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March 2005

Last Witness - Jilianne Hoffman

The Last Witness follows on from Retribution, which sees CJ Townsend, Assistant State Attorney, put sociopath William Bantling on death row. Bantling was found guilty of being Cupid, a brutal serial killer who murdered eleven women.

Two years on, three police are found mutilated and murdered whilst on patrol, in what first appears to be a motiveless crime.

CJ Townsend is terrified when it becomes known that the three murdered policemen all worked on the Cupid investigation. She shared a secret, a secret that only she now knows as the others have taken it to their graves. She knows that she can never share this secret, but also knows that by doing this she will be the last witness and therefore the next to die.


Last Witness catches up with CJ Townsend, the Assistant State Attorney for Florida two years on from the successful conviction of William Bantling, a rapist who was fitted up for a series of murders of local women. CJ helped prosecute Bantling, knowing that legally her case was not strong enough to win, without lying. But after finding out Bantling was the man who brutally raped her some years before, she went ahead with the prosecution and won.

The pace of this book is the same as Retribution, and the reader is kept guessing to the end as to who is killing the police.

CJ is unable to ask for help as to do so would implicate her in the wrongful conviction of Bantling.

This book keeps you guessing to the end as to who the killer is, and their motives and had a highly charged ending.

The end of the book has left room for CJ to return and I think the next book from Jilliane Hoffman will continue the story.

Reviewed by HA

CrimeSquad Rating

Alone - Lisa Gardiner

Bobby Dodge, a State Trooper, is called to a hostage situation where a husband is threatening his wife and child with a gun. He finds that he has to make a life and death decision, to decide if the man will shoot his wife and child, of whether Bobby should shoot him first.

The wife is Catherine Gagnon and a quarter of a century ago when she was just a child she was abducted from close to her home and buried underground where she endured a month long nightmare of abuse.

Her father in law, powerful Judge Gagnon, blames Catherine for the death of his son, and for the unexplained illnesses that keep her son returning to hospital/

After serving time in solitary confinement for a terrible crime, he is now free to seek his revenge.

Catherine and Bobby are brought together, both needing each other's help, but neither sure who they can trust. A killer is out there, and no one is above suspicion.


Another excellent thriller from Lisa Gardiner introduces more new, well-defined characters and an unusual plot. This was a page turner from the first line and has Bobby Dodge in the main role, trying to solve a present day crime, whilst also battling with demons from his past.

Catherine Gagnon is the main female character, and throughout the book you are never really sure of her motives or reasons for her actions, which adds to the suspense.

The characters seem real, and because of this you feel interested in them. I was engrossed from start to finish, and although the end of the book doesn't have a final, 'he solved the mystery' conclusion, I don't feel as though I had been robbed.

This is a definite must read for anyone who has read Lisa Gardiner before, or for those who want an introduction to her work.

Reviewed by HA

CrimeSquad Rating

The Broker - John Grisham

Joel Blackman has served 6 years of a 20 year prison sentence when he receives a Presidential pardon from the soon to be ex-President.

Joel is spirited out of the country to Italy where he is to start a new life, with a new name.

Unsure as to why he has been pardoned, and why he was taken to Italy, he is suspicious of those around him and their motives.

When he finally thinks he has found out the reason for his pardon, will it be too late to him to run?


Leaving the setting of the courtroom behind, Grisham still keeps the element of suspense.

Joel Blackman was a very successful Broker in Washington when a deal went bad, and to survive he pleaded guilty to a crime, so he could go to prison where he would be protected.

Six years on he is released and the story follows him to Italy where under his new identity he becomes Marco.

Joel/Marco realises there must be a reason and until he knows this, he knows he is in danger. But with no money and no passport, surviving on his own is virtually impossible. But also, who does he trust?

As with most of the Grisham books, this story has a fast pace and keeps you guessing. The ending I felt was similar to that of The Firm, where there is no formal conclusion to the story, although no questions are left unanswered.

All in all, another good read.

Reviewed by HA

CrimeSquad Rating