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Last Shot    by Gregg Hurwitz order for
Last Shot
by Gregg Hurwitz
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

U.S. Marshal Tim Rackley is about to confront his most challenging case. He will need to call upon everything in his vast repertoire of instincts and abilities, including his training and experience in the past as an Army Ranger and Special Ops warfare specialist.

Here is Rackley's challenge: Walker Jameson, a former Recon Marine has just made a boldly imaginative escape from one of California's most unpleasant prisons, Terminal Island; now, with a single-minded determination, cold-blooded ruthlessness, and explosive resourcefulness that mean trouble for anyone who gets in his way, Jameson is on a relentless mission to find out who was responsible for his sister's recent death.

Jameson also wants to find out why his young nephew is unable to receive the necessary medical treatment for a life-threatening disease (even though Jameson's sister had apparently made all the necessary arrangements for the treatment).

So, with little more than a three-word clue to guide him - 'the left side' - Jameson methodically tracks down some of the answers he is looking for, and then - when he gets those answers - he begins imposing his mercilessly violent and fiendishly lethal punishments upon everyone involved.

As Rackley and his partner George 'Bear' Jowalski begin their investigation and fast-paced pursuit, they start to make some puzzling discoveries. Jameson - wherever he might now be in his unstoppable odyssey of murderous revenge - seems to be focusing on (and closing in upon) the owners and managers of Beacon-Kagan, a leading pharmaceutical company.

Rackley and Jowalski need to find out the connections between Jameson's sister and Beacon-Kagan, and - if they move quickly enough - they at first remain confident that they might be able to stop Jameson. But Jameson - a purpose-driven man whose lethal skills and combat-tested cunning may be superior to Rackley's - seems always to be at least one step ahead of the U.S. Marshals, and the dead bodies that Jameson is leaving behind him mean that Rackley and Jowalski may be running out of time.

Last Shot, the latest in Gregg Hurwitz's impressive series of seven successful novels, proves why so many people are saying so many good things about this author's work.

'Thriller writing at its best,' says Tess Gerritsen.
'An author who redefines thriller,' says Ridley Pearson.
'Pure nail-biting, stay-up-all-night suspense,' says Sue Grafton.
'Hurwitz knows how to write a thriller!' says Michael Connelly

As a 21st morality tale in which Good (in unexpected disguises) vanquishes Evil (in unexpected sectors of society), Last Shot has all the properly balanced ingredients of a top-notch thriller: Richly detailed characterizations, meticulously imaginative plotting, provocative contemporary issues, plenty of surprises, and perfectly paced pulse-pounding excitement.

So, readers, I would close by simply urging you to follow the advice of Janet Evanovich (with which I wholeheartedly agree):

'If you haven't discovered Gregg Hurwitz yet, get to a bookstore!'

2nd Review by Hilary Williamson:

U.S. Marshal Tim Rackley has faced heartwrenching, soul-destroying cases in the pages of his creator's intoxicating thrillers - he and his tough Deputy wife Andrea Dray coped (barely) with their small daughter's murder in The Kill Clause; Tim infiltrated and took down a mind-controlling cult in The Program; and he and a pregnant Andrea faced the violent world of biker gangs in Troubleshooter.

Now, in the Last Shot - as engrossing and brilliantly plotted as the prior episodes in this excellent series - Rackley has to second guess a fugitive who could be his mirror image - smudged slightly darker, and with more recent combat experience, but with a remarkably similar background, and motivations that resonate with the U.S. Marshal. Former Marine Walker Jameson was close to finishing his jail term. So why did he engineer a brilliant and violent jail break, just after receiving a brief message - 'the left side'? Tim and his partner Bear follow a trail that leads to Walker's dead sister Tess, and her involvement with a pharmaceutical company on the verge of a major breakthrough that might save countless lives, including that of Tess's son Sam.

As the 'commando avenger' goes on a killing spree, imaginatively eliminating men whose lives intersected with his sister's, Tim and Bear systematically uncover Walker's motivations and work to foil his vengeance, despite a growing sympathy (even empathy in Rackley's case) for his goals. They tread closely - to their peril - on his heels, encountering colorful characters en route, from smooth corporate villains to sleazy paintball pros. Though the ending is inevitable and not altogether surprising, it leads to Tim's vanquishing his own personal demon, allowing him to come to terms with 'the vulnerability of his living child', his small son Tyler.

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