Fresh Meat: The Last Victim by Karen Robards

The Last Victim by Karen Robards
The Last Victim by Karen Robards
The Last Victim by Karen Robards is the first Charlie Stone paranormal romantic suspense thriller (available August 7, 2012).

I shouldn’t like this book. If someone had told me in advance what it would be about, I wouldn’t have requested the ARC for review. But as it turns out, I am very glad I did. Here’s the thing: I am bored with serial killers and the inevitable torture porn scenes in the books about them, I’ve never cared for paranormal mysteries or romances, and I have no patience with love triangles. But The Last Victim goes to show that almost anything done well enough can defy expectations.

Charlie Stone does her best to lead a normal life, though it’s not easy. Seeing dead people—or their ghosts, anyway—makes her nauseous, and one never knows where they might turn up. So she hides herself in her work as a forensic psychiatrist, studying serial killers like the Boardwalk Killer who murdered her best friend when Charlie was a teen. A murder Charlie witnessed.

One day, as she’s doing her thing—the interview thing, not the ghost thing—in a prison, talking to a super-sexy serial killer named Garland, some feds show up to tell her that the Boardwalk Killer has apparently returned and they want her help to nail him.

And then predictability flies out the window. Garland is murdered by another inmate in front of Charlie, which is bad enough, but then his ghost refuses to leave her alone. And unlike the flesh-and-blood Garland, ghostly Garland can follow Charlie anywhere. Including into her shower.

“Doc, you gotta help me,” said Garland’s voice behind her.

Charlie practically jumped out of her skin. Whirling, clutching the sink for support, she found him standing in front of the toilet, looking every bit as tall and muscular and solid as he had when he was alive. The shackles were gone; so was the blood. His prison jumpsuit was zipped to about halfway up his chest, and he balanced on the balls of his feet like a man poised to run. There was something dark and hunted in his eyes as they fastened on her.

“You got to fix me. Put me back together. Quick.”

Charlie took a deep breath. God, she hated this. He was dead, and yet here he stood, crammed with her in a tiny, should-be-private bathroom, minus his restraints, which made him scary as hell, still possessing enough physicality to trap her against the sink, pinning her with his eyes, talking to her in that honeyed southern drawl, which fortunately she knew better than to trust one inch. A truthless killer in life, she doubted he’d changed any in death. And because she was the victim of some hideous cosmic trick, she had no way to get away from him.

This whole I-see-dead-people thing really sucks.

“I can’t put you back together,” she spoke as calmly and reasonably as she could. “I can’t fix you. You’re dead. You should be able to see a white light. Go toward the light.”

His brows snapped together. He looked at her with disbelief. “What are you, the fucking ghost whisperer? ‘Go toward the light’ is the best you can do?”

For Garland, however, there is no light. Whatever waits for him is grimmer, and he wants no part of it. He does want Charlie. And, despite the very attractive, kind, and alive FBI agent with whom she begins to flirt, Charlie wants Garland, too. Not that she is unaware of just how stupid her fascination with a ghost is.

Diagnosis: You are one screwed up chick.

Diagnosis of the diagnosis: Very professional.

There is a heaping helping of humor in this book and the dark parts are not very dark. For a serial killer book, there is remarkably little violence. Charlie’s internal monologues are entertaining, and her interactions with Garland are, at times, laugh-out-loud funny.

See more coverage of new releases in our Fresh Meat series.

Laura K. Curtis lives in Westchester, N.Y., with her husband and two madcap Irish Terriers who’ve taught her how easily love can co-exist with the desire to kill. She blogs at Women of Mystery and maintains an online store at TorchSongs GlassWorks. She can also be found on Twitter and poking her nose into all sorts of trouble in various spots around the web.

Read all posts by Laura K. Curtis on Criminal Element.



  1. Allison Brennan

    My mom is a big Karen Robards fan. She’s read everything she’s written. I have a couple in my TBR piles (yes, plural. PileSSSSS)

  2. Laura K. Curtis

    I think I may have mentioned at Thrillerfest that I suspect your mother and I have very similar taste!

  3. Deborah Lacy

    I feel the same way about serial killers, romance and paranormal, but you’ve convinced me to try this one.

  4. Jennifer Proffitt

    Laura, I can’t wait to read this book. It’s staring at me but I’m trying to be good and finish the books I actually have to review before starting this one. Can’t wait, especially after reading this!

  5. Mills&Boons

    I am waiting foe more ….

    Mills&boons Romantic novels novels series welcomes you to Romantic novels takes you in depth of Love & Romance life.

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