Ballantine Books, ISBN 978-0345535405
August 7, 2012, 336 pages
When Charlotte Stone was a teenager, she witnessed her friend and her friend's family murdered by a serial killer. She was hidden and escaped, the only victim of the Boardwalk Killer to escape. She did not see his face, could not identify him and he was never caught, although his killing stop.
Now it is 15 years later and Charlotte is now Doctor Stone, and a leading expert on the minds of serial killers. She working on a study in a prison in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, when the FBI come to request her help. It seems the Boardwalk Killer is back and she is in a unique position to assist them. She seems to have insights into crimes that are beyond her medical and psychological training and which could give her and the FBI the advantage they desperately need to try and save the life of the latest girl he has taken but they believe may still be alive.
And they are right. Charlotte has a very special 'gift', one she does not control and does not even want. She sees dead people...wooooo hooooo..people who have died violent deaths and not yet totally 'passed on' and who can sometimes give her clues into what happened to them.
But there is one more twist to the story before she heads out from the prison. As she is talking to Special Agent Tony Bartoli in her office, the inmate, convicted serial Michael Garland, who she was just interviewing for her study, get attacked. He is stabbed by another inmate and, as she goes to help, dies in her arms. And now it seems his ghost, his rather creepy, charismatic, violent ghost is 'attached' to her, popping up all the time, until he is forced to move on.
Wow, there are so many reasons why I should have hated this book. So many reasons that made me wonder why in the world I ever requested the ARC of this book. When I saw this was listed as a paranormal novel, and a romance, I was totally sure I was going to hate it. The cover is even one of the sort of book that I don't really like. When I saw the very mixed reviews on Amazon, I thought this was going to be bad. Bad.
And ya know what?
I was wrong! No, I actually though it was a very good book, totally enjoyed it and whipped right through it to it's exciting conclusion. Regarding most of those bad reviews...I think they totally missed one HUGE point that makes all the difference to their issues with this story. One huge point which I can totally not explain to you without giving away the whole story. Sorry, but if you read this book, and I do recommend that you do so, you will know what I mean. Is that confusing enough?
The paranormal was not what I expected, the romance was not what I expected and the whole book turned out quite differently than I expected with a clever little twist at the very end that I loved.
Yes, it is about a serial killer and a bit scary and dark, but parts of it, especially Charlotte's conversations with herself and her conversations with her ghostly companion are very funny at times. And the investigation, with a few clues Charlotte picks up from her own brand of witness, is smart and face paced.
Have you ever started a book, sure that you would dislike it, sure you would hate it, and then just the opposite ended up being true.
Well, The Last Victim is such a book and if there is a sequel..and I feel a sequel coming on...I will be grabbing it up.
For me, that is the best recommendation you can get.
My thanks to the publisher and Library Thing Early Reviewers for my copy of this book.