Last to Die by Tess Gerritsen

Last to Die by Tess Gerritsen
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (352 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

For the second time in his short life, Teddy Clock has survived a massacre. Two years ago, he barely escaped when his entire family was slaughtered. Now, at fourteen, in a hideous echo of the past, Teddy is the lone survivor of his foster family’s mass murder. Orphaned once more, the traumatized teenager has nowhere to turn—until the Boston PD puts detective Jane Rizzoli on the case. Determined to protect this young man, Jane discovers that what seemed like a coincidence is instead just one horrifying part of a relentless killer’s merciless mission.

Jane spirits Teddy to the exclusive Evensong boarding school, a sanctuary where young victims of violent crime learn the secrets and skills of survival in a dangerous world. But even behind locked gates, and surrounded by acres of sheltering Maine wilderness, Jane fears that Evensong’s mysterious benefactors aren’t the only ones watching. When strange blood-splattered dolls are found dangling from a tree, Jane knows that her instincts are dead on. And when she meets Will Yablonski and Claire Ward, students whose tragic pasts bear a shocking resemblance to Teddy’s, it becomes chillingly clear that a circling predator has more than one victim in mind.

Joining forces with her trusted partner, medical examiner Maura Isles, Jane is determined to keep these orphans safe from harm. But an unspeakable secret dooms the children’s fate—unless Jane and Maura can finally put an end to an obsessed killer’s twisted quest.

For the second time in his fourteen years, Teddy Clock finds himself orphaned. Having survived not one, but two massacres, he wonders what it is about himself that draws such tragedy. Left with nowhere to go and no one to care for him, Detective Jane Rizzoli steps in to both solve his case and get his life back on track. What none of them suspect is that he’s not the only one. Two other children have suffered – and survived – a similar fate. Is it simply tragic coincidence or something more sinister? They might not find out until it’s too late.

I’m going to start off by saying that the mystery portion of this novel is a touch far-fetched. That said, it’s written with the same drive and intensity as all the previous novels, propelling you straight into the story without a chance to take a deep breath first. When you add in the familiar characters with this powerful need to solve the mystery and comfort the children, you forget that the actual plot is a bit over the top. Well-written and engrossing, I found myself quickly caught up in the mystery, forgetting everything else. I was rooting for these kids to get another chance at a normal life with friends and loved ones like everyone else. It was the least they deserved after all they’d been through.

As much as I adored this novel, the lack of actual Rizzoli and Isles points of view was a bit disappointing. While I enjoyed the way the teens bonded together and tried to take things into their own hands, at times I missed Jane’s smart mouth and Barry Frost’s constant damper on Rizzoli’s temper. But overall, it was an enjoyable and engaging story. The author is a master at twists and turns, surprising you even when you think you’ve got it all figured out. I highly recommend this novel and this entire series to anyone who likes a consuming, action-packed thriller of a mystery.

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