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Dr. Charlotte Stone #1

The Last Victim

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Dr. Charlotte Stone sees what others do not.

A sought-after expert in criminal pathology, Charlie regularly sits face-to-face with madmen. Obsessed with learning what makes human monsters commit terrible crimes, Charlie desires little else from life—no doubt because when she was sixteen, she herself survived a serial killer’s bloodbath: A man butchered the family of Charlie’s best friend, Holly, then left the girl’s body on a seaside boardwalk one week later.

Because of the information Charlie gave police, the Boardwalk Killer went underground. She kept to herself her eerie postmortem visions of Holly and her mother. And even years later, knowing her contact with ghosts might undermine her credibility as a psychological expert, Charlie tells no one about the visits she gets from the spirit world.

Now all-too-handsome FBI agent Tony Bartoli is telling Charlie that a teenage girl is missing, her family slaughtered. Bartoli suspects that after fifteen years, the Boardwalk Killer—or a sick copycat with his M.O.—is back. Time is running short for an innocent, kidnapped girl, and Bartoli pleads for Charlie’s help.

This is the one case Charlie shouldn’t go near. But she also knows that she may be the one person in the world who can stop this vicious killer. For Charlie—whose good looks disguise a world of hurt, vulnerability, and potent psychic gifts—a frantic hunt for a madman soon becomes a complex test of cunning, passions, and secrets. Aiding Dr. Stone on her quest to catch a madman is a ghostly presence with bad intentions: the fiery spirit of seductive bad boy Michael Garland who refuses to be ignored, though in his cat and mouse game they may both lose their hearts.

Dr. Charlotte Stone sees what others do not. And she sees the Boardwalk Killer coming for her.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published August 7, 2012

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About the author

Karen Robards

117 books2,948 followers
Karen Robards is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of more than fifty books and one novella. She has won multiple awards including six Affaire de Coeur Silver Pen Awards for favorite author.
Karen has been writing since she was very young, and was first published nationally in the December 1973 Reader's Digest. She sold her first romance novel, ISLAND FLAME, when she was 24. It was published by Leisure Books in 1981 and is still in print. After that, she dropped out of law school to pursue her writing career.
Karen was recently described by The Daily Mail as "one of the most reliable thriller....writers in the world."

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,068 reviews
Profile Image for KAS.
317 reviews3,130 followers
March 27, 2019

3.4 stars
It has been a long time since I have read a book by Ms. Robards, let alone ‘listened,’ and overall ... enjoyed!

This is a romantic suspense, and as with all Karen Robards reads, you will get a healthy dose of romance.

It also is a paranormal read, which aren’t my favorite. I went in blind, so didn’t realize it until I was already sucked in. The heroine sees, hears and can feel the dead. Hmmmm?? I know, out there right? But it sure does add a lot of intrigue to the plot line, along with some major eye rolling.

To be completely honest, it surprises me I am not a huge fan of paranormal reads. Believe it or not, I have personally seen, heard and felt “ghosts.” No seriously, like serious as a heart attack, serious!! So has my mother, and she goes bonkers over this stuff. I most likely steer clear of this genre because it highlights my own cray-cray experiences ;)

Still deciding whether or not to continue on with the series.
Profile Image for Jonetta.
2,206 reviews927 followers
December 14, 2015
Charlotte (Charlie) Stone is a psychiatrist who is studying serial killers at a prison when she is approached by FBI agent Tony Bartoli to assist on an murder/abduction case. It's almost identical to one she witnessed when she was 17-years old. Before leaving the prison, one of her study participants is shanked and dies while she attempts to save him. Unfortunately, his ghost decides to hang around.

The story begins so interestingly, with heightened tension around Charlie's horrific experience as a teenager and as a psychiatrist in the prison. It continues when she assists the FBI on their murder/abduction case. When the focus was on the investigation, it was hard to put down. But when the focus shifted to the ghost, the story became bogged down with the character's endless internal dialogue regarding her conflicted feelings. The details were endless and unnecessary, bringing the pace to a grinding halt.

I was intrigued by and drawn into the suspense of the story but it couldn't compensate for the ad nauseum details of Charlie's relationship with the ghost and associated musings. The climax was exciting but the overall story was too uneven for my taste. I did a LOT of skimming in the middle of the book. I may continue but only if I can find the audio versions. I'm also on the fence about the direction of the romance. 3.5 stars
May 5, 2018
Wont continue this series. ( really tried to re-read again.)

Did one of my favourite romantic suspense authors really write this??

