Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“What the three musketeers didn’t know yet, was that [his] death was not the end of their troubles, but the start of new ones.”
I am honestly a bit lost for words right now! This is such a well put together murder mystery that will keep you guessing as well as leave you with a pretty intense book hangover! Characters are brilliant, the plot is superb and it has the perfect balance of suspense, terror and surprise that I love in a book of this genre. I’m so happy to be sharing my review in addition to the recent blog tour!
Back in 1974, the dormant Irish village of Seacross is shocked by the gruesome circumstances of young Margaret Morehouse’s death. Forty-five years later history seems to repeat itself and the quiet life of the coastal Irish village is suddenly shaken by a series of ritualistic murders.
Someone had broken the pact of secrecy to obtain justice, but if the truth comes out nobody will be spared, from the future Taoiseach to the local men of power. Inspector Billy McCabe is called to investigate but what hides behind those deaths is more obscure than he thinks. Not only will the inspector have to face his demons and test his beliefs but he will also have to watch over his shoulder because nobody can be trusted, not even the ones closest to him. In the end, McCabe will find his way out of the net of lies and old secrets, but at what price?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love a good prologue, and the one in this book was perfectly thrilling and created such an amazing yet eerie opening to the story! Even though it was only a couple of pages long, it effortlessly succeeded in drawing me into the book, making me so very curious. This intrigue didn’t stop there either. Even as we begin the first chapter, we join one character, David, in learning something significant about his father. However, this something is kept secret from readers for now, forcing us to read on and become even more desperate for information! The way the author has written the opening chapters was completely perfect for a murder mystery, and I could already see this book up there in my top few of this genre. As well as the intrigue and buildup of my curiosity here, the author has given us enough detail about David to make readers become attached to him and his family’s story. A brilliant start!
I loved getting to know Billy McCabe, another strong character who happened to be an Inspector at the local police station, and was obviously going to play a big and rather exciting role in the book. He had a great sense of humour and was instantly likeable, and I was already looking forward to seeing what he experienced along the way. Aside from Billy’s work, we also come to learn of a letter received by several other characters, something that seemed to spark panic in them. Who sent the letters and what did they say?! Again, the mystery surrounding these scenes was written perfectly, and even though we don’t necessarily have all the information right now, I just knew there’d be a very clever explanation for this later on. I began to make links between these characters and David earlier on in the story, and the author has perfectly navigated these elements of the book. I loved the rate at which things started to fit together, and everything I read amazed me. This author is clearly very talented!
“He would give everything he had (that was not much nowadays) for a drink, but he knew better than to show up at his old man’s funeral drunk. Even if the last thing he felt right now was to pay his respects to a man who had lied all his life.”
The story quickly got an intense, addictive quality as soon we begin to learn of a murder, a murder from years in the past which has now come back to haunt a number of characters. Placing yourself in the shoes of these characters was just easy – the panic and stress they feel just radiates through the pages here which is quite remarkable! After spending years with the burden laying dormant in their minds, the letters they received just brought those horrors back, vivid and real. The more the murder was discussed, the more involved I felt in it, and I was so curious to know what could be discovered later on. There are a few characters to keep on top of, but it was surprisingly easy to do so, and they all played an important part in what was about to go down. Each bit of description and each scene, no matter what was happening, was so brilliant to experience. What I really wanted to know at this point, however, was just what the characters with the letters were expected to do, and whether their lives were in danger.
I quickly found David to be my favourite character – he had a dark and mysterious side to him which had been developed exceptionally well by the author. However, saying this, I really liked everyone we met along the way! The way he scammed the other characters into sending him money to keep his mouth shut about what happened in those dark days seemed to make him pretty rich, and I loved how we still don’t know every detail about this. We’re forced to use our imagination to put two and two together which was very clever indeed. His plans to win his family over fall flat and how he destroyed his newfound riches made me feel sorry for him in a way – he’s lost his way, but I had the feeling we hadn’t finished with this character just yet. The beginning of the book really set some high standards for the rest, and I was really looking forward to getting stuck into the main part of the story. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to find out more about a murder!
Hearing from so many different characters in this book helps us to learn things about other characters we may not have seen otherwise, and this attention to detail was so brilliant. Even though we know David is going through a bad time, we see exactly how this guy lives his life through another character’s eyes – Jenny. Meanwhile, the characters David continued to blackmail had their own plan, a clever group decision that involved sleeping pills and a whole lot of bravery. We’re already hit with some shocking news that made what could potentially come next in the story even more exciting. It seems there is never a dull moment in this story, and when each cliff hanger ends, we’re left with another, and another! The excitement is consistent and each character so believable throughout every chapter we read, and I felt such intense enjoyment when reading each page. It was turning into everything I’d hoped for! It seemed Billy McCabe’s job was about to get a whole lot more interesting…
I loved how the pace began to pick up a little more at this point in the story. Sam, James and Tom had new problems, as well as the huge problem from their past they wanted to forget. The layers of murder and deceit create such a huge web of deliciousness for any murder mystery fan, and I can’t remember a time when I felt so invested in multiple murders in a story! The detective feel of the book was perfect and I found it so easy to become invested in a whole new case for Billy McCabe. Even though we readers know exactly what happened to one particular character, it was interesting to see just how deep the investigators go to find out the truth. I couldn’t wait to see whether Billy could find out the truth, whether the ‘three musketeers’ would get away with what they’d done, and even how all this tied back to that murder all those years ago. Sam, James and Tom seem to have a whole lot more on their plates right now, and seeing how close Billy gets to solving this crime made me feel anxious for the others!
