I had independent confirmation that John Ramsey Miller was on to
something several years ago. I was in a sundries store at a
mega-theme park in Central Florida and, while waiting for my wife
and daughter, perused the small selection of paperback books that
were being offered for sale. Of the 12 or so slots available, three
of them were occupied by different titles from Miller. That is
something that occurs by design and not by accident. The same can
be said of his latest offering.
THE LAST DAY stands independently from Miller’s
intertwined world of Winter Massey and Alexa Keen. Instead, it
concerns the lives of Ward and Natasha McCarty, a couple whose
world has been shaken in the worst way possible. Both are
incredibly successful in their respective fields. Ward heads up a
company that makes and markets NASCAR memorabilia, and Natasha is a
respected pediatric surgeon. The accidental death of their son
Barney is the defining, tragic event that casts a pall over their
lives. What the McCartys don’t realize is that they are being
observed and manipulated by a man known initially as Watcher.
Watcher has access to every aspect of their lives in ways that
neither of them can imagine.
All they know is that their personal and professional lives are
falling apart. Natasha has developed an upper extremity tremor ---
which will spell the end of her career --- and Ward is experiencing
memory lapses of increasing frequency. To make matters worse, a
teenaged girl who was seated next to Ward during an airplane flight
begins a strange campaign, guided by her deadbeat boyfriend, to
insinuate herself into his life. A horrifying incident involving
Ward’s company threatens to irrevocably damage its reputation
(not to mention his own). Furthermore, keepsakes of Barney begin to
go missing or are out of place.
When the McCartys start to realize that there is a campaign
against them, they feel as if they have turned a corner and need
only solve the “why” and the “who” of the
mystery to get their lives back on some sort of track. Each new
discovery, however, only brings them closer to terrible danger, as
Watcher begins to execute the final stages of an elaborate and
diabolically ingenious plan that will culminate in the destruction
of the McCartys and all they hold dear.
THE LAST DAY contains a number of interesting flourishes, not
the least of which is a backend look at the various aspects of the
racing industry in Concord, South Carolina, and of the IT world
that will have you, at the least, updating your Internet security
system if you don’t already do so as a matter of course.
Miller also works wonders with the McCartys, particularly in those
stages of the tale where they gradually begin bringing their
fracturing relationship back from the brink of irrevocable
The meat of THE LAST DAY, however, is the plot, which twists,
turns and careens throughout the book. You’ll never have more
fun while hanging on for dear life.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 30, 2010