- Book: The Last
- Location: Swiss Alps
- Author: Hanna Jameson
The Last is Waterstones August Thriller of the Month 2019 – and deservedly so. Academics from around the world are attending a conference in a hotel in the Swiss Alps – when the aforementioned world ‘ends’. A devastating nuclear attack and counter attack wipe out civilisation as we know it. Whole cities and cultures are destroyed. Communications go down and no one knows who is alive, for how long, and how they might be faring. It really is ground zero.
Many of the conference attendees flee in a vain effort to get back to their homes. Twenty people remain in the hotel to be rescued. But help never comes. They dig in and plan for a very uncertain future. Then the body of child, supposedly murdered, is found in a water storage tank on the roof. How long has she been there? Was she killed before or after the the nuclear attack and subsequent events? Might her killer still be in the hotel or might he/she have left? Suspicion and distrust are the order of the day. One man is accused of attempted rape – and is executed by common decision.
As stocks of food and medication begin to run low, sorties from the hotel are organised. It is then that the inhabitants of the hotel discover they are not the only people alive – more have survived. Most are aggressive and desparate. It is a dangerous world out there away from the familiar surroundings of their new home.
The book moves to a, to my mind, slightly unreal and anti-climatic conclusion. Another thread is woven into the story – and it doesn’t really need to be. But that is not to detract from my overall impression of a very well written and convincing thriller set in the most challenging of times. The characters in the hotel are all pretty believable. And some of them are not at all nice.
The book is written as the day-to-day diary of Jon, one of the academics (actually an historian), who stays on in the hotel. His wife and kids were left on the West Coast of the States when he travelled to Switzerland – and he has no idea whether they are alive or dead. It is a sobering thought…
The Last is well worth the read if you like something a bit out of the ordinary.