The author takes a walk on the ghostly side with this weird paranormal thriller.
A police procedural crossed with a ghost story, and a hunt for a serial killer that is rather creepy in many ways.

When she was a teen, Dr. Charlotte Stone was the only survivor of the Boardwalk Killer.
It was that event that caused Charlie to become a leading expert in serial killers.
One day, while Charlie is interviewing convicted killer Michael Garland in prison, two things happen.
First the FBI arrives, wanting her help on a new case that is frighteningly similar to the Boardwalk Killer, and then Garland is stabbed to death by another prisoner.
Charlie tries to save Garland, but that doesn't satisfy his angry ghost who starts following her.
Well now...Charlie is so good at her job because she sees ghosts (Ghostbuster's is playing in my head) Garland however, (the angry ghost) is not following the usual script.
What's a Ghostbuster to do?
As Charlie races to stop a killer, she faces the fear that it could be the man she escaped once before..gahhh.
I tried to read this book again thinking maybe it was just the mood I was in at the time and I didn't give it a proper review..after all I love this author's books..it has to be me.
Nope, it didn't work any better this time and again these are my turn-off's:

1) Main character has a sexual attraction to the serial killer even after watching her friend and her mother die at the hands of one.

2) She has an "out of body" affair with the ghost of a man who murdered woman..for real?
That's a turn on?

3) Storyline very disturbing and unpleasant to read to say the least.

4) Now it has it's proper review.
And I haven't lost faith in one of my favourite authors, and I will still read her next books to come out, but not one that goes in this series if it follows along these lines.
Still a fan Karen Robards :)
Profile Image for Vicki.
1,207 reviews145 followers
April 28, 2016
This is the start of the series and what an amazing series it is. Dr. Charlotte Stone is an expert on Serial Killers. She had escaped one when she was a teenager and she has been obsessed with figuring out what causes them ever sense.
She is working with Michael Garland when he is murdered. His spirit attaches its self to her. She tries not to get emotionally involved with the ghost, but he is a very attractive ghost. He teases her and tempts her and Charlie finds herself just too fascinated by him. I loved this book. I loved Michael and I kept reading other books about him, always wanting him to be innocent and come back to life.

The blend of paranormal and serial killers was a great blend. I love Karen Robard's books. They are fascinating.
Profile Image for Shelleyrae at Book'd Out.
2,458 reviews513 followers
August 5, 2012

I jumped at the chance to read the first book in Karen Robard's newest series with its intriguing premise. Dr Charlie Stone studies serial killers, the motivation her own narrow escape from the Boardwalk Killer as a teenager. It has been 15 years since that terrible night but it seems the Boardwalk Killer, or a copycat, has surfaced and the FBI need Charlie's help if they hope to save his latest victim. Using her expertise in profiling, and her hidden ability to see the spirits of the newly dead, Charlie assists the FBI team to piece together the clues that may end up leading her right into her worst nightmare.

I have no way of justifying my assessment of this novel without possibly revealing a spoiler related to the romantic element of the story, so read on at your own risk...

There was a lot that I enjoyed about this novel but within the first few pages when Dr Charlie Stone describes a serial killer, Michael Garland, sitting across from her during a clinical assessment, as 'hot' I was taken aback. Despite being jarred by what seemed to me to be a totally inappropriate descriptor, I dismissed it and kept reading. A few pages later and Garland is stabbed as he returns to his cell and despite her best efforts, Charlie is unable to save him. While I admired Charlie's determined effort to save Garland despite his obvious fatal wound, I was a bit disturbed by the depth of her pity for a man convicted of murdering seven women as she witnesses his spirit being pulled into a purple mist, but again I chose to brush it aside. Yet from there the relationship between Charlie and Garland took a path I was even less comfortable with as Garland's spirit attaches itself to her. Between Charlie's repeated admiration of the dead man's physique, charm and her inexplicable sympathy for him I was incredulous, however I held on, thinking that we would discover that in fact Garland wasn't responsible for the murders after all, he was wrongly accused or framed or something. Garland certainly denies his guilt, but the lack of 'the light' and the presence of the 'screaming mist' seems to at least confirm the man has done something unsavoury and by the end of the novel there is no evidence that Garland was anything but a serial killer, abusive childhood non withstanding.
I just couldn't deal with this relationship, especially when it becomes sexually intimate, which I thought was wrong on so many levels. Even if the author reveals in later books of the series that Garland is innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted, it will be too late for me.

