The Last Move by Mary Burton – Book Review

The Last Move by Mary Burton – Book Cover

Mary Burton is the author of dozens of romance novels. This fact alone might scare off many crime readers from picking up The Last Move. However, if you enjoy living dangerously, go ahead and give it a try.

The Last Move: A Decent Serial Killer Thriller

If you’ve already read a thousand crime novels where some vicious madmen is murdering innocent American citizens, it might be hard to surprise you. Mary Burton doesn’t really manage to do so either. But that’s not necessarily a problem, as it doesn’t seem to be her goal.

There’s a minor hiccup, though: theoretically, the Samaritan is already behind bars, but we’ve seen enough copycats, mentees trained by serial killers, or wrongly convicted criminals. It’s up to Dr. Hayden and Mazur to figure out which category the Samaritan falls into.

Minimal Romance Factor

Naturally, the protagonists have to work together. And here Burton surprises us: neither of them is unbearable, they don’t hate each other, and they don’t immediately want to rip each other’s clothes off. Instead, they work together excellently. Both are smart and dedicated, so it’s no wonder they develop a mutual attraction, right?


But don’t worry, there’s nothing saccharine sentimentality in Burton’s book; the attraction grows out of mutual respect. That Mazur is also charming and masculine is probably just a COINCIDENCE…

Dr. Kate Hayden, on the other hand, isn’t someone you’d fall in love with at first sight: she’s a tiny, gray little figure; cold and distant, with a slightly robotic personality and a barely flickering sense of humor. (Which is my absolute type.)

Fans of Mary Burton will likely be biting their nails until The Last Move gets to its single sex scene, but at least that scene compensates them. Those who aren’t die-hard fans of Burton might think that the scene could have been cut to about half its length. But let it be. And it does reveal—without which we would obviously never have known—that beneath Dr. Hayden’s dark suit lies a daring spirit. (I’m telling you: this woman is really my absolute type!)

The Last Move Could Be More Surprising

I’m not talking about the book as a whole, but about the villain’s last move. It’s as if they just give up. It’s an unusually lame move for a dedicated serial killer.

Mary Burton’s book is driven by the relationship between the two main characters. And this dynamic works so well on its own that you end up paying more attention to their dance around each other with much greater interest than to the investigation itself.

The investigation into the Samaritan is also well-developed, hitting all the obligatory notes, but Burton makes two minor mistakes: first, she reveals the identity of the pair’s adversary well before the book’s end. Okay, they still can’t find the wretched villain anywhere, but it does dampen the mystery and excitement.

Second, while the crime initially seems like a simple revenge spree, it’s much more convoluted than it first appears. However, instead of unraveling this complex plan through numerous twists, Burton settles for a brief explanation at the book’s end. This surely feels like a missed opportunity.

Instead, she resorts to the all-too-familiar personal involvement of the cops and the obligatory showdown, seen countless times at the end of similar novels. (Fortunately, she doesn’t mess up the latter—unlike Chris Carter, who often does even in his better books like An Evil Mind.)

The book titled The Last Move is a competent crime novel where, oddly enough, you’ll find the evolving relationship and slowly awakening attraction between the two main characters even more intriguing than the investigation of the serial killer. All executed with commendable restraint and professionalism by romance novelist Mary Burton.

Rating: 7.8/10

The Last Move (Criminal Profiler #1) by Mary Burton
327 pages, Paperback
Published in 2017 by Montlake Romance

Leave a Comment