This is the third book by this North Carolina author. In fact, he's not only a North Carolina author, he's also from my home town, which is pretty darn cool. His first two books, King of Lies and Down River, are both set in Rowan County. I read King of Lies, and I have Down River but haven't read it, yet. Hart has sold the film rights to both of these books, and I think they would both make great movies. He won the Edgar Award for Down River, as well. I finished The Last Child over the weekend and really enjoyed it. In fact, I liked it better than the first book. They are all stand alone books so it doesn't really matter in what order you read them -- just read them, especially if you like well-written, mystery/suspense/thrillers.
This book has quite a bit going on, but it all comes together nicely in the end. There are two main characters -- Johnny Merrimon and Clyde Hunt. Hunt is a lead detective in charge of the most serious crimes. Johnny is a 13 year old boy who lost his twin sister a year previously to an apparent abduction. Hunt has been investigating the case, but has yet to find Alyssa or anyone who may have taken her. Of course, as you can well imagine, this event takes its toll on everyone in this small community. A once happy family is torn apart. Johnny's dad walks out the door one day following the incident and never comes back. Johnny's mom drinks herself into a stupor because she can't cope with the situation. Johnny is left to care for his mother while obsessively looking for his sister and whoever may have taken her. He skips school and sneaks out of the house as he methodically searches every street focusing on the addresses of known sex offenders.
This is a very brief summary of the book. There is a great deal more to the plot, but I don't want to risk spoiling anything. I thought I had part of it figured out early on, but then I began to doubt myself at the midway point. In the end, I figured out part of it, but not the whole thing. I wasn't sure how Hart was going to tie all the loose ends together, but in the end he does. This genre is not always my first choice in reading, but I enjoy a good mystery/suspense book every once in a while. This one is well written and done in such a way as not to rely on too many coincidences to further the plot. I think Hart is an author we will definitely be hearing more from. I love it when a hometown boy (or girl) makes it big.