The Last – Hanna Jameson
An apocalyptic end of the world story with an additional murder mystery wrapped up in it? Well, colour me interested.
This reminded me of The Shining crossed with High Rise crossed with Station Eleven and And Then there were None. It makes for an interesting post-apocalyptic end of the world read.
Breaking: Nuclear weapon detonates over Washington Breaking: London hit, thousands feared dead Breaking: Munich and Scotland hit. World leaders call for calm
Historian Jon Keller is on a trip to Switzerland when the world ends. As the lights go out on civilization, he wishes he had a way of knowing whether his wife, Nadia and their two daughters are still alive. More than anything, Jon wishes he hadn’t ignored Nadia’s last message.
Twenty people remain in Jon’s hotel. Far from the nearest city and walled in by towering trees, they wait, they survive. Then one day, the body of a young girl is found. It’s clear she has been murdered. Which means that someone in the hotel is a killer. As paranoia descends, Jon decides to investigate. But how far is he willing to go in pursuit of justice? And what kind of justice can he hope for, when society as he knows it no longer exists?
I don’t know what it was about The Last that made me request it when I saw an ARC available for review. I don’t know if it was the minimalist cover or the idea of the fall out of nuclear war that interested me, but I am glad that I selected it because this was a RIDE.
The story is narrated by Jon, a historian before the world as he knew it ended. He had been in Switzerland for a conference at the hotel and when the news broke, he knew there would be no way of getting home safely so he thought he’d wait it out in the hope that someone would come save them… I guess he was taking his survival tips from Shaun of the Dead…
When it transpires that everyone at the hotel is all that’s left of humanity, he decides to document everything, just in case. He and some of the other survivors head to the roof to check the water situation and discover the body of a child who had been killed and thrown into a water tank. Jon decides he has to solve this mystery and is convinced that her killer remains in the hotel, and so, the murder mystery element of the story begins. The isolation of this group in the remote hotel, which it turns out has had lots of mysterious deaths on site over the years created so much tension – this would make an excellent movie, the atmosphere of the creepy hotel, the rural location and the back drop of nuclear fall out was amazing. It was kind of unsettling, especially with how plausable nuclear war could be with the current politcal climate. It felt very claustrophobic with the majority of the action happening in one place, but I raced through it.
While you might look at this and decide it’s a tad scary – don’t worry it isn’t, it is creepy but the horror comes from human panic rather than anything else. Actually… Now I think about it, humans are scarier than monsters. You also never find out who it is that does the nuclear bombing, so the paranoia is real.
Jon was a great narrator, I love me an unreliable narrator! His very matter of fact journal like entries always were just enough to get my imagination running and I especially liked how Hanna Jameson managed to give a cheeky nod to the meme about how male writers describe women!
Anyway, this was good fun!