It's a shame because there were other elements of the story I enjoyed yet I can't get past the romantic relationship and I can't recommend The Last Victim for that very reason, though others seem happy to overlook it, given its average 4 star rating on Goodreads. It's not for me though, you will have to make up your own mind.
Profile Image for Regan.
119 reviews16 followers
November 4, 2012
I really, really enjoyed this book. As a psychic medium, and someone who studied criminal psychology/forensics in college in hopes to become a profiler who used her gifts, I really related to the main character in this book. She was awesome. I really enjoyed the humor between her and her spirit attachment "Garland." I know there is a lot of talk amongst those who have reviewed the book regarding the main character's love interest with a "serial killer" spirit. I wasn't bothered by it for a couple of reasons.

She eludes to his innocence, and if you read on about this book, this is just one in a series to come about. She maybe writing him into a good guy, and it may be up to the main character to discover his innocence, and help him move onto the light; vs. "Spookeville."

A. He IS still attached to her for a reason..right?
B. That's her job, to identify what makes them tick.

He very well maybe innocent, but with the other plot line in the book, she couldn't very well wrap it all up in once book if she's planning on making a series of it.

I enjoyed it. I thought it was well written, witty, sexual, sensual with a good balance of intrigue, mystery and story line. I really enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Nicole.
1,523 reviews173 followers
August 14, 2012
Review originally posted here: http://thebookpushers.com/2012/08/13/...

I was looking forward to trying Robards, because so many people talked up just how wonderful her romantic suspense books are. I was a little hesitant because this was a new paranormal series, but I like paranormal as well, so I figured all would work out. Yeah, not so much.

Charlie has dedicated her life to studying serial killers after the traumatic event of her childhood. The last thing she ever expected was to be tapped by the FBI to act as a consultant on the case that is looking to be more and more like the serial killer from her past. Charlie doesn’t want to go, but the FBI convinces her it’s best. So with her FBI protection detail and shaky nerves Charlie goes off to help the case.

But the FBI doesn’t know about Charlie’s gift/curse of seeing people right after they die a horrific death. While it helps with finding and tracking down murderers, Charlie has a slight problem, one of the serial killers, Michael Garland, she was profiling in prison has attached himself to her and is actively haunting her. Garland refuses to be ignored, but is also willing to help her out in any way he can. With her gift, Garland’s help and the FBI team, they just might be able to solve this case before Charlie becomes the next victim.

I will admit that I liked the overall premise of the book. I liked that Charlie could see ghosts, interact with them, etc. I liked the serial killer case, it was creepy and scary and all around suspenseful. However, the romance in this book was horrible. I didn’t like it at all. Charlie had a few shared kisses with sexy and understanding FBI agent Tony, but the real romance of this story was between Charlie and Garland, the man she had been profiling as a serial killer for who knows how long. That is creepy, and gross, and creepy, and gross!!

The romance between these two was uncomfortable for me to read. Charlie never really seemed to think, at any time, that Garland WASN’T a serial killer. She even had to remind herself time and time again that he killer numerous women, that he was a stone-cold killer. Then she would turn around in her own ghost form (while astral projecting) and get down and dirty with the guy. I can’t count the number of times my eyes popped out of my head and I screamed at her: “HE’S A SERIAL KILLER! WTF??”

Even though the case with the killer was intriguing, I couldn’t get over the romance. I tried to get past it, tried to ignore the whole sleeping with a serial-killer aspect, but I just couldn’t. The direction that Robards chose to go with the romance clouded the rest of what could have been a stellar series. I can honestly say I probably won’t be picking up any of her books in this series in the future.

All in all this story was lost on me. While I think this could have been a solid story: it had an interesting premise and world and an intense and unique serial killer case that kept me guessing until the very end, the romance was so poorly done IMO, it ruined everyone else. I don’t know that anything other than a move away from the romance between Charlie and Garland could have made this book better for me.
I give The Last Victim a D-
Profile Image for NZLisaM.
414 reviews381 followers
June 15, 2018
Spooky, Sexy, Suspenseful – part crime, part romance, part supernatural ghost story rolled into one!

No. 1 in a four part series, following Dr. Charlotte Stone, a psychologist who profiles serial killers. Combines everything you’ve come to expect, and love, about a Karen Robards novel – a shocking and engrossing crime/mystery, hot guy/s, a vulnerable, yet strong heroine, loads of romantic tension, and smouldering love scenes. A most enjoyable, emotional, and satisfying read. 4-stars, as I felt the crime was a bit rushed in the end, Loved all the characters from Charlottle through to Kaminsky. Will definitely be reading the next book in the series, ‘The last Kiss Goodbye’.
Profile Image for Christine.
154 reviews
June 12, 2013
This rating is based on the unabridged audio edition read by Ann Marie Lee.

