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The Last Victim

Cover of The Last Victim

The Last Victim

A Novel
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"[An] exceptional storyteller . . . Leave it to [Karen] Robards to deliver the start of a series that is distinctive and unforgettable!"--RT Book Reviews A sought-after expert in criminal...More
"[An] exceptional storyteller . . . Leave it to [Karen] Robards to deliver the start of a series that is distinctive and unforgettable!"--RT Book Reviews A sought-after expert in criminal...More
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Description-
  • "[An] exceptional storyteller . . . Leave it to [Karen] Robards to deliver the start of a series that is distinctive and unforgettable!"--RT Book Reviews

    A sought-after expert in criminal pathology, Dr. Charlotte Stone regularly sits face-to-face with madmen. At the age of sixteen, she herself survived a serial killer's bloodbath. Because of the information she gave police, the Boardwalk Killer went underground, but Charlie kept her postmortem visions of the victims to herself. Years later, to protect her credibility as a psychological expert, she tells no one about these apparitions. Now a teenage girl is missing, her family slaughtered. The Boardwalk Killer--or a sick copycat with his M.O.--is back. This is the one case Charlie knows she shouldn't go near. But she also knows that she may be the one person in the world who can stop this vicious killer, especially when she receives help from an unexpected source: The fiery spirit of a seductive bad boy who refuses to be ignored.

    "Excellent . . . This story is going to haunt you."--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    "Thrilling . . . a fun and sexy read."--Booklist

    "Tantalizing."--Library Journal

    Features a preview of the next Charlotte Stone novel, The Last Kiss Goodbye.

Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    If Charlie Stone hadn't drunk the Kool-Aid, she would have died.

    But in the random way the world sometimes works, the seventeen-year-old did drink several big tumblers full of Goofy Grape generously mixed with vodka, courtesy of her new best friend Holly Palmer. As a result, she just happened to be in the utilitarian bathroom off the Palmers' basement rec room, hugging the porcelain throne when the first scream penetrated her consciousness.

    Even muffled by floors and walls and who knew what else, it was loud and shrill and urgent enough to penetrate the haze of misery she was lost in.

    "Holly?" Charlie called, lifting her head, which felt like it weighed a ton and pounded unmercifully.

    No answer.

    Okay, her voice was weak. Probably Holly hadn't heard her. Probably the scream was nothing, Holly's little brothers fighting or something. Seeing that it was around two a.m., though, shouldn't the eleven- and thirteen-year-olds have been asleep? Charlie had no idea: she knew nothing about tweenie boys. God, she should have followed her instinct and just said no to the booze. But as the new girl in Hampton High School's senior class, Charlie hadn't felt like she was in a position to refuse. From the first day of school, when they'd found out they were sharing a locker, sweet, popular Holly had taken Charlie under her wing, introduced her around. For that, Charlie was grateful. The veteran of seven high schools in just over three years, Charlie knew from bitter experience that there were a lot more mean girls out there than nice ones.

    A late August Friday night in this small North Carolina beach town meant the movies. Four of them had gone together. The other two had moms who were reliable about picking their daughters up after. When Charlie's mom hadn't shown (typical), Holly had invited her to spend the night. They'd wound up sneaking out to meet Holly's boyfriend, Garrett--a total hottie, who had to work till midnight, which was past Holly's curfew--and go for a ride in his car. Since he'd had a friend with him--James, not quite as hot as Garrett, but still--it had actually worked out pretty well, except for the whole toxic Kool-Aid thing.

    They'd driven to the shore, plopped down in the sand, and shared the concoction Garrett had mixed for them while they talked and watched the waves.

    The good news was, Charlie might actually have gotten a bead on landing her own boyfriend. The bad news was, as soon as Garrett had dropped them off and they'd crept back down to the basement where supposedly they'd been watching TV all along, Charlie had had to rush straight to the bathroom. She'd been in there for what felt like forever, being sick as a parrot.

    She'd be lucky if Holly ever invited her over again.

    The second scream definitely did not come from one of the boys. High-pitched and shattering, it smashed through the ordinary sounds of the babbling TV and humming air-conditioning and thumping dryer in the next room like an axe through Jell-O. The fear in it was enough to make the hair stand up on the back of Charlie's neck. Until it abruptly cut off, she forgot to breathe. The ensuing silence pulsated with . . . something. Tension, maybe. An electric kind of heaviness. Shooting to her feet, she swiped her long brown hair back from her face with one hand and headed for the door. Knees weak, battling a disorienting attack of the woozies along with the worst taste ever in her mouth, she grabbed the cold-from-the-air-conditioning brass knob.

    "Teach you to ignore me . . ." The words were followed by the sharp sound of a blow. It was a man's voice, low and deep. Mr. Palmer? Had he...

About the Author-
  • Karen Robards is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of forty books and one novella. The mother of three boys, she lives in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

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    Random House Publishing Group
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