Review: The Last Victim by Karen Robards

 

Title: The Last Victim

Author: Karen Robards

Published: Random House August 2012

Synopsis: Dr. Charlotte Stone sees what others do not. A sought-after expert in criminal pathology, Charlie regularly sits face-to-face with madmen. Obsessed with learning what makes human monsters commit terrible crimes, Charlie desires little else from life—no doubt because when she was sixteen, she herself survived a serial killer’s bloodbath: A man butchered the family of Charlie’s best friend, Holly, then left the girl’s body on a seaside boardwalk one week later.
Because of the information Charlie gave police, the Boardwalk Killer went underground. She kept to herself her eerie postmortem visions of Holly and her mother. And even years later, knowing her contact with ghosts might undermine her credibility as a psychological expert, Charlie tells no one about the visits she gets from the spirit world. Now all-too-handsome FBI agent Tony Bartoli is telling Charlie that a teenage girl is missing, her family slaughtered. Bartoli suspects that after fifteen years, the Boardwalk Killer—or a sick copycat with his M.O.—is back. Time is running short for an innocent, kidnapped girl, and Bartoli pleads for Charlie’s help. This is the one case Charlie shouldn’t go near. But she also knows that she may be the one person in the world who can stop this vicious killer. For Charlie—whose good looks disguise a world of hurt, vulnerability, and potent psychic gifts—a frantic hunt for a madman soon becomes a complex test of cunning, passions, and secrets. Aiding Dr. Stone on her quest to catch a madman is a ghostly presence with bad intentions: the fiery spirit of seductive bad boy Michael Garland who refuses to be ignored, though in his cat and mouse game they may both lose their hearts. Dr. Charlotte Stone sees what others do not. And she sees the Boardwalk Killer coming for her. Read an Excerpt

Status: Read on August 04, 2012 {Courtesy Random House/NetGalley}

My Thoughts:

I jumped at the chance to read the first book in Karen Robard’s newest series with its intriguing premise. Dr Charlie Stone studies serial killers, the motivation her own narrow escape from the Boardwalk Killer as a teenager. It has been 15 years since that terrible night but it seems the Boardwalk Killer, or a copycat, has surfaced and the FBI need Charlie’s help if they hope to save his latest victim. Using her expertise in profiling, and her hidden ability to see the spirits of the newly dead, Charlie assists the FBI team to piece together the clues that may end up leading her right into her worst nightmare.

I have no way of justifying my assessment of this novel without possibly revealing a spoiler related to the romantic element of the story, so read on at your own risk…

There was a lot that I enjoyed about this novel but within the first few pages when Dr Charlie Stone describes a serial killer, Michael Garland, sitting across from her during a clinical assessment, as ‘hot’ I was taken aback. Despite being jarred by what seemed to me to be a totally inappropriate descriptor, I dismissed it and kept reading. A few pages later and Garland is stabbed as he returns to his cell and despite her best efforts, Charlie is unable to save him. While I admired Charlie’s determined effort to save Garland despite his obvious fatal wound, I was a bit disturbed by the depth of her pity for a man convicted of murdering seven women as she witnesses his spirit being pulled into a purple mist, but again I chose to brush it aside. Yet from there the relationship between Charlie and Garland took a path I was even less comfortable with as Garland’s spirit attaches itself to her. Between Charlie’s repeated admiration of the dead man’s physique, charm and her inexplicable sympathy for him I was incredulous, however I held on, thinking that we would discover that in fact Garland wasn’t responsible for the murders after all, he was wrongly accused or framed or something. Garland certainly denies his guilt, but the lack of ‘the light’ and the presence of the ‘screaming mist’ seems to at least confirm the man has done something unsavoury and by the end of the novel there is no evidence that Garland was anything but a serial killer, abusive childhood non withstanding.
I just couldn’t deal with this relationship, especially when it becomes sexually intimate, which I thought was wrong on so many levels. Even if the author reveals in later books of the series that Garland is innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted, it will be too late for me.

It’s a shame because there were other elements of the story I enjoyed yet I can’t get past the romantic relationship and I can’t recommend The Last Victim for that very reason, though others seem happy to overlook it, given its average 4 star rating on Goodreads. It’s not for me though, you will have to make up your own mind.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. April
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 07:44:52

    Wow that sounds bizarre. I’m almost curious to read this one for myself but I have enough books to read as it is. Thanks for the review! :)

    Reply

  2. Tea Time with Marce
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 09:13:34

    Hmmm you know I love my serial killer books but to sleep with one knowing, hmmm, far more than strange. I am unsure if it will sway me as much as you but something to keep in mind for sure.

    Reply

  3. 1girl2manybooks
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 11:03:37

    I have a Karen Robards novel sitting on my shelf that I haven’t gotten around to reading yet. This one sounds…weird. I think I’d have felt the same way as you did!

    Reply

  4. Trackback: Review: The Last Victim by Karen Robards | Smexy Books
  5. Mandy
    Sep 12, 2012 @ 02:04:26

    Read the book and loved it. Great story

    Reply

  6. Fern Joyce
    Oct 28, 2012 @ 13:50:46

    This was one of the best books I have read in a long time. Just couldn’t put it down and amd looking forward to the next one in the Charlotte Stone series. Any idea when that will be?

    Reply

  7. Trackback: 2012: #42 – The Last Victim (Karen Robards)
  8. CN
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 04:46:13

    I just finished this book and I thought It was fantastic. I can’t wait to get more Garland and Stone.

    Reply

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