Review: The Last Victim by Karen Robards

Posted August 20, 2012 by Vampbard in 3.5 stars, Mystery-Suspense Fiction, Paranormal Romance, Rating B Tags: , ,

The Last Victim
Author: Karen Robards   
Release Date: Aug. 7, 2012
Publisher: Ballantine
ISBN: 978-0345535405
Genre: Paranormal Romance / Suspense
Format(s): Hardcover (336 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher
About the book:
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.
What VampBards talking about:
The Last Victim was definitely not a predictable read!  Chock full of suspense, murder, and some freaky ghost stuff, my interest level was high throughout the story.  You know you’re hooked when there’s a self-talk monologue going through your head about where the story is headed.  You know you’re immersed when that self-talk comes out of your mouth.  I would be deeply immersed in this title.  
Dr. Charlotte Stone, a.k.a. Charlie or Doc, is our gutsy, ghost-seeing heroine.  Besides seeing the ghosts of the recently, violently deceased, she’s a psychiatrist studying serial killers in a special housing unit for some of the country’s most warped and notorious criminals.  Her current assignment has her working with prisoner, Michael Garland.  Charlie has been called upon to bring her own brand of expertise to the FBI’s investigation of the slaughter of a girl’s family and her disappearance.  Charlie, the sole survivor of the Boardwalk Killer fifteen years ago, not only can identify the killer from her past, but has the education and experience to be of great aide to the authorities working around the clock to try to find the recently missing girl before she winds up a corpse, buried beneath a boardwalk.  To make matters worse, just as the FBI were about to take her to pack some things and whisk her off to the crime scene, the current subject of her study, Garland, was murdered by a fellow inmate.  He died while Charlie was trying to save his life, and is ‘attached’ to her throughout the story.  
The FBI agents, Tony Bartoli, Kaminski and Crane, were interesting characters.  Besides providing protection and leading the investigation to catch the serial killer, I’m not quite sure what purpose they all served.  If I had to venture a guess, I’d classify them in the following manner:  Tony Bartoli, the dark, well-dressed hottie in charge of the FBI team present was probably meant to be our romantic hero.  Charlie’s love interest.  Kaminski was probably meant to provide female kinship – a girlfriend figure – as Charlie seemed utterly alone in that arena.  Crane?  Yeah, besides arguing with Kaminski, I don’t really see his purpose.  The romance vibes between Tony and Charlie were lukewarm.  They definitely had the opportunity to get busy…but Charlie didn’t let things go that far.  Tertiary characters were the spirits of the recently slain.  None of these ghosts were threatening, and did provide information that would help nab the killer.  Hopefully before another girl died.  
I am fairly certain that our ever-analytical heroine has a thing for a ghost.  Yeah.  Based on the ‘dreams’ and the inner monologue we got, extolling the virtues of a convicted serial killer that died, Charlie is hot for him.  This ‘relationship’ sort-of creeped me out for awhile.  I couldn’t wrap my head around how this was ever going to result in a ‘happily ever after’.  With the spirit of Michael Garland randomly hanging around, Charlie probably won’t be engaging in anything of a romantic nature as long as he remains tethered to her.  After all, who wants a completely hot, charismatic ghost that was a convicted serial killer in life, ticked off?  The way Charlie describes Michael, I pictured Sawyer from Lost.  With the drawl, too.  You may drool.  It’s OK.  Even though our Ghost Whisperer shrink tried to ‘vanquish’ Garland to the afterlife, that was an epic fail.  Personally, I don’t think she wanted him to leave all that much.  The part of me that likes to psycho-analyze characters thinks that Garland has mommy issues, and that Charlie represents the stable female presence he never had.  I think that is why he attached himself to her – she set limits for him, just like good parents do with their kids.  
As for the whole ‘whodunit’ thing, Ms. Robards did a great job creating interest, inserting foreshadowing as well as other literary devices to assist her reader in following the story.  There are two significant story arcs to follow, and they’re pretty unique.  Only once did I go back and re-read for clarity.  That COULD be one of those ‘just me’ things.  I’m also unconvinced that Charlie is going to find a “happily ever after” when this is all said and done.  I don’t believe for one minute that Tony is going to hang around while Charlie works out her little ghost problem.  I’m definitely in the “HEA” camp when I read a romance title.  That’s WHY I choose to read romance.  I LIKE the ‘HEA’.  Alright, Charlie was alive at the end.  I suppose that is kind-of like a ‘HEA’.  **shrug**  
Over all, Karen Robards’ novel, The Last Victim, definitely had an active plot, complete with romance, suspense, and danger.  I look forward to reading more about Charlie…and whomever she is to be romantically involved.  
VampBards Rating:
Liked it – recommend (B+)

Purchase Info:

2 responses to “Review: The Last Victim by Karen Robards

  1. I’ve read two Karen Robards books… one that I loved and one that I DNF’d. This one looks pretty decent, even with the weird ghost-love (ghosts wig me out, lol). I’ll put it on my Buy Later list, since I’m so overwhelmed by my current TBR (not that I’m complaining).