The Last Child: Book summary and reviews of The Last Child by John Hart

The Last Child

by John Hart

The Last Child by John Hart X
The Last Child by John Hart
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Book Summary

John Hart's 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 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.

Published in hardcover May 2009; paperback March 2010.

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Book Awards

  • award image Edgar Awards, 2010

Reviews

Media Reviews

"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…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." - The Washington Post, Art Taylor

"Hart spins an impressively layered tale of broken families and secrets that can kill." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. With his best novel yet, the Edgar Award-winning Hart firmly cements his place alongside the greats of the genre. Highly recommended." - Library Journal

"Starred Review. Appealingly character-driven, particularly by 13-year-old Johnny, who's full of likeable traces of Huck Finn." - Kirkus Reviews

"Teens looking for adventure, and a story in which a kid shows himself to be smarter than most of the adults around him, will find this novel wholly satisfying." - School Library Journal (Adult Books for High School Students)

This information about The Last Child was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Becky H

Compelling tale of murder and loss
A compelling read of loss, anger, fear, and murder. Johnny is just a child, but he is a child searching for his kidnapped twin sister and aided by a detective possessed of the same relentless need to find Alyssa. Then another young girl goes missing.
The characters are clearly drawn, especially the giant of a child man. The setting is detailed and atmospheric. There are red herrings in plenty, but the plot is tightly controlled and moves along at a ever increasing pace.

Daniel A.

The Last Child
WOW! This is truly one great book. It was riveting and a page-turner. "The Last Child" is a mystery, as are the other two fiction books that the author wrote.
Word of note: All three books of fiction were at least a nominee of the "Edgar", which is awarded to the best mystery of the year. "Down River", his second book won in 2008, and now this book, in 2010.
"The Last Child" has memorable characters and a plot that is twisty.
The bottom line is: If you are a serious fan of crime scene investigation, (CSI), read the prologue and the first chapter. If they don't grab you, then close the book and find another one to read. As for me, I couldn't put this book down. I have a new favorite author and his name is John Hart.

jill Shriver

No connection
Great read until all of a sudden with no connection at all one of the characters that is near death..jumps up, goes to a house he doesn't know and kills someone he doesn't know.. random with no connection!!???

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Author Information

John Hart Author Biography

Photo: Eddie Bauer

John Hart is the author of the Redemption Road (2016), and of four New York Times bestsellers, The King of Lies, Down River, The Last Child and Iron House. The only author in history to win the best novel Edgar Award for consecutive novels, John has also won the Barry Award, the Southern Independent Bookseller's Award for Fiction, the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award and the North Carolina Award for Literature. His novels have been translated into thirty languages and can be found in over seventy countries.

A former defense attorney and stockbroker, John spends his time in North Carolina and Virginia, where he writes full-time.

Author Interview
Link to John Hart's Website

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