Book Review: The Four Last Things by Andrew Taylor

1257531Title: The Four Last Things (The Roth Trilogy #1)
Author: Andrew Taylor
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon, B&N, Goodreads

Little Lucy Appleyard is snatched from her child minder’s on a cold winter afternoon, and the nightmare begins. When Eddie takes her home to beautiful, child-loving Angel, he knows he’s done the right thing. But Lucy’s not like their other visitors, and unwittingly she strikes through Angel’s defences to something both vulnerable and volatile at the core.

To the outside world Lucy has disappeared into a black hole with no clues to her whereabouts… until the first grisly discovery in a London graveyard. More such finds are to follow, all at religious sites, and, in a city haunted by religion, what do these offerings signify?

All that stands now between Lucy and the final sacrifice are a CID sergeant on the verge of disgrace and a woman cleric – Lucy’s parents – but how can they hope to halt the evil forces that are gathering around their innocent daughter?

Set in the late 1990s, THE FOUR LAST THINGS explores the terrible vulnerability of children.

I have contradictory feelings toward this book. On the one hand, I enjoyed it, especially the passages where we could get into Eddie’s mind. Eddie is a disturbed individual, but the woman he lives with, Angel, who manipulates him and everyone around her, is a lot worse. It’s basically like getting to choose between two evils. I liked the set-up of that, although some passages made me want to throw up. Either way, plot-wise, this book was great. Character-wise, not that much. I’ll get into further detail later on in the review, but I’ll start by quickly sketching the plot.

Lucy’s parents don’t really get along. They barely communicate, and all of that gets a lot worse when Lucy vanishes from her caretaker’s home and the police discovers a trail of body parts belonging to young children around Lucy’s age. Lucy’s mom, Revered Sally Applegate, is one of the main characters in this novel. Her husband wanted her to quit her job the moment Lucy was born – which made me instantly dislike him – and has never quite forgiven her that she didn’t do that (in which case, I’d tell him, quit your own job and stop nagging). Either way, Sally feels guilty about abandoning Lucy, especially after the kidnapping. When the body parts found are all linked to something religious, Sally’s guilt grows overwhelming. A lot of people are set against her, being a woman cleric, and she feels this may be an act of vengeance on her personally.

Then there’s Michael, Lucy’s dad, and well, I didn’t like him from the start. He keeps secrets from Sally, secrets that could very well destroy their relationship. He nags about everything under the sun, even though he has zero reason to do so. All in all, he’s plain annoying and I wanted to slap him across the head on more than one occassion.

A lot more interesting than Sally and Michael’s ordeal however was the relationship between Eddie and Angel, and the passages told from Eddie’s POV. More interesting because, at least to me, they came across as quite unique. I’ve read a bazillion novels about couples arguing after their children disappear, and trying to find their lost child. Nothing new there. But this is the first time I’ve read a book told half from the POV of the victims and half from the POV of the villains. It was interesting to see into Eddie’s mind, to find out how his attraction toward children grew, and how he met the woman who’d become his downfall.

The end of the book was a bit disappointing. Felt like deus ex machina to me. On top of that, there are a lot of things left unsolved that I’d like to get solved, especially about Angel. She was by far the most intriguing character, albeit in a disturbing way. I hope the next book in the trilogy focuses on her as well – and I hope I can find it somewhere soon. I want to read more and find out what happens next.

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