“A blind fury arose inside him. He slammed the door and drove off not noticing the rusty old car that was tailing him.”
We begin to make subtle connections to the title of the book here, and the story was quickly turning into something so unique and unlike anything I’ve read before. I loved the unusual mentions of black magic, and Nelly’s character really made me curious all the way through. The news of more ritualistic murders created even more mystery, and Billy McCabe even gets a few unexpected discoveries along the way. The depth in this book is unreal, and each creepy murder we uncover, each clue we learn about and each mention of the ‘Last Witch’ made me completely invested in the story. It isn’t often I’d like a book to go on and on forever, but I genuinely didn’t think I’d ever get bored of this! With talks that Margaret Morehouse’s murder is linked to others, the tension only builds and the excitement just gets greater. It was just as exciting as watching a crime/mystery show on TV (I would definitely love to see this book on screen!)
The pace picks up even more with one murder after another. Just why were people from the same circle dropping like flies?! Even though it felt like Billy was slowly closing in on the truth, I also felt like there was still so much to discover. I had a few ideas running through my mind of who could potentially be the murderer here; was it one person we know well? Multiple people working together? Would we get the biggest shock right at the end and would it be someone we certainly didn’t expect to be the culprit? The author continues to keep her readers guessing as well as keeping them glued to each page, desperate for answers, and I think this is one of the things I really appreciated in this story. She’s written the book in such a way that keeps every bit of you invested, which is such an amazing talent. The way characters converse with one another as well as how each scene is described honestly filled me with even more love for this genre!
It was very interesting to read snippets of the book from the point of view of “the girl with the pink hair”, the person who was, very clearly, responsible for the murder of the last three victims. My mind was racing here, even more so when we learn about two new targets this person had to kill before justice was done. This just kicked things up a notch and made me think even more about how the ending of the book could play out. Who knew an abandoned cat, an old diary and a bunch of mysterious herbs could potentially give us the stepping stones to finding the person we needed! To get answers about the present day murders, the Inspector would have to delve a little deeper into the past. His partner, Annette, began to really step up at this part of the book, even though she was heavily pregnant, and I really appreciated her input. I began to love this character more and more, especially as she seems to really help Billy get what he needs to hopefully close this whole case once and for all.
The gruesome murders continue until the very end (would they even stop?!) and the detail is just too perfect to ignore. Everything fits into place so well and the author continues to craft each murder and each piece of this case so flawlessly. Even the murderer managed to kill their victims with such precise attention to detail! I loved the frantic feel between all the characters as we approach the end of the book, and with Billy on his last chance to get some concrete evidence before he’s taken off the case, it was more important than ever to get to the bottom of this. I really admired Billy’s dedication to his role and even just how supportive Annette and his other colleagues were in getting to the bottom of all this. Hopefully the stress and frustration would all be worth it in the end! I had no doubt in my mind that the author would end things in such a show stopping way, but first, there were a few crucial questions to answer and important details to uncover…
“The only thing I know is that instead of justice and piece I brought suffering and hate, but I will make amend…one day, I will.”
With some brand new evidence coming to light that could change everything, Billy now has to work against the clock. However, despite the pace of the book increasing ten fold, the author has navigated each character’s path immaculately and I was amazed with how clear and concise everything was! I loved the buzz that Billy feels as he closes in on the truth, and this just radiates through the pages – I felt his excitement and determination by just reading the words! Characters work together really well to get what they need (even though somewhat illegally) but I thought this just added to the craziness of the whole ordeal. Nothing about this case was normal! A final encounter with the girl with the pink hair gave me chills and even so close to the end of the book, I had no idea how the author would round things up here. It’s definitely been an unexpected ride from beginning to end, one that had blown all the norms out of the water.
The end of the story was very satisfying, tying things up nicely while still giving us some shocking scenes to devour. The action, the suspense and the potential danger in the final few scenes was mind-blowing and I must have held my breath a dozen times while everything played out! From shock, to horror, to sadness, to relief, the emotions felt when reading the ending to the book were pretty full on, but it was necessary for it to have the impact that it did. The final cliffhanger made me desperate for another book and I thought there was so much more to explore here! I literally cannot fault anything about this story – it’s a fantastic murder mystery with that something a little different that we all crave in a book these days. It’s absolutely worth the read in my eyes, and I’d give this one five stars without a doubt! Definitely one for any crime/mystery lover’s shelf.
This is one of those books that has you craving more as soon as you read that last page, and this author is certainly going to be one for me to keep an eye on in future. As well as such a deep mystery to unfold along with the characters, there’s also brilliant twists that even I never saw coming. It’s intense at times, completely gripping and I guarantee you’ll have trouble putting this one down if you love any murder mystery or crime based book! A fantastic first read by this author and it certainly won’t be my last.
A huge thanks to the author, Sabina Gabrielli Carrara, and Emma at Damp Pebbles for my copy of this book to read and review! You can purchase your own copy of the The Last Witch over on Amazon, available on Kindle and in paperback. Make sure you’re following the author over on Twitter and Instagram for more updates!