Review – Last to Die by Arlene Hunt

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The Blurb

He watches, he waits, he kills…

When Jessie Conway survives a horrific mass high school shooting, in the aftermath she finds herself thrust into the media spotlight, drawing all kinds of attention.  but some of it is the wrong kind. 

Caleb Switch, a sadistic serial killer, has been watching her every move.  A skilled hunter, he likes his victims to be a challenge.  Jessie is strong, fearless, a survivor, and now…she is his ultimate prey. 

As Caleb picks off his current victims one by one, chasing, killing and butchering them with his crossbow, he’s closing in on Jessie…but will Jessie defy the odds and escape with her life?  Or will she be Caleb’s final sacrifice…

My Review

Last to Die is a multi-layered psychological thriller that plays on your fears of the darker aspects of American society.

The book begins with Jessie Conway’s survival of a high school shooting. An unusual way to start the book, I thought, as it is not the main premise of the story, however, it becomes an integral part of what ultimately happens to Jessie. The shooting and the subsequent actions around it cause a knock on effect as the media coverage and pursuit of a story brings her to killer Caleb Switch’s attention and impacts on the police’s attitude towards her and how much they are willing to help.

Arlene, through the discussions her characters have, explores the inevitable question of why these shootings happen, covering the lack of moral guidance, growing up in a society in which material possessions are everything, the media and a lack of religion and belief in God. She also describes Jessie’s grief and emotions about the event perfectly, and effectively puts you in Jessie’s shoes.

‘You’re dolling yourself up while your friends lie rotting in the earth, while parents are crying over their injured babies, while children are learning how to be people again’

As a true crime fan, I loved Arlene’s portrayal of Caleb Switch. She writes his parts in a cold manner that reflects his sociopathic personality. He is clever, conniving, calculating and a master manipulator – everything I want in a killer. Reminiscent of Ted Bundy, he knows exactly how to act and what to do to disarm his victims and lull them into a false sense of trust. Brilliantly written, I wonder if Arlene had researched serial killers and sociopath personality traits.

‘He thought of them and the many like them, drifting through life with a big bullseye painted on their backs. If they were lucky, the predator was not looking as they drifted by. If not…well, if not there were people like him.’

Jessie, however, is not his usual vulnerable victim living on the fringes of society and I had no idea how this would end. Has Caleb finally become too cocky and arrogant, which will be his inevitable downfall? Or will Jessie not have the strength of will given what has happened to her to survive?

For me the most enjoyable part of this book was the whole tense build up to what was inevitably coming. That feeling of being an observer to what is going on while the main character is oblivious, culminating in the inevitable outcome was chilling and creepy.

A great thriller that is extremely well written and will keep you on the edge of your seat while giving you food for thought. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Arlene Hunt, Bookouture and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Published on 24 June 2016 by Bookouture.

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