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The Last Kid Left begins when a car smashes into a sculpture of a giant cowgirl. The police find two bodies in the trunk. 19-year-old Nick Toussaint Jr. is arrested for murder, and after details of the crime rip across the internet, his 16-year-old girlfriend, Emily Portis―a sheltered teen who’s been off the grid until now, her first romance coinciding with her first cellphone―is nearly consumed by a public hungry for every lurid detail, accurate or not.

Emily and Nick are not the only ones whose lives come unmoored. A retired police officer latches onto the case. Nick’s alcoholic mother is thrust into an unfamiliar role. A young journalist who left her hometown behind is pulled into the fray. And Emily’s father, the town Sheriff, is finally forced to confront a monstrous secret.

The Last Kid Left is a bold, searching novel about how our relationships operate in a hyper-connected world, an expertly-portrayed account of tragedy turned mercilessly into entertainment. And it’s the suspenseful unwinding of a crime that’s more complex than it initially seems. But mostly it’s the story of two teenagers, dismantled by circumstances and rotten luck, who are desperate to believe that love is enough to save them.


National Public Radio (Best Books of the Year): "Virtuoso bursts of language and characterization and insight... Who killed the hell out of this nice small-town New England doctor and his wife? And why? That's more than enough to keep the plot of a thinner novel going all on its own — but Baldwin isn't done. He's barely getting started..."

Apple iBooks (Best Books of the Year So Far / Best Books of the Month): "A bullet train of a novel... We tore through this ambitious story, which pivots among multiple characters and viewpoints – as well as emails, texts, and news articles – to make a modern American gothic... Smart, shocking, and insightful."  

Vanity Fair ("What to Read Right Now"): "Rosecrans Baldwin drives a modern murder mystery in The Last Kid Left.”

The Los Angeles Review of Books: "A coming-of-age tale so decisively of our time that it’s almost surprising that it doesn’t rely on a dystopian veneer to carry its themes. It is a wonder and a pleasure to see a work of fiction that so honestly, accurately, and effortlessly belongs to the here and now in ways that neither trivialize its horrors nor play them to their apocalyptic hilt."

Entertainment Weekly (Best Books of the Month): "When teen Nick is arrested for murder and the case goes viral, both his family and his girlfriend are thrust into the spotlight." 

The Wall Street Journal (Best New Fiction): "The opening chapter dramatizing Nick’s arrest is a barnburner."

The Los Angeles Times: "Bracing... The Last Kid Left is The Scarlet Letter by way of one of Michael Connelly’s Bosch novels, one part study of herd mentality and one part procedural... A close study of the unknowability of human behavior." 

Library Journal: "If The Scarlet Letter were reported to TMZ."  

Publishers Weekly: "A well-crafted mystery... Readers who like plenty of character analysis in their crime fiction will be satisfied." 

School Library Journal: "Just the thing for compulsive mystery lovers."

Book Page: "Without spoiling the ending of this finely wrought thriller, Baldwin’s novel steers clear of tidy endings, remaining faithful to delivering a story that ebbs and flows with the messiness of real life." 

Food52: "It's a total page-turner, as it starts with the discovery of a double murder, but uses that as a way to explore relationships in the time of social media and hyper-connectivity." 

Chapter 16: "Baldwin mixes voices, point of views, historical accounts, lists, text messages, and drafts of Leela’s magazine story, complete with footnotes, in a dizzying rush straight to the end of the novel. He fleshes out his Roshomon-esque narrative with a huge cast of finely drawn secondary characters"

Vol. 1 Brooklyn: "Rosecrans Baldwin’s new novel examines the way that true-crime narratives can obsess our culture — and, given the way that cultural commentators have begun to delve into the ethics of this, it seems to be coming at exactly the right time."

Photo: Reiner Girsch