What happens when you combine an author who loves adjective and adverbs of every size, shape and color with a narrator with a very soft and emotive voice? You get an experience that I would have slept through if all the eye-rolling hadn’t kept me awake.

Honestly, the premise of the story was pretty good, if not very original. The main character is the lone survivor and witness to a series of serial murders that occurred fifteen years ago. Eerily similar murders are occurring again. Has the Boardwalk Killer returned or is there a very knowledgable copy-cat killer on the loose? This is just the sort of investigative mystery I enjoy. I also enjoy paranormal elements, so the ghosts in the story should have just added to the fun. But I can see why it would turn many other readers off.

My biggest contention was with the writing style itself. And that’s just a matter of my own personal taste. You don’t need to say the same thing three different ways in the same sentence. You don’t need to tack on descriptive adjectives to every single noun. (Yes, I exaggerate, but that’s how it felt sometimes.) I don’t need to know the character’s every single move as they are getting into bed or walking down a hallway and taking a “sharp right”. And I thought everyone these days knew that police do NOT use chalk outlines to mark where bodies were found. Talk about contaminating a crime scene. But then, the focus of the story seemed to be more about the main character’s emotional angst and questionable love life, than a murder investigation.

In summary: There was a nugget of a good story overwhelmed by descriptive, emotional writing that was too distracting for my taste.
Profile Image for Carl Brookins.
Author 25 books71 followers
August 16, 2012

This first novel in a new series by this veteran writer is a ghost story. A romantic hot ghost story. I’m not a fan of ghost or paranormal stories. It’s not that I don’t believe in the possibility of another dimension or two. I do, but too often the paranormal element in a good crime fiction novel breeds sloppiness. Not in this case.

All too often, the inclusion of a strong romantic element in a good crime novel is just a way for the novelist to beef up a weak plot line. Not in this novel. There’s enough good emotional sex in this story to satisfy the most prurient reader, but it’s handled in a precise way that adds to the character of the principal actors, and it comes in logical sequence in the story. The plot line, an increasingly frantic search for a kidnapped teen aged young woman by a serial killer, is tension-filled from the first page and it peaks in the final resolution at precisely the right moment.

The writing is clean, the story line almost impeccable, although some FBI agents lose a little polish in some scenes. The love story between shade and serial killer specialist, psychiatrist Dr. Charlotte “Charlie” Stone, is, well, hot and nicely realized. She had me, almost from the first sentence. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Vettech.
529 reviews12 followers
June 11, 2013
Wow, this book was a great read!! Full of suspense, murder, a hunky ghost, a hunky FBI guy and romance of a sort to boot~~

This was the first book in a new series featuring Dr. Charlotte Stone, a psychologist with a special gift...she sees dead people!!

The story surrounds the investigation into the Boardwalk Serial Killer. When the killer was revealed at the book, my jaw hit the ground.

I look forward to reading the next book in this wonderful series, which comes out in mid-August.

For those of you out there interested in a good scary serial killer read, this is the book for you...of course the romance aspect is a very nice extra. I recommend this book highly!!
Profile Image for Alex is The Romance Fox.
1,461 reviews1,089 followers
September 20, 2014
Last Victim by Karen Robards first book in her new Dr. Charlotte Stone Series.
is a psychological paranormal romance and suspense thriller.
Charlotte (Charlie) Stone is a leading expert in criminal psychology and specializes in studying serial killers. As part of her research, she’s interviewing Michael Garland a serial killer in prison, when the FBI arrives asking for her help in finding a missing teenager, who they believe has been kidnapped by a copycat of The Boardwalker Killer. Charlie was the only survivor of that killer when she was a teenager and her friend and her family had been murdered by him. She agrees, albeit reluctantly to help, when the killer she had been interviewing is stabbed. She tries to save him, without success and she suddenly sees his spirit leave his body….…….yes, Charlie sees dead people and she helps them into the light from the Afterlife…or something like that.

She attempts to help Michael’s ghost to “cross” over but he refuses. He’s now “tied” to Dr Stone and follows her everywhere….I kid you not!!
So, whilst Charlie works with Agent Tony Bartoli and his team, the ghost pops up at the most unexpected places, even the bathroom !!! No, there is nothing going on between Charlie and Agent Bartoli…..its Charlie & Michael….what a hero who is a serial killer!!!!!!

