I’ve had a crush on Rick Mofina’s writing ever since I’ve read If Angels Fall, shortly after it was published. So when after the last Kate Page book published in 2016 there were no books released in 2017, I was a bit sad. Thankfully, I knew that a standalone novel would be published early 2018 and was eagerly waiting for it.
Reading the Rick Mofina books in order is a wonderful journey into the crime mystery and thriller arena. And the author’s latest novel doesn’t disappoint. At all.
Last Seen is a psychological thriller and police procedural with so many edge-of-your-seat moments that you must ensure you have several free hours before you start. I literally read it in one sitting, straight until 2 am because I couldn’t put it down. While the year is still very young, so far I would consider Last Seen as one of my best reads of 2018.
Meet the Hudson family. The father, Cal Hudson; the mother, Faith; the nine-year-old child, Gage. They live a seemingly happy suburbia life. The parents tried for a second child, but after the miscarriage, they gave up, so now Gage is their sweet and only angel. Faith is overly protective of him, while Cal tries to give him some sort of freedom.
Cal, a crime reporter, is not all that much home, which leaves Faith quite unhappy and alone. When they finally get some free time together, they take the begging Gage to the local carnival which is in town only for a little while. Gage very much wants to enter the feared Chambers of Horror. He’s even done a dare with his friends on who enters it first and gets to brag about it.
So his parents take him, and this is where things go extremely wrong. It takes all but a moment. Flashing lights, smoke, loud noises, and just for a moment Faith and Cal lose sight of their son. Each believes the son is with the other parent. When they both realize he’s nowhere to be found, police, and then the FBI get involved.
With no trace of Gage, there are lots of fingers to point, and some of those also point in the parents’ direction. It seems that Faith and Cal have their own skeletons in their separate closets, and the FBI is just all too eager to open them, no matter the cost.
The author throws tons of red herrings at you until you’re really not sure whether one or maybe both parents were involved. The further the investigation goes, the more lies are uncovered. This family is far from perfect, but could they really abduct their own child? And if not them, then who?
The two main characters were flawed but interesting. Each of them was hurt in years of neglect and past mistakes. Whether they were guilty or not in their child’s disappearance (I won’t spoilt it here), their actions in the past were far from stellar. I guess you never know when the past comes back to haunt you.
Another character I grew fond of was FBI agent Malko Tibor. I would love this book to be the first in a new series featuring him. While the author hasn’t hinted it anywhere in the book, this guy has strong Hungarian roots. His name is as Hungarian it gets (I should know, I’m one as well), which made me feel a sort of kinship with him.
Malko’s past is shadowed by one his first cases where he made a mistake and the child he was supposed to find and save, died. Ever since then, he’s become more and more ruthless with everyone around him who stood in his way, and all he cares now is finding missing children before it’s too late. And whether he insults the parents or hurts their fragile egos, he doesn’t really care. Afterall, in his first fateful case, the parents were the very killers of their own child, and he considers it a personal failure to not have picked up on it.
Malko Tibor is a driven and tormented man, one whom I could easily see working on future cases of missing children. Here’s hoping, anyway.