Crime & Beyond Wiki

Dave was our gracious host Monday night and provided not only a great environment for us to relax and discuss the book, but pitchers of Sangria & Mint Juleps Mojitos. Thanks Dave! I have to admit, I’m really liking our offsite meetings, it’s going to be so institutional to return to the library. But since a lot of us should be institutionalized, maybe that’s appropriate.

We had a kind of monumental event last night too. All of us liked the book, some even loved it, and we STILL had a great discussion. I always say that we get the best discussion when people don’t like the book, but this one was an exception. In case you’ve got your head in the sand, we discussed John Hart’s The Last Child.

Many of us have read at least one other John Hart book (some of us everything he’s ever written – you know who you are Jeff & Sharon…and me). They are all stand alones and all very, very good. Although Jeff and Sharon stand by The King of Lies, my vote is for Down River. He’s won 2 Edgar awards for best novel (may I point out that one was for Down River and NOT King of Lies) In all fairness, I think KOL was nominated for best first novel, but just didn’t win. He is also the only author in history to win the Edgar for consecutive novels. He’s been on the NY Times bestseller list for all of his books up to Iron House, and that may have made it, but the author’s bio was written when it first came out. So, as I have said many times, he’s the best author no one has ever heard of. He’s new to the game, as Jeff points out, which could be part of it. The good thing about that is that he’s got a lot more books in him and we can look forward to more entertainment, even if it is only one per year, after all he’s no James Patterson – thank god.

I think the book got more consecutive scores of 9 than any of the books we’ve read this year. I even heard some people say the only reason they gave it a 9 was because they liked one of his other books even more - probably figuring that if that favorite was a 10, this must not merit quite that high. I wonder what we would have given it had we not compared it to others of his.

We started a new tradition in the club, and decided to name the character we most wanted to slap. It was a no brainer, and I really didn’t even bring it to a vote. When we went around the room to say if we liked the book and what our score was, so many people commented on how weak Katherine was (Johnny’s mother) that I knew we had a winner, or is it loser? I think Hunt would have gotten the creepiest character award if we had one. I think the word stalker came up several times.

Some of the positive comments about the book were the great characters and the author’s superb ability to tell a story. We loved Levi Freemantle’s part and thought he was described so well that we could picture him (although we had different pictures in our heads). Judy pointed out that it would have been physically impossible for him to live through the stick in the side injury, but most of us insisted that because of his size and strength, we’re sure he could pull it off.

I loved how the author sprinkled in information that was pertinent to the story, but then made you later think that it might also lead somewhere else. For example, mentioning that Uncle Steve drove a van as a matter of fact when Johnny was staying with him, which made me think later (when Jack said that someone with a van abducted Johnny’s sister) that maybe it was Steve. They were red herrings, but not blatant things thrown in just for the purpose of deceiving the reader.

We did have a few different answers as far as who the “Last Child” was. Was it Freemantle’s daughter, Sofia? Johnny? His sister? I guess we’ll never know, unless we can convince John Hart to come to our book club. Kudos to him for entertaining us all so much, and giving us so much to talk about.

Next month we will be reading Laura Lippman’s The Most Dangerous Thing. There are a few copies available at the library, just ask a librarian. I will lead and Janice is set to bring snacks. We will meet at Kim’s house, directions will be sent later.