With ghosts she has helped before helping her find the kidnapped teenager before she’s killed, she finds herself becoming obsessed with Michael..yes, the serial killer she can’t get to follow the light!! She even dreams about him….the weird scene where Michael seduces her when she’s sleeping or dreaming..whatever…is just too bizarre for me. I became irritated after a while with all their encounters!!!

I did like Charlie – she’s smart and caring but some of her actions and decisions are a bit out there.
The hero – the ghost – Michael Garland…hey, this is a killer of seven people – of course he denies he ever killed anyone, but how did he then get convicted for the crimes????? I cannot be like Charlie and suddenly start liking someone like him, right???????

I liked the two secondary characters, FBI agents, Buzz & Lena. There’s some really funny interaction and some romantic tension going on. And Agent Bartoli is interesting…I did think in the beginning, he would be the romantic hero…but just so not.
It’s a well-paced story filled with all kinds of twists and turns and I was surprised when the villain is revealed. I certainly was not expecting that.

I am a fan of this author but this was one of her books I didn’t like as much some of her others.

Not a bad book – just not a great one.
Profile Image for Alissa.
617 reviews86 followers
May 1, 2018
3.5 stars rounded up because romantic suspense is my new romance sub-genre of preference. This book is nicely written and has an actual plot. As usual, I'm not very demanding when it comes to romance (while I'm a total nitpick with fantasy or historical fiction and I dislike romance undertones) but I enjoyed this one quite a bit. I just factor that my starting expectations were low. Objectively, with more editing down and less telling than showing this novel would have been even better.
The whole having-the-hots-for-a-convicted-serial killer should have given me cartloads of pause, but the way it's presented just didn't.

I'm continuing with the series.
Profile Image for Denise McDonald.
Author 12 books15 followers
November 11, 2012
I have to say, I *love* Karen Robards' books... from the first one I ever read over a decade ago, so I went into this book ready to fall in love again. About three chapters in, I will admit, I was ready to put the book down... I didn't want to read a *ghost* story—didn't read the blurb or any reviews so I had no idea what the story might be about. A ghost was the last thing I was expecting. And the ghost was not the best earthly guy there was. But I kept going *because* it was Robards. I am so very glad I did.

I loved this book, I loved the evolution between Charlie and Garland and almost wanted to skip over the parts without him just to get more of him. Seems weird considering his introduction to us, at the jail and his past and conviction whether rigthful or not(???). It was, however, worth reading through the entire book to get the build up. Made it sweeter by the end.

I will say, the reason I knocked it down from 5 to 4 was that I was a little disappointed in the *dump* at the end when the "crime" was neatly wrapped up in a few explaining paragraphs; that fell a little flat to me.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Yvonne.
950 reviews71 followers
August 17, 2012
This really hit the spot. I was in the mood for something dark and suspenseful and this book delivered. I love Karen Robards, her villains are really creepy and the romances are nicely developed. My issue with this book was the same as a few other reviewers, I just had a hard time with the romance between the heroine and Michael. I don't want to give anything away, but the romance was really creepy and difficult to get into. I can't imagine that KR won't exonerate Michael - please!

Profile Image for Carolyn F..
3,390 reviews51 followers
January 14, 2018
I thought this book was okay. The beginning was riveting but then with the grownup Charlie there was too much upset stomach, throwing up, dizzy, weak, tripping over herself. I like my main female characters to not be so delicate. Then after the beginning of the book mentioned this over and over, it seemed to disappear. However, this colored my perception of the main character throughout the book. So, 3 stars because of that.
Profile Image for Jessy.
411 reviews
June 24, 2013
I was a little torn with this one, especially considering Michael is supposedly a serial killer, and Charlie knows this. However, it seemed to work out. In fact, my favorite parts were Charlie's scenes with Michael. Unfortunately, this meant I was a little bored when he wasn't there. So, when Michael was present, this was four stars; when he was absent, two or three stars.

Charlie's interactions with Michael carried heat, heat, heat, and more heat. The two had great chemistry, which made Charlie's attraction to Bartoli that more tedious. I don't even know if it could rightly be called attraction. It's more like she knows Bartoli is the one she should be with; so, it comes off as being forced. Charlie and Bartoli don't have any passion together. Whether the author meant their relationship to be so lackluster remains to be seen. I'm hoping Bartoli gets tossed aside relatively quickly with little drama. Charlie is a completely different person with him than she is with Michael. With Bartoli, she's practically a damsel in distress; with Michael, a fighter. I gravitate more towards the fighter persona...

Now the secondary characters. I didn't have a problem with Crane, but he didn't really jump out at me either. Kaminsky, however. Her antagonistic interactions with both Charlie and Crane could be incredibly annoying at times. She never really lets up (except for Charlie's sob scene). I hope this is different the next time she appears.

