The Last One To See Her by Mark Tilbury #BookReview #BlogTour

He says he is innocent. So why did he lie?
Mathew Hillock was the last person to see eleven-year-old Jodie Willis alive. When her dead body turns up four days later in his garden shed, the police think he’s guilty of her murder. So do most people in the town. But there’s no DNA evidence to link him to the crime.  
Battling the weight of public opinion and mental illness due to a childhood head trauma, he sinks into a deep depression. 
Can Mathew do what the police failed to do and find evidence linking the real killer to the crime?
The Last One to See Her is a terrifying story of what happens when you’re accused of a crime and no one believes you are innocent. 

It's such a pleasure to be closing the blog tour for The Last One To See Her today. Many thanks to Mark Tilbury for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

If there's one thing I know when it comes to Mark Tilbury's books, it's to expect to see the worst of humanity and The Last One To See Her definitely doesn't disappoint! The disappearance and subsequent murder of a child is something that drives fear into the heart of most people but what happens if you're suspected of being the perpetrator? And what if you even doubt your own innocence?
Matthew Hillock and Jim Bentley are in exactly this position and as the novel progresses, suspicion falls upon them both. It's much easier to feel sympathy for Matthew; he appears to be a gentle young man despite his mental health and developmental issues caused by a terrible head trauma he survived as a child. He seems to be harmless and spends his time working with his mother in her Book Café or talking to his pet tortoise, Tortilla. It's impossible not to like Matthew or to feel for him as his safe little world is ripped apart and there are some powerful scenes which vividly capture his tormented state of mind. In contrast, Jim Bentley is thoroughly unpleasant and immediately makes a bad impression when he cruelly mocks Matthew in the local corner shop. Jim is a violent alcoholic and drug addict with a prison record, and there are several moments in the book which confirm that he is definitely not the sort of man anybody would want to trust with their daughter.
Matthew and Jim were the last people to see Jodie Willis alive after she went on a short errand to buy milk for her mum from the corner shop. Both men claim they are innocent but both suffer periods of memory loss and so when questioned about their movements on the day Jodie was killed, the accounts they give aren't necessarily the full truth.  Mark Tilbury cleverly kept me guessing until very late in the novel as to who the killer actually was and also made me question my own biases as I really didn't want Matthew to be responsible but had to face the possibility that he could have done it. 
There are some deeply shocking scenes which will be difficult to read for some people and this probably isn't a book for anybody who prefers to avoid particularly dark violence. However, I didn't feel it was gratuitous in any way; the horrific acts are described after they have taken place rather than the reader actually bearing witness to the violence as it happens. The Last One To See Her may not always be easy to read but the horror is vital to the plot as it exposes just what some of the characters are capable of, including a few passages which give us a thoroughly chilling glimpse into a disturbed mind.
I did manage to work out who the killer was before it is disclosed in the story but I think that's the point as the clues are there and it meant I raced through the dramatic events of the final chapters, desperate to discover what would happen when the murderer's identity was eventually revealed. There are some really moving scenes too, particularly involving the mothers. The emotional turmoil of Jodie's mum, Alison is painful to witness as she swings from desperate hope to abject despair after her worst fears are realised. Likewise, Sonia Hillock's anguish is only too relatable as the town, reeling from the tragedy and impatient for vengeance, turns against her and her vulnerable, beloved son as she confronts the awful possibility that he may be guilty.
The Last One To See Her is a gritty, dark and disturbing mystery with an intriguing plot and a compelling, distinctly voiced cast of characters. I loved that it is set in Feelham again and that a murder from one of Mark Tilbury's previous novels, You Belong To Me is mentioned. I don't know if this will be