After enjoying Hart’s Edgar-winning novel Down River, I was looking forward to reading his new book The Last Child, and I was not disappointed! Hart is an excellent storyteller, creating complex characters and a suspenseful plot. Thirteen-year-old Johnny Merrimon’s sister Alyssa disappeared a year ago, changing Johnny’s family and life forever. Johnny, convinced that his sister is alive and was abducted by one of the local child predators, continues to search for her daily by monitoring the local criminals and keeping notes on their behavior and locations. The police officer assigned to the missing child case, Detective Hunt, is also haunted by the case and keeps a close watch on Johnny and his mother. After a second child disappears, Johnny is convinced that the same person also abducted his sister. What Johnny discovers puts his life in danger. The interactions between Hunt and Johnny, Johnny’s reliance on mysticism for his strength, his friendship with a boy names Jack and the many other characters that fill this story combine to create a memorable, gripping and taut mystery that leaves the reader guessing until the end. Hart’s writing evokes a strong sense of place in the North carolina woods and swamps. I found this to be a very memorable novel, well-written and hard to put down!