Also, I wish the author had incorporated more flashbacks to Charlie's night with the Palmers. As is, I really only got that bit at the beginning, and it wasn't a flashback but a prologue. I think the flashbacks would have been a little more effective. I would have been able to understand more fully how Charlie escaped detection. The prologue ends with Charlie leaving Holly to get help. When she leaves the basement, she witnesses the death of Mrs. Palmer at the hands of the killer. Believing she's trapped, Charlie turns around and goes back into the basement. End scene. It's never really explained how she gets from there to the hospital. Where did she hide? What about Holly? Did she and Charlie talk more? Try to escape? Did Holly keep her mouth shut when the killer came back? It's a mystery, and--considering the book includes the capture of the original killer--I'm not so sure I'll get an answer, which bothers me a little.

Nevertheless, I don't read a lot of mystery/thriller, and I enjoyed this one. I definitely want to read the next one. The writing was great and the characters, well developed. Well, Charlie and Michael are well developed. Kaminsky has potential, maybe Crane. However, Bartoli's a little flat. Then again, was this on purpose?

Charlie and Michael both have troubled pasts. I hope the next book addresses their personal histories more. Michael's "serial killer" identity has to be addressed, as well. I mean, with all the "not guilty" cues stashed in this book, I'm going to go ahead and say that Michael was wrongly convicted. So, it stands to reason that this will be a plot for a future installment. I'm quite excited for it.

UPDATE 9.18.13
I only gave this book three stars. That being said, it is on my favorites shelf. Why? Because I just finished the second installment. It was definitely better. I'm pulling for this series.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1 review
August 19, 2012
I received this book through goodreads first reads. I was doubly excited to receive it because i am a big Karen Robards fan. I have thoroughly enjoyed every book that i have read of hers, thus far.
However, i was bit worried as to how I would enjoy this book. The book has an added paranormal element to it, unlike the rest of her romantic suspense books. The paranormal realm doesn't bug me at all, but what really threw me off was the fact that the main character, charlie, falls somewhat in love with a serial killer ghost! It really put me off instantaneously, however i kept reading the book and i ended up really liking the story! I give Karen Robards kudos for convincing the reader to also approve of charlie's love interest.
Charlie, is a psychiatrist who can also communicate with newly dead spirits/ghost. She ends up getting involved into a FBI investigation. Which also brings along another love interest for Charlie in the story. I do not want to add anymore to spoil it for anyone, so I suggest to read it if you are curious.
It seems as if this book will be a series. I felt like it made me approve of the book more because I have a feeling in future books more questions will be answered about charlie and her serial killer ghost following her around. However, if the book wasn't in a series i would feel a little bit like I was hanging in the dark.
Overall I really liked the book. And I would definitely suggest it to fans of karen robards, or fans of paranormal romance.
Profile Image for Jacqueline J.
3,466 reviews318 followers
November 10, 2014
Well I see that my GRs friends that read this did not like it. So I was hesitant to read it but a friend and I decided to read it together. One of the biggest drawbacks people seem to have is that the hero is a dead serial killer. I suspect that Garland is going to turn out not to be guilty of that at least. Since this series continues on with the same two characters we will find out more about his guilt or innocence.

The story was really readable. I liked the interplay between the two. The dialog was fun and story moved right along. The secondary characters were well done also. I don't really feel any heat between Charlie and the guy who is supposed to be the other side of the love triangle. He doesn't really do anything for her except she thinks he's a better option than a dead guy.

They have a sex scene during an astral projection of the heroine's. So it seems that death is just another plane of existence since he and she are both physical there. I still don't see him coming back from the dead though so don't see how that will eventually work out if indeed it does.

The suspense part of the story was weaker but was still acceptable. I think the thing that held it back for me was that because we never saw the bad guy doing anything it was not as intense as it could have been . The entire book stayed firmly in the head of the female protagonist.
Profile Image for Wendy.
1,641 reviews557 followers
October 9, 2012
The Last Victim is my first novel by Karen Robards. It is a non-stop page-turning paranormal romance filled with suspense.
An excellent fast-paced tale of murder, FBR profilers and psychics.

I enjoyed the characters both living and dead and hope to see them in future novels.

I look forward to the sequel of this book and also plan to read her romantic suspense novels.
Profile Image for Lynn.
1,835 reviews42 followers
July 29, 2020
Karen Robards writes romantic suspense, a genre I don't normally care for. This series was recommended by a reviewer who said it would appeal to readers of paranormal books even though they don't normally reach for romantic suspense. As this book was available from my library as a downloadable audio book, I thought I would give it a try. Pickings are slim for non-waitlisted books these days.

