Jilliane Hoffman made an impressive debut in 2004 with
RETRIBUTION, hitting a number of public and private Top Ten lists.
A lesser writer would experience a sophomore slump, or perhaps even
the dreaded "one and done" syndrome. Thankfully, Hoffman, with the
newly published LAST WITNESS, has written a work that exceeds the
promise of RETRIBUTION, taking Florida State Prosecutor C. J.
Townsend into new and darker territory of the body and soul.
One suggestion before you begin LAST WITNESS: Read RETRIBUTION.
Though Hoffman does an admirable job of bringing new readers up to
speed with respect to what has transpired before, reading
RETRIBUTION will not only give you the full backstory but also will
prepare you for the even wilder ride that you will experience in
this latest novel.
LAST WITNESS is full of surprises, to say the least. Someone in
Miami is brutally murdering policemen. And not just any policemen.
A number of the victims have ties to the investigation of the Cupid
killings, resulting in the trial and conviction of William
Bantling. Townsend's successful prosecution of Bantling may have
been an ugly win, but justice, in its fashion, was done. Now,
however, it appears that someone knows of the conspiracy of silence
and omission that has sent Bantling to Death Row, and is taking
pains to clear up any potential loose ends.
Special Agent Dominick Falconetti with the Florida Department of
Law Enforcement is charged with investigating the murders and
slowly uncovers a drug connection between the slain officers and a
member of Miami's high society, unaware that the trail he is
following leads back to Townsend, to whom he is engaged. Townsend
is in both personal and professional danger. The unknown killer
seems to be methodically working his way toward her. Bantling,
meanwhile, is seeking a new trial on the basis that the prosecution
--- Townsend --- deliberately withheld evidence at his trial, and
that this evidence was material to his defense. The problem, of
course, is that Bantling is correct --- and Townsend is indeed in
grave danger, as an unknown killer moves ever closer to her.
Hoffman's work here is astounding --- no other word will do. LAST
WITNESS clears up questions left unanswered in RETRIBUTION and
provides a fully satisfying reading experience in its own right,
while creating an electrifying anticipation for her next novel.
While Hoffman's protagonists are interesting and three-dimensional,
she truly excels when creating her bogeymen, nightmarish characters
who live and think where the buses don't run and where angels fear
to tread. Hoffman also subtly utilizes the political and cultural
backdrop of southern Florida to great advantage, but never lets the
flora and fauna get in the way of her dynamic, suspenseful
Reading LAST WITNESS is a page-turning, terrifying experience that
will keep you up all night, not only while you are reading it but
also after you have finished it.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 11, 2011