Title: The Last Thing to Burn
Author: Will Dean
Published: January 12th 2021
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Crime, Mystery
Rating: 4.5 stars
He is her husband. She is his captive.
Her husband calls her Jane. That is not her name.
She lives in a small farm cottage, surrounded by vast, open fields. Everywhere she looks, there is space. But she is trapped. No one knows how she got to the UK: no one knows she is there. Visitors rarely come to the farm; if they do, she is never seen.
Her husband records her every movement during the day. If he doesn’t like what he sees, she is punished.
For a long time, escape seemed impossible. But now, something has changed. She has a reason to live and a reason to fight. Now, she is watching him, and waiting …
Will Dean is a British author who now resides in rural Sweden. From the surrounds of a tranquil elk forest, Dean has diligently penned a number of novels. The Last Thing to Burn is Will Dean’s latest triumph and it is the first novel I have read by this rising crime writer. The Last Thing is Burn is an intense, dark and revealing read, highlighting the plight of those who fall victim to human trafficking.
For a woman who is now only known as Jane, life is a matter of constant survival. Jane is at the complete mercy of her husband, a man who has held her captive at his isolated farm cottage. With no where to run to and no one to call on for help, Jane is trapped in a nightmare existence. As Jane’s husband continues to watch on with intense scrutiny, Jane knows she cannot escape this hellhole, but she has hopes of eventually being reunited with her sister. But every time Jane puts a foot wrong, no matter how small the indiscretion, her husband punishes her. However, a change in Jane’s circumstances might just offer a form of escape, if she can survive.
It was a pleasure to be newly acquainted with the writing of Will Dean, thanks to his new release The Last Thing to Burn. Based on my positive experience with Dean’s latest novel, I will definitely be returning for another Will Dean fix. I was soon taken in by Dean’s sparse but mesmerizing prose. Although I sat rigid while reading this book, I found myself quite in awe of the storytelling abilities of this talented author.
The Last Thing to Burn tackles some pertinent but distressing themes. With the spotlight placed on the awful business of human trafficking, the reader gains a great deal of insight into this difficult to absorb world. Dean’s approach is full of sensitivity, but also honestly. It is clear that Dean has conducted a significant amount of research on this prime subject matter and the result is a storyline packed with realism. It hurt at times to read Jane’s fictional testimony, but I think it is essential that readers learn to understand that Jane’s experiences are unfortunately active in our society, across all corners of the world.
Thanks to Dean’s spare but absolutely gripping prose, the storyline unfolds through careful allotments. We are privy to Jane’s innermost thoughts, feelings, physical ailments, abuse, hopes and fears. These are all brought to light via the first-person style perspective format that defines the structure of The Last Thing to Burn. With Lenn, Jane’s cruel husband, we see a monster of a man from a distance. Lenn is clearly a damaged and confused individual. Lenn’s fixation on his deceased mother was deranged, but also very sad. The way in which Lenn channels his mental problems and weakness into his treatment of Jane is utterly inexcusable. This poor excuse of a man really got under my skin and I definitely wanted karma to catch up with Lenn!
Dean is a writer who is skilled at developing and sustaining a taut atmosphere. My body remained completely stiff for the duration of this novel, I never seemed to relax, as the shocking events played out in a very visual sense. I could easily see this book developed into a screen version, it definitely has the right qualities to transfer onto the screen. The audience hopes and prays that Jane will make her lucky escape. I valued the plot twists and development of character that provided the conditions for Jane to make her move. The final turn of events will have you begging for it all to end. I was shocked and surprised more than once by the conclusion.
I’m not surprised that author Will Dean of The Last Thing to Burn has been shortlisted for a number of awards. Dean’s writing is addictive, propulsive, gritty and compelling. The Last Thing to Burn is a book that will haunt me for some time to come and it is a novel that I would recommend to crime fans.
The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean is published by Hachette Australia on January 12th 2021. $29.99.
To learn more about the author of The Last Thing to Burn, Will Dean, visit here.
*Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.