This book started well, it had potential to be a 3 star which means I was enjoying it. Then it happened. The plot line went a place I suspected it might go but it went even further. Nope, nope, nope. In so many ways, nope.

It's my fault, I should have read more of the synopsis and avoided the audible "are you kidding me?" on my walk.
Profile Image for Deacon Tom F.
1,772 reviews133 followers
February 25, 2023
Fast Paced

This book by Karen Robards is incredibly fast paced.

The plug has a few holes in it and takes a bit of imagination to believe--if you can go that far, I think you wouldn be able to enjoy it.
Profile Image for Amy.
587 reviews28 followers
May 12, 2019
Fast paced. A bit of supernatural that totally caught me off guard. I can't wait to pick up the next one.
Profile Image for Lyn (Readinghearts).
324 reviews15 followers
January 16, 2013
The Last Victim by Karen Robards is the first book in her new Dr. Charlotte Stone series. Although Robards is an established author in the romantic suspense genre, this is the first book of hers that I have read. As such, I am not sure that it was the best book for me to start with. For one, I like romantic suspense that is a bit more heavy on he suspense than the romance. In the end, there were things about this book that I really liked, and some that bothered me.

Dr. Charlotte Stone is a survivor. In fact, 15 years ago she was the lone survivor of a terrible serial killer. Unfortunately, she was the only living person who could identify him. This fact has haunted her for years and helped her to decide to become a psychologist who specializes in studying serial killers. As an expert, she is asked to consult with the FBI as a consultant on the case of a serial killer who seems eerily similar to the one that she survived all those years ago.

This premise of this book was intriguing. I think the psychologist as a profiler is a tried and true device in a number of thrillers, and it always seems to work for me. I like the way it gives the author a way to look inside the mind and motives of the killer, and actually spell out what the killer is thinking without sounding like they are lecturing the reader. In this respect, Dr. Stone is a perfect example. Another device that works well is the romantic feelings and the tension that it causes between Dr. Stone and Bartoli, the head of the FBI team that she is working with. The plot line of the story was another part of this book that I enjoyed. Unfortunately, I sometimes felt that the thriller plot line was playing second fiddle to the romantic plot lines. Yes, I said lines. There were two of them.

This brings me to the parts of the book that I was not that fond of. The biggest thing here, which I mentioned above, is that I felt that the main romance story line overshadowed the thriller storyline at times. I'm sure this is fine with many readers, but I am not a huge romance reader. I do think romance has a place in many story lines, and I am not averse to it altoghether, but I try to avoid books that may be considered "bodice rippers" (not my phrase, that is what some of my friends who read them call them). I would have preferred it if the thriller story line was a bit more front and center. The biggest thing that bothered me, though was the fact that the main character, who has had an emotionally scarring encounter with a serial killer in her teens, and is supposed to be a clinical psychologist on top of it, falls in love with the ghost of a serial killer. Although I liked the character of the ghost, and liked the way that he participated in the solving of the crime, the fact that he was the major love interest was not at all believable to me. Additionally, the fact that the author seemed to want to make him into a sympathetic character I found just plain disturbing. In all, this aspect of the story did not work for me.

For a long time, I deliberated how many stars to give this book, but in the end, the things that I liked won out over the things that I didn't. That and the fact that I feel that I liked it enough to try the next one in the series.
Profile Image for Morgan Wyatt.
Author 19 books315 followers
July 30, 2013
The Last Victim by Karen Robards is one of her latest romantic suspense stories with a paranormal twist. Ms. Robards’ reputation is for writing edgy tales often with high body counts and serious blood. This book is no different, or is it? The romantic hero is a dead serial killer. Yep, you’ve read that right.

Charlie, our obsessed conflicted heroine, witnessed a serial killing when just in her teens. That marked her so much that she decides to study serial killers for the rest of her life. Yep, you read that right too. It is similar to someone one who experienced a shark attack immersing themselves in a shark tank every day for eight to ten hours. Not likely.
Garland our romantic lead starts the tale out alive. It is very important to know he’s the bad boys of all bad boys. He is so good looking and charming that Charlie has to mentally prepare herself for their encounters. Apparently, not everyone at the prison finds him equally hot because one of the prisoners kills him.

The FBI shows up when another killing spree erupts similar to the one Charlie witnessed. Since she is a serial killer expert and she saw the previous killer, then she’s the perfect person to help. Oh, Garland her new ghost friend gets to travel with her. It is job is to taunt her with sexual suggestions and show up while she’s undressed.

