Review: Last Ferry Home by Kent Harrington

Last Ferry Home by Kent Harrington is a riveting novel of grief, obsession, recovery, and passion, as well as a gripping portrait of a man torn apart by loss but looking for something, anyone, to believe in.

In Last Ferry Home, Kent Harrington introduces an intriguing protagonist in the form of PTSD-afflicted SFPD homicide detective and Afghanistan vet Michael O’Higgins. It’s been 18 months since his wife died in a boating accident, and O’Higgins is desperate to get his life back on track and reconnect with his 16-year-old daughter, Rebecca. Therapy has helped, but he still struggles on a daily basis.

His sister was the one who suggested he get therapy. She’d stopped by the house one morning and rang the bell while he’d been asleep. He was dreaming about the day of the accident, as he did every time he slept. The dream was always the same, with little variation, but in the dreamscape he was always unaware of what was to come. That was the irony. That was why he liked to sleep and dream. It was only then that he felt normal.

During the day, he felt great tension and fear: fear that he would kill himself, and fear that he would live another minute more. It was fear of both. Life was a torture of minutes and recollections and long, empty days of driving or walking. He’d become a “Meanderthal,” a word he’d coined to describe the desire to peregrinate aimlessly on foot, another symptom of his mental turmoil.

Although the pain of his wife’s death hasn’t lessened, he feels like he’s ready to get back to work and insists on getting back with his former partner, Marvin. His first case back on the job is a doozy: in the ritzy Pacific Heights area, two people—Rishi Chaundhry and his children’s beautiful young nanny, Bharti Kumar—have been brutally stabbed to death. O’Higgins and Marvin soon find out that Rishi’s father, Nirad, is one of the wealthiest men in India, and his wife, Asha, is one of the most beautiful women O’Higgins has ever seen. Shockingly, he met the family on a ferry a few weeks earlier and found them to be charming and kind. Suddenly, the Indian consulate is swooping in, Asha is in the hospital—hysterical—and they’re denying access to their two young daughters.

Eventually, the duo discovers that Nirad has connections to the US government, and they’ll do just about anything to protect their asset. But O’Higgins isn’t about to give up, even if a growing attraction to Asha threatens to cloud his judgment.

He had a strange desire to tell Asha he would protect her. He wanted to be in her presence, it might be as simple as that. Did he want to make love to her? Probably.

What was it about her, Asha Chaundhry, that was pulling at him? He didn’t know, and he couldn’t explain it. But he felt it. It would be palliative, like the no-strings sex he’d had with Madrone. Only, unlike sex-ecstasy, with an end to its grip, this feeling was incoherent, and not exactly physical, although it felt physical as well. It was sense of merging, of being overwhelmed by some force that was greater than his selfhood. It seemed to have no end. He’d felt it since the moment he’d first seen Asha on the ferry, and it was only getting more powerful. The murders were only circumstantial to it.

In spite of a few bits of awkward dialogue, this is a fast-paced read by a pro who most certainly knows his way around noir. Hopefully, we’ll see more books featuring the fascinating and complicated Michael O’Higgins.


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Kristin Centorcelli reviews books at, loves a good mystery, and is a huge fan of boxed wine. You can also follow her at @mybookishways.

Read all posts by Kristin Centorcelli for Criminal Element.


  1. Fred

    Kent has an extensive vocabulary and tries to use it all. The story and the characters are interesting and compelling, but they are surrounded by way too much verbiage making it hard to really get into the story. I struggled to get through the book and will most likely not try to follow M O’Higgins into his next story.

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