Last Light by C.J. Lyons – Review

Published by Canelo

Publication date – 3 May 2016

Source – review copy


“A brutally murdered family… a wronged man in prison

From bestselling author CJ Lyons comes a new, standalone Lucy Guardino series. For fans of Lisa Gardner, Angela Marsons and Helen H. Durrant

“Everything a great thriller should be–action packed, authentic, and intense.” ~#1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child

1987: Lily Martin is horrifically murdered along with her young child in Texas.

Today: Life should be easy after leaving the FBI –  but not if you’re detective Lucy Guardino. Lucy has always seen herself as a normal mum who happened to have a job chasing the worst of the worst. But after a violent predator targets her family and she’s injured, Lucy sacrifices her career at the Bureau.

She joins the Beacon Group, a firm that specializes in cold cases and brings justice to forgotten victims. Lucy fears she’s traded the elite for shepherding a team of amateurs.

Her fears appear justified when she’s partnered with TK O’Connor, an army veteran struggling with her transition to ordinary life. They are sent to rural Texas to investigate a case that’s already been closed with the killers behind bars for twenty-nine years.

But who really killed Lily Martin and her infant daughter? Why was an entire family targeted for annihilation? What price will Lucy pay when she fights to expose a truth people will kill to keep buried?

Last Light is the start of a Lucy Guardino series which can be read on it’s own. If you enjoy captivating suspense, intelligent storytelling, strong and vulnerable characters, and a freight-train pace, then you’ll love this adrenaline rush of a heart-pounding thriller.

Lucy and her team are asked to look into the case of Michael Manning, who along with his brother Dicky, were sentenced to life in prison for the deaths of Lily Martin and her family. Although both admitted to the murders, questions have been raised about the validity of the confessions. Did they really commit those murders 29 years ago? If not why did they admit that they did, and who is the real killer?

Last Light is the first book in the Beacon Falls series but is the seventh book to feature Lucy Guardino. The books can be read in any order and Last Light was my introduction to Lucy.

It had a lovely (in my opinion) closed town, claustrophobic feel to the novel, in part because of the setting (a small town in Texas), and also because the pool of characters involved in the story was small. There was little narrative that included extras (locals or people to fill up the locations but who had no involvement in the story for example), that gave the setting an almost ghost town like feel. The fact that the story centred on a cold case, which of themselves lend to secrets being guarded and the past being protected, also added to the sense of isolation that Lucy, TK and David encounter.

The characters all of the potential to have an interesting backstory and to contribute different aspects to the series. In this book the story focuses mainly on Lucy, TK and David, each of which bring a different skills set and perspective to the case. TJ is prickly, trusts no one and automatically thinks that the worst will happen, perhaps because of experience, which is hinted at throughout the novel. David too has his own troubles to bear. Involved in a terrible accident whilst overseas, he suffered a brain injury that leaves him unable to express emotion verbally but leaves him more attuned to the emotions and non verbal communication of others. This case also has a personal connection for him which could colour his judgement. Lucy is also suffering the after effects of a vicious mauling that has left her with severe damage to her leg, and led to her having to leave her beloved role in the FBI and accept a civilian job with the Beacon Group. This shift from law enforcement to civilian is the aspect that Lucy most struggles with, and the case in Last Light sees her take the first steps in adjusting to this new role.

I did reach one stage of the book where I felt it was perhaps becoming a bit too predictable and because I was getting the urge to speed read I contemplated stopping reading. There were also some aspects that seemed to be skimmed over and would have possibly benefitted from going into in more depth. However, I didn’t and continued to read at normal pace and what I read was an entertaining crime novel. The mystery aspect of the story itself was engaging. Some strands I anticipated before the reveal, the others adding layers to the story to cement suspicions raised throughout.

Last Light is an entertaining and enjoyable thriller and is an good opening to a new crime series with an interesting premise. I am looking forward to reading more in the Beacon Falls series.

My thanks to the publishers for my review copy.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Great review Janet – I love the premise


    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks 🙂 It’s an entertaining read. I’ll be adding the next one in the series to the TBR

      Liked by 1 person

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