This story offends me on so many levels, but let me say first Robards is generally an excellent writer. I have enjoyed several of her tales, but not this one. There are logic holes big enough to drive a semi through. At one point, Charlie remarks she has friends and activities outside the prison, but there is no evidence of any. Charlie is lonely pathetic and difficult character similar to the serial killer groupies who write killers and send them gifts. Garland the ghost can become visible and physical when needed. I never heard that detail bout ghost mentioned before. Charlie tries to justify her action by hooking up with a serial killer ghost by saying he doesn’t seem like he’d do such bad things. Okay, she’s an expert on serial killers, please. Can anyone say Ted Bundy here? Then there’s the whole case against Garland, which of course the police and FBI messed up. If that isn’t enough, you have Charlie blessed with an upright, sweet attractive FBI agent she should like, but she wants the bad boy moods of serial killer ghost Garland. Oh Charlie, can also talk to all the serial killer’s victim, but it never seems to give her enough clues to solve the crime. There are several agencies working around the clock and endless clues, but the killer still manages to kill. There were several times I wondered why I was still reading.

In The Last Victim, I naturally assumed the victim was one of those poor girls killed in the tale. The last victim is the female reader. C’mon Robards, do you believe women are so stupid that they would willingly chuck all they know and experienced for a muscular chest and a bad boy pickup line? This is similar to watching reality television at its worse. Perhaps, this might help readers feel better about themselves because they wouldn’t be this stupid. That is the reasoning behind the loyal viewers of reality television. If you couldn’t tell, I would not recommend this book.
Profile Image for Wynn.
782 reviews10 followers
May 2, 2016
I’m angry over this one. When does a convicted serial killer become a romantic lead? How can the highly educated main character, Dr. Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Stone, even think of having a romantic relationship with convicted serial killer, Michael Garland? She studies these killers for a living. If she studies them, wouldn’t she have access to horrific and graphic crime scene photos? Wouldn’t she have access to Garland’s arrest reports and trial transcripts so she could study his behavior? Plus, Charlie escaped a serial killer as a teenager and now as an adult she wants to be with one romantically? When Garland is murdered in prison, his ghost attaches to Charlie. He harasses her in “spirit”, watches her in private moments, and is generally crude in behavior and language. (Also not romantic). The real romance should have been with the hunky FBI agent, Tony Bartoli. She was attracted to him and he was attracted to her, but she wanted Garland more. I was so disturbed by Charlie’s lust for Garland; I couldn’t stay focused on the murder investigations. Some readers have stated that they didn’t believe Garland was really guilty of murdering women or since he was protective of Charlie he’s a good guy. Even if there is some bizarre twist and he was wrongly convicted, the reader and Charlie are never made aware of it. From the beginning of the book to the end, Garland was to my knowledge a serial killer. I can’t image a twist that would turn him into a good guy. Was he an undercover agent sitting on DEATH ROW investigating the prison system or another crime? Was he set up by his evil identical DNA sharing twin brother? Was he a law student investigating how juries convict innocent men even with DNA evidence?

At times it’s even sillier as Charlie refers to Garland as “Casper” and talks of his return to “spookville”. I realize readers must participate in the suspension of disbelief, but I can only go so far. Sorry, I’ll pass on this absurd series.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Clarry.
114 reviews5 followers
August 11, 2012
Reading an advanced copy from a first-reads giveaway.

Editing notes: Pg 27 (spelling error), 74 (weird paragraph break), 77 (paragraph break), 160 (change between third/first person narration), 215 (sp), 218 (space needed between words), 314 (paragraph break), 317 (missing period).

I love the goodreads giveaways and the fact that they give me a chance to read different genres that I may not otherwise seek out to read. I do not wish to rate this book since I am not personally enjoying it, and don't want to disrespect the author who I'm sure is very popular and enjoyed among the genre. My issue with the novel does not have to do with the quality of the writing or the imagination behind the story, but in the personality of the narrator. There is too much focus on sexual desire, the woman narrator can't pull herself together for two minutes without being drawn to a hot man, who by the way is a serial killer and later is dead. She has mentioned her attraction, but takes the time every page to reiterate how sexy this terrible man is. He's also an ass. It makes her seem weak, flippant, and exemplifies a terrible stereotype of the gender. However, I know people love that kind of style, it's humorous and popular. But it simply rubs me the wrong way, in the "I want to pull my hair out and slap somebody" sort of way.
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