The Last Victim

Author: Karen Robards

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Release Date: August 7, 2012

Blue Ribbon Rating: 5 RR

Format: PRINT

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Fifteen years ago, Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Stone witnessed the murder of her best friend Holly’s mother. Spending the night with Holly, the two girls had snuck out, meeting boys and consuming alcohol. Upon sneaking back into the house, Charlie had been deathly sick and headed for the bathroom. That is where she was when she heard the first scream. She had attributed it to Holly’s brothers playing…that is until the next fear-filled, abruptly cut-off scream left the very air pulsating with menace. Seeing Holly bound and gagged, Charlie managed to escape for help, but not before seeing the killer slice the throat of Holly’s mom.

Now she is Dr. Charlotte Stone, a psychiatrist with a virtually nonexistent social life. The most gorgeous guy she has come in contact with in some time is a convicted serial killer. However, she is quickly gaining national renown for her work in studying serial killers and the Department of Justice is funding her research. Charlie is dealing with her own Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from her past by objectifying the source of fear while keeping it at a safe distance. So she is terrified when the FBI approaches her, asking her to help with a serial killer who is on the loose. A seventeen-year-old girl, Bayley Evans, has been abducted after her family was killed…the third such family to be hit in less than two months. In the two previous cases, the missing girls had been found dead a week after the death of their families. This was also the same method of operation that was used by the killer who attacked Holly’s family. That time Holly had been the missing girl. HHer body, like the other five girls he had abducted after killing their families, had shown up a week later under the boardwalks on the Atlantic coast, which had the media dubbing him the Boardwalk Killer. It was imperative that they find the serial killer, hopefully to save Bayley and stop the killer before he strikes again. But Charlie does not know if she can take seeing the scene of the crime and bringing back all of those memories. However, it has been fifteen years. Could this be the Boardwalk Killer striking again after all of this time?

Before she gets a chance to give them an answer, one of her research subjects, a serial killer named Michael Garland, is stabbed and she rushes to aid him. However, as she tries to save his life, she feels the life leaving his body as a mist slowly rises from the body and coalesces into a ghost…one she can see and communicate with.  Even as she tries to avoid the ghost, she finds that the Justice Department, without her consent, has assigned her to the FBI to help with this case. Her refusal to help could cost a girl her life, but can she go through it again? Besides, when it comes to a choice of being haunted by Garland’s ghost or helping the FBI find the missing girl, she chooses the lesser of the two evils and accompanies the FBI to North Carolina.

As they investigate, a budding relationship develops between Charlie and police detective Tony Bartoli, but she finds that she has not escaped Garland after all. Coming to an agreement, Garland reluctantly helps her with the case while she agrees to try to find a way to keep him in this sphere. An attraction between them begins to develop and as she spends more time with him and watches him interact with the recent dead, she begins to suspect that he is not the serial killer that everyone thought he had been. Still, even as she is attracted to Garland, she is conflicted. She doesn’t see a future with him as he is not only a reputed serial killer, but also a ghost. Additionally, she and Tony are still exploring their attraction to each other.  Can they reach the missing girl before it is too late, and is Charlie about to lose her heart to a seductive ghost? Is this the same killer as before, or is it a copycat killer? After having her identity as a witness to the past murders broadcasted all over the television, will Charlie become THE LAST VICTIM?

A suspense-filled chiller, THE LAST VICTIM, the latest novel by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Karen Robards, will snare your attention from the very beginning, making it nearly impossible to put the book down until you discover how everything works out. Just as you think you are getting the gist of the story, some plot twist will throw you off guard again. It has been a year since Charlie has found herself able to communicate with ghosts, so she figured that she was beyond that. But then Garland appears and once more, she is able to hear and speak to a ghost. With serial killers, ghosts, abductions, the FBI, passion, a psychiatrist dealing with PTSD, an enthrallingly original plot, mystery, humor and romance, this exciting, fast-paced story is one you will not soon forget. I absolutely love this story and cannot wait for the next addition to this series. Do yourself a favor and pick up your own copy of THE LAST VICTIM. Not only is this novel rated five blue ribbons, it is a ‘recommended read.’ Do not miss it!

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Dottie

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