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  • Caitlyn Lynch

Book Review: Her Last Move by John Marrs

A police procedural, Her Last Move follows a series of killings in London which appear, on the surface, to be unrelated. A witness to the first death, when DS Becca Vincent notices the first and second victims share a distinctive tattoo, she’s certain this will be the career break she needs to move up in her job. Working with ‘super-recogniser’ Joe Russell, she has to battle caring for her special-needs daughter with the demands of the toughest case of her career.

The police procedural stuff about this book was really good, and Becca was very real and relatable through her relationships with Maisie and her mother. Occasional glimpses into the killer’s PoV were chilling, but the author was careful not to give too much away about his motives before the big reveal.

The book is well edited, coherent in timeline, and the characters feel real.

For all that, I absolutely hated it, and to tell you why, I’m afraid I’m going to have to spoiler. Don’t read on if you don’t want to know what happens.

Killing off one of the major protagonists is a risky move in any book. Killing off Becca, the major female protagonist, when you’d spent the whole book making us empathize with her? Terrible, terrible idea, and completely unnecessary. Having her attacked but surviving would have given her colleagues just as much motivation to go after the killer. Instead this falls into the horrible trope of the story suddenly becoming all about the guilt of the male colleague, when it was always Becca’s story.

This isn’t a unique and ingenious plot twist. It’s lazy, sloppy writing and in this case, it took away Becca’s agency along with her life, enabled the killer to complete his mission almost to the last detail, and made the last couple of chapters all about Joe Russell’s manpain.

Why is it always male authors who do this, and why is it always female protagonists who get killed off? I don’t really care about the reason. I’d just like it to STOP NOW please, and because I was frankly disgusted with the way the book turned out, despite all the excellent things about it, I’m afraid it’s getting one star from me.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.

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