Beth 's Reviews > The Last Child

The Last Child by John Hart
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Mar 17, 2011

really liked it

A 13-year-old boy, Johnny, and his friend, Jack, search for Johnny's twin sister, Alyssa, a year after she has gone missing, after everyone else, it seems, has given up. "It seems" because the case still haunts police Detective Hunt as well.

Jack has described his last sighting of Alyssa: because her father forgot to pick her up, Alyssa was walking home at dusk when a car stopped and she walked up to the open car window, smiling. That's when she was grabbed and pulled into the car, and the car drove away.

Johnny's mother blamed his father for Alyssa's abduction, and he has subsequently walked out on Johnny and his mother. So Johnny is now trying to put his family back together by finding known pedophiles in his county and spying on them, determined to find Alyssa alive. In the process, he uncovers another crime.

John Hart is a great author. THE LAST CHILD, his latest, is a page turner. But I can't praise it as I did DOWN RIVER, Hart's 2006 book, because THE LAST CHILD has a flaw that comes up again and again throughout the book. That is, Johnny's mother, Katheryn, and Detective Hunt's infatuation with her.

Katheryn is described as beautiful. Yet she is also described as addicted to all sorts of drugs, rarely combing or washing her hair, and always unaware of her dirty home and of Johnny's absence. That doesn't sound beautiful to me.

But Detective Hunt is drawn to her even as she disgusts the reader. And at the same time, he is described as smart and capable, seemingly the best detective in his police force. The two descriptions, Hunt's infatuation with a disgusting woman and his high intelligence, just don't jive for me.

Something else that irritated me but probably won't bother most other people: Hart's use of the word "that" when he should use "who." This, too, occurs throughout the book and I would think should have been caught by an editor.

But don't skip this book because of that one flaw or because of what I see as an editorial error. I bought it at Borders and don't feel cheated, that coming from a person who feels cheated when she pays $2 for a bad book. I'm still anxious to read Hart's KING OF LIES, his first book.

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