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The Last Witness
W.E.B. Griffin and William Butterworth IV

G.P. Putnam's Sons
Currently Available / ISBN 9780399162572

Reviewed by Elise Cooper

The latest book, The Last Witness, in the Badge of Honor series (written by the legendary author W.E.B. Griffin and his son William E. Butterworth IV) is a very insightful novel. It is a story of corruption, the difficulty in fighting it, drug cartels, and the violence connected with them. Both father and son discuss their books.

The main character, Philadelphia homicide detective Matt Payne, has been brought onto a case involving a connection between the Mexican drug cartels and the Russian mob. These organizations lure teenage girls away from their foster homes, and ultimately smuggle them into a sex trade operation. Some of these girls are being murdered and the one surviving witness has gone underground. Payne knows that finding this witness is critical to solving the case. He must find her before the Russians, the cartels, and some of Philadelphia's most powerful mobsters get to her first.

Butterworth IV wants readers to understand the importance and realism of this plot. He hopes they will view this as a warning about the drug cartels, that they are not just in the Border States and cities, but within the interior of the US. "I was getting depressed as I wrote about the viciousness of the cartels. 90% of this book is based on fact, but we did not want to preach, but to tell it as a story, which is why we had as a character a Texas Ranger that spoke from his experiences. At the end of the day we wanted to make a point and have an entertaining novel."

Both father and son enjoy writing together and never see it as a problem. They are able to converse back and forth, mainly through emails. In comparing the two, Griffin noted, "I know more about the army than Billy does, while he knows more about the cops than I do. Yet, we both contribute to all of the series."

They also gave a heads up about their next few books. This December will be the last book in the Presidential Agent series. Since Griffin has written a series of twelve M*A*S*H books with Richard Hooker, the real Hawkeye, he decided to use that format for this book by turning it into a satire with humor.

The authors are transitioning The Honor Bound series to a new series, starring Jim Cronley, that goes back to Cold War days and how the Americans fought the Communists, titled End of Innocence. Griffin commented, "Fortunately I am in a position that I can write what I choose. I want to inform since a lot of people don't know about this era of our history."

After reading The Last Witness people will be able to learn the facts and question the reality of events. This entertaining novel allows for a way of visiting events in this country that are often overlooked.

Reviewed 2013