Friday, August 24, 2012

THE LAST VICTIM by Karen Robards

Publisher: Ballantine
Date published: August 7, 2012
ISBN 978-0345535405
Romantic Suspense, Paranormal
Reviewed by Gina
Obtained via Publisher

Fifteen year old Charlotte Stone witnesses the brutal murder of her new friend, Holly’s family. Charlotte (Charlie) runs to get help but it does not arrive in time—Holly had been kidnapped and a short time later, murdered. Now, as an adult, a noted psychiatrist specializing in analyzing serial killers, she still feels guilty for not being able to help Holly and her family. She has narrowed her life to her home and her job as a psychiatrist at the local prison. Always the professional she manages to keep an emotional distance from the incarcerated criminals.

Blond haired, blue eyed, tall, muscular and utterly hot Michael Garland is in prison because he murdered seven women.Garland is one of the serial killers Charlie is studying, seeking answers as to why they do what they do not only for the population at large but to maybe, eventually, find some peace for herself. Despite Garland’s best efforts he is unable to break through Charlie’s defenses. Always on guard, especially with the seductively gorgeous inmate, Charlie keeps him at arm’s length.

Called away from a session with Garland in answer to a summons from the FBI Charlie is confronted with her past—another family has been killed and another young woman kidnapped—just like Holly. The FBI wants her on the case because she’s the expert on serial killers and it looks like the man who took Holly is back. Before Charlie can answer she’s called out on a medical emergency—Garland has been stabbed. She hurries to help but Garland’s wound is fatal—or is it?

LAST VICTIM was my first Karen Robards read—it is definitely not my last.I picked up this book to read and read it straight through in one day. Every free minute during the day I dug into the story and sat up late at night (or early into the morning) reading it, hanging on to every word. As I read the last page I was a tad annoyed with myself because it meant the book was over but the characters are going to linger for a long time.

Charlie is a marvelously complex character, both tough as a psychiatrist and vulnerable as a crime victim.She is intelligent, has a great sense of humor that comes out in her reactions, particularly around Garland, sensitive and caring about the characters that die. She fluctuates between accepting her psychic ability and psychoanalyzing herself at her reactions to Garland in a realistic manner, not all that different of how we ourselves react when our mundane work-based reality brushes against our private lives. Her metamorphosis in her feelings and reactions to Garland are subtly done and when the reality of her emotions comes to the fore I had to stop and sit with those feelings myself.

Garland is a terrific character as well—equally complex in his emotions and reactions. He is sensitive and brutal, he has depth that he hides behind a very sexy persona. He has his secrets that will hopefully be revealed in future books.

Tony is that basic nice guy next door that you keep telling yourself you need to be with but that bad boy up the street, aka Garland, just settles in.

I was kept guessing until the very end as to just who was behind the murders and even then it was so well done I had to stop for a moment and say “wow”.

As sad as I was that the story ended, I was thrilled when I checked out the back blurb and it looks like this will be a series. I certainly hope so.

And Michael Garland….if you’re listening, really, you can haunt me any time.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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