Author: Karen Robards
Publication: Ballantine Books (August 7, 2012)
Description: Electrifying suspense, cutting-edge psychological insight, and an unforgettably sensuous love story—these are the trademarks of Karen Robards’s sizzling novels. Now the New York Times bestselling author launches a red-hot new paranormal romantic thriller series featuring the fascinating Dr. Charlotte Stone, a serial killer expert whose extraordinary powers lead her from ecstasy to terror.
THE LAST VICTIM
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.
My Thoughts: Charlie Stone is a psychiatrist who studies serial killers. When she was seventeen, she saw the Boardwalk Killer kill a new friend and the friend's family but managed to hide and escape with her life. The Boardwalk Killer was never caught. Charlie also sees the ghosts of some people who died violent deaths which she has to keep a secret. She had two reasons to go into psychiatry. First, she would seldom be around they dying. And, second, the could learn how to survive the trauma her own brush with death left on her.
Charlie is studying serial killers at a prison in Virginia. She is focusing on Michael Allen Garland - handsome, charismatic, and convicted of killing 7 young women - when the FBI comes to her for help. It looks like the Boardwalk Killer has resurfaced and is killing again. Despite her terror at the thought of being involved, she has to agree to help. On their way out of the prison, Charlie is called to a medical emergency. Another inmate has stabbed Garland in the heart. Charlie can do little but watch him bleed out. She watches him die and then watches his spirit form above his body. Garland is back and only Charlie can see him.
Charlie is not happy to have Garland with her. She wants to send him to the light; he wants her to find a way that he can stay. In Charlie's experience, ghosts only stay for about a week before going on to the next world. So, besides being deeply involved in tracking down the new killer, she has to deal with a sexy, charismatic, serial killer ghost of her very own. I loved the byplay between Charlie and Michael. I loved that she knew he was completely "Mr. Wrong" but she wanted him so much. I loved how he tried to help her. And I loved finding out more about Michael Garland.
Meanwhile, Charlie is also developing a relationship with Tony Bartoli who is the FBI agent she should want. They have a lot more in common, including that he is alive, than she and Michael do. Unfortunately, her heart and body want Michael no matter how much her mind is saying Tony.
This was an excellent police procedural about the search for a serial killer. Watching Tony and his team work the case was very interesting. It was also an excellent, unconventional romance. Bartoli offers her a job with his team. Since Baroli doesn't mix business with pleasure, any chance of a romance between he and Charlie would end if she took the job. Charlie refuses but does agree to consult as needed. I will be looking forward to more books in this series.
Part of Charlie wanted to shriek There's a serial killer in the room with us, right now, right behind you, but she didn't because she knew it wouldn't do any good.I received this ARC from Ballantine Books via Amazon Vine. You can buy a copy here.
Kaminsky couldn't see him. Kaminsky wouldn't believe her. Kaminsky would think she had bats in her belfry, and the word would spread.
Besides, even if Kaminsky did believe her, what could she do?
Nothing, that's what. Couldn't arrest him, couldn't kill him.
With that, Charlie had a terrible epiphany: the only thing worse than a live serial killer was a dead serial killer.