The Last by Hanna Jameson
The Last is an intriguing blend of genres, but its dystopian tale lacks intrigue
Jon Keller is in Switzerland for a conference when a series of nuclear detonations end the world. His wife, Nadia, and their two children are still in the US, and he has no way of knowing if they are alive. Twenty people now remain in Jon’s hotel, hoping to survive the end of the world far from the nearest city. When the body of a girl is found, Jon becomes obsessed with finding the killer, convinced that they could still be among the group.
Though The Last provides an interesting combination of genres – murder mystery, apocalyptic dystopian, psychological thriller – it fails to really follow through on any of the three. The focus soon shifts from the young girl’s murder to the survival of the group, and any dystopian elements, though frighteningly plausible, feel like one-dimensional scene-setting rather than a thoroughly prepared framework. The conclusion of Jon’s investigation is unexpected and abrupt and does little to tie all the loose threads together. However, the novel does well in its exploration of the human psychology under duress, with Jameson's writing hugely perceptive.
Whilst Jameson’s debut is presented as Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None meets The Shining, the reality is it's a little less murder mystery, and a little more nuclear war dystopia. Though it is an intelligent and enjoyable read, The Last ultimately falls short by failing to provide that longed-for sense of intrigue, or an enigmatic ‘whodunit’.
Out now via Viking, £12.99