The Last Child
“The last Child” is Hart´s third novel after “The King of Lies” and “Down River”. Again the story is situated in a small town in North Carolina, again the river plays an important part in it.
At the centre is 13-year-old Johnny Merrimon, who lives in desolate circumstances with his drug-addicted, beautiful mother Katherine and her violent boyfriend Ken, the richest man in town. They were a happy family a year before, but then Johnny´s twin sister Alyssa was abducted and his adored father disappeared, which brought them into their present dire conditions. Johnny is a slight boy with a strong will and stubborn mind. He looks after his mother as best he can and pursues his search of Alyssa, although everybody else, including Police Detective Clyde Hunt, have given up.
From the beginning the reader is drawn into the story so intensely, that Johnny´s worries become his own and he cannot stop reading. Hart spins an intricate pattern of dark secrets and violence, which comes to a first climax, when another abducted girl is found alive by Johnny and her tormentor is killed.
But Johnny cannot leave it alone. Together with his troubled friend Jack, a police detective´s son, he finds an escaped black prisoner in a wild forgotten place, full of ancient history. Detective Hunt also is on the trail, when another person is killed, and graves in the woods are discovered. Hart does not loosen his grip of the reader until the very end, which offers certainty about the fate of Alyssa and Johnny´s father, but also hope for Johnny, because Hunt and Katherine find each other.