The Last Child by John Hart

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Winner of the 2010 Edgar Award for Best Novel

Heralded by the Washington Post as a "a magnificent creation, Huck Finn channeled through Lord of the Flies", John Hart's The Last Child is 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 he'd 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 Hunt's threats or his mother's 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.


About John Hart

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John Hart is the New York Times bestselling author of Down River and The King of Lies. The only author in history to win the best novel Edgar Award for consecutive novels, John has also won the Barry Award and England's Steel Dagger Award for best thriller of the year. He was born and raised in North Carolina. For a time he practiced criminal defense law, but left to focus on his writing.
Published May 26, 2009 by Minotaur Books. 384 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Crime, Horror. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Last Child

Kirkus Reviews

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Then another little girl is kidnapped, and when murder follows murder, with more murder in the wings, it’s as if Pandora’s Box has sprung open.

Apr 01 2009 | Read Full Review of The Last Child

The Guardian

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The Last Child by John Hart Find this on the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop Like Hart's 2007 novel Down River, a big Richard & Judy bookclub hit, Th...

May 30 2009 | Read Full Review of The Last Child

Book Reporter

There is an odd similarity between Hunt and Johnny, in that Alyssa’s disappearance and Hunt’s failure to find her have reduced Hunt to a shell, ruining his marriage and leaving his career as a police detective hanging by a thread as his obsession with finding Alyssa is paid with the neglect of hi...

Mar 09 2010 | Read Full Review of The Last Child

The Washington Post

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, ...

Jul 29 2009 | Read Full Review of The Last Child

Reviewing the Evidence

Unable to find his daughter Johnny's father leaves home and Johnny's mother, in order to block out the loss of both husband and child, has turned to drugs provided by Ken Holloway, one of the richest men in town and a former suitor.

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Borrowing heavily from the psychology and subject of Stephen King's The Body (on which the film Stand By Me was based), The Last Child tells the story of Johnny Merrimon, a 13-year-old boy in rural North Carolina who's determined to locate his missing twin sister, Alyssa, long after others in the...

Jun 22 2009 | Read Full Review of The Last Child

Bookmarks Magazine

A former criminal defense attorney, John Hart is the Edgar Award-winning author of two New York Times bestsellers-The King of Lies ( 4 of 5 Stars Selection Sept/Oct 2006) and Down River ( 3.5 of 5 Stars Jan/Feb 2008).

May 10 2009 | Read Full Review of The Last Child

Chamber Four

The Last Child follows 13-year-old Johnny Merrimon on his unceasing quest to find out what happened to his twin sister, Alyssa, who disappeared one year before the novel begins.

Mar 16 2010 | Read Full Review of The Last Child

Creative Loafing

Hart's even-handed realism is a pleasure, albeit occasionally interrupted by ungraceful, explanatory statements such as "Johnny had a great fear of lone men in stopped cars."

May 17 2009 | Read Full Review of The Last Child

Library Journal

Her twin brother, Johnny, became obsessed with trying to find her, their father took off, not to be heard from again, and their mother sank into a world of drugs and booze, helped along by an abusive, wealthy boyfriend.

Mar 04 2009 | Read Full Review of The Last Child

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