty-six languages and published in over thirty countries. A former criminal defense attorney, John has also worked as a banker, stockbroker and apprentice helicopter mechanic. Other than writing, his favorite job was pouring pints in a London pub. A husband and father of two, John still lives in his native North Carolina, where he writes full-time. Visit him at www.johnhartfiction.com.
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