Always in search of a new great mystery/thriller that will keep me reading through the late night hours, I discovered The Last Child by John Hart on the Edgar Awards website. John Hart's first novel was nominated for Best First Novel, his second won the Edgar for Best Novel, and his third one, The Last Child, is a 2010 nominee for Best Novel.
In The Last Child, Alyssa, a 12 year old girl from a small, rural North Carolina town goes missing on her way home from the library. The story begins a year after her disappearance when the reader is introduced to her lonely twin brother, Johnny. Johnny feels he is on his own in his desperate search to find his sister and her abductors. His father abandoned the family after his daughter disappeared while his mother, in her desperation to dispel her pain, has sunk into a life of drugs, alcohol, and an abusive relationship with a wealthy and powerful man in town. Johnny is unyielding in his pursuit to find Alyssa, strongly holding onto the belief that she may still be found alive. He has one frail, but faithful friend, Jack, who often accompanies him on his dangerous searches through the seedier parts of town.
The lead detective, Clyde Hunt, takes a deep interest in helping Johnny and his mother while trying to keep his own messed-up family life and career together. His worry over Johnny and his mother and his lack of time spent at home is alienating his own son.
I recommend The Last Child for all readers. If you enjoy a book written by an author who writes in a terrific literary style and who creates within the reader a feeling of strong emotional ties to his characters, then I think you will like this book. There a lot of twists and turns to this story that keeps one guessing to the very end. I highly recommend all of John Hart's books.