Another Review at MyShelf.Com

The Last Nightingale

by Anthony Flacco


Renowned screen-writer, Anthony Flacco starts his first novel off with a gut-wrenching, intense account of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. It leaves the burning city in rubble with police Sgt Randall Blackburn leading a patrol to begin burying the many dead before a plague begins.

The city of San Francisco , and particularly the Barbary Coast neighborhood, had been cursed by a serial killer, dubbed "The Surgeon," and thought to be a woman.  The Barbary Coast is Blackburn 's beat, and he is determined to bring this killer to justice. 

Twelve-year old Shane Nightingale hides in the closet, while The Surgeon murders his adopted mother and two sisters. Shane develops a pronounced stutter as a result of witnessing the slaughter, and is virtually unable to speak. After reading of an unrelated murder in the paper, Shane instinctively knows who the murderer is and sends a note to Sgt. Blackburn. Based on that note, Sgt. Blackburn is able to break down the wife who is suspected of killing her husband, and get a confession. Impressed by Shane's insights, Sgt. Blackburn seeks him out and a bond develops between the widower, Blackburn , and the orphan. Then when Mary Kathleen, another very resourceful orphan, who deserts the orphanage, and changes her name to Vignette, convinces Shane that she is his half-sister, they join forces.

The killer has other issues with Shane in surprising developments and plans to add him to his list of murders. The exciting multi-level plot with unexpected evolutions in this story makes it impossible to put down.  The characters are compelling, colorful, and fully developed.  I loved the main characters, and really hated the devious, depraved killer.  Flacco's inimitable style is smooth and the delivery electric.  I hope we can expect more from this very talented writer.


The Book

Mortalis/Ballantine/Random House
June 12, 2007
Trade Paperback

10: 0812977572

13: 978-0812977578

Historical Suspense
More at

The Reviewer

Beverly J. Rowe
Reviewed 2007
© 2007