Category: Thriller Review (page 2 of 2)

#BestsellerCode100: Reader’s Review The Last Child by John Hunt

Let’s take a look at The Last Child by John Hunt from a Reader’s Perspective.

This post contains spoilers.

John Hunt’s The Last Child*

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

The Last Child, by John Hunt, is the fifth book we have read for the 100 Bestsellers List reading challenge.  Like Shutter Island, the first book we read, The Last Child is a Mystery / Thriller, but that’s where the similarity ends.   In the first book, U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels, is sent to Shutter Island, a hospital for the criminally insane, to locate a lost inmate.  By the end of the book, though, we come away uncertain about who Teddy really is – the strong, capable law enforcement agent or an inmate himself who created his own reality as a way to deflect dealing with a tragedy in his life.

In The Last Child, Johnny Merrimon is a thirteen-year-old boy who has endured unimaginable losses and pain over the past year – his twin sister, Alyssa, was kidnapped and never found; his father, unable to handle the grief, ran off; his mother, Katherine, has withdrawn into a haze of drugs and alcohol; and his mother’s boyfriend physically and emotionally abuses both Katherine and Johnny.  And yet, through it all, Johnny exhibits perseverance, dogged determination, and an inner strength that seems to elude most of the adults in his life.  Johnny believes that his twin is still alive, and when a second girl is kidnapped, Johnny redoubles his search for her.  This search unearths dark secrets in this small North Carolinian town, secrets others are willing to kill to keep.

Author John Hunt covers a number of adult topics through the character of young Johnny – grief, abuse, sex predators, family love, hope, faith, friendship, sin, courage – topics we don’t want to think that a thirteen-year-old should have to deal with, and yet I found Johnny,  both his thoughts and actions, very believable.  I felt his pain, understood his determination, marveled at his unfailing belief that his sister was still alive, and hoped beyond hope that he would be able to find her.

I won’t reveal the outcome, but I did appreciate the fact that all the loose ends were neatly tied up at the end of the book.  Likely that is one reason I thought The Last Child was the best of the five bestsellers we have read so far – no open-ended, “what to you think happened?” ending.

I also really appreciated Hunt’s ability to write about his native state of North Carolina with such great intimacy.  Many scenes in the book take place in the countryside – riverbeds, forests, abandoned homesteads, swamps, old cemeteries – and his writing took me back to childhood hikes through woods, wading in the stream behind our house, and finding refuge in a nearby cemetery.  He evoked the smell of a decaying forest bed, the slippery danger of moss along the rocky stream, the sudden warning silences of birds in the trees.  The only other author I’ve read recently that really made me “feel” the setting was Pat Conroy with his Prince of Tides.

The Last Child most certainly belongs on this list of 100 Bestsellers, and it will most certainly NOT be the last book I read by John Hunt.  I’ve added all of his books to my Goodreads “want to read” list and intend to find the time to read them soon.

What did you think of The Last Child? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Related posts:

  1. The Last Child landing page
  2. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

After you finish the book, you might want to drop by to take our survey.


You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.


What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 95 on the list, The Mill River Recluse by Darcie Chan (2011) – Discussion begins January 16, 2017.

#amreading Lee Child Night School Interview

This week author Lee Child chatted via Facebook about writing and his newest Jack Reacher novel, Night School, published this month.

Novel Teaser:

Night School travels back in time in the series. It is 1996 and protagonist Jack Reacher is still in the army. An undercover asset overhears a snippet of conversation: “The American wants a hundred million dollars.” Along with an FBI agent and a CIA Analyst, Reacher is assigned to find out what is going on.

Interview with Lee Child:

During the interview, Child revealed some absolute gems about writing and the life of a writer. For example, he said he doesn’t outline, but starts with a general feel. His definition of a feel is  hot, cold, rocky, or soft.  He explains that if the feel is cold, then the novel might be set on the coast of Maine. If it is hot, he might choose the south of Texas. From there he simply writes whatever comes out.

While he was speaking, he made it clear that he continuously thinks of the reader. For example, he writes one book a year because he thinks that is how long it takes for a reader to finish the last one and build up an anticipation for the next. Longer than that and readers might lose interest. More often, and readers might become over saturated.

Even though Lee has little control over the movies that are made from the books in the Jack Reacher series, he graciously answered questions about those as well.

Want to find out more? Check out the archived interview.

Talking about his main character, Child confessed that Jack Reacher wants to settle into a committed relationship with a woman, but he is attracted to smart women. Too smart, in fact, to consider him as a lifelong partner. Awww…

He also admitted he envisioned Jack Reacher to look like rugby player Lawrence Dallagio.



Photograph by zoonabar license Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic downloaded from Wikimedia.

Overall, it was an informative interview and I look forward to reading the book.

Are you a Lee Child fan? Have you picked up Night School yet?

#BestsellerCode100: Number 100 Shutter Island

Are you ready to discuss Shutter Island, the 100th novel listed in The Bestseller Code (review) by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers ?

This post does not contain spoilers.  (Note:  Out of consideration to those who possibly haven’t read the book yet, please indicate right up front if your comment or review contains spoilers.)

Shutter Island: A Novel by Dennis Lehane



The year is 1954. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner Chuck Aule travel to the Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane on Shutter Island to find out what has happened to a woman who has mysteriously disappeared. As the investigation deepens, Daniels uncovers more questions than answers.

What do you think of this novel?

Join the discussion:

We’ve provided a number of ways for you to join in the discussion.

  • Add a comment to this post
  • Take our survey
  • Link your review (in the link form below)
  • Join us on social media

Update of recent posts discussing Shutter Island:

  1. Discussion of the narrator
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. First paragraph
  4. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective


Do you agree with the computer that this novel is one of the best of the bestsellers?



If you have reviewed Shutter Island, please feel free to add a link to your review here.

You can also join us on social media:

As this is the first of the series, please excuse any bugs or glitches. Let us know if you have any problems or questions.

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 99 on the list, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (2011) – Discussion begins November 21, 2016.

#Thriller: Duet in Beirut

Have you ever used a novel as research for a writing project? This week we have Duet in Beirut: A Thriller by Mishka Ben-David and translated by Evan Fallenberg. It is so informative that at times it reads like nonfiction.



In Duet in Beirut a Mossad commander, Gadi, is trying to prevent an ex-operative named Ronen from carrying out a rogue mission. In a catch-22 situation worthy of Camus, Ronen had been disgraced because he had been assigned to assassinate a member of Hezbollah in Lebanon and failed. Now Gadi must prevent him from killing the same target.


Author Mishka Ben-David served in the Mossad (Israel’s intelligence agency) for 12 years, so you know the details of the story are authentic. Not only does he give the reader insight into the politics within the Mossad organization, but he also reveals what it is like to be a Mossad operative. For example, his main character Gadi is nervous when he approaches the border and he takes off his tie when he observes other airplane passengers are not wearing them so he can blend in.

Ben-David also describes the communities of Beirut in such a way that the reader feels like an insider. He says, “In a police state the path from suspicion to arrest is short, and in the extraterritorial Hezbollah area the path from suspicion to being kidnapped or murdered is even shorter.”

In fact, the book has quite a few lines that are memorable. My favorite quote from the book is on page 263:

“He lacked the ability to continue living in that dark, deceptive, treacherous world in which you can never really know what is good and what is evil, in which the permissible is forbidden and the forbidden permitted.”

Doesn’t that eloquently capture the uncertainty of being an operative?

The most interesting flaw in the book? Someone misspelled Israel in the first line of the blurb on the dust jacket as “Isreal.”

Duet in Beirut is an enlightening look at a complex situation. If you are looking for pure entertainment, this book might not be for you. If you are looking for something instructive about the Middle East, however, and how the Mossad works, you may want to give it a try.

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: The Overlook Press (May 3, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1468313002
ISBN-13: 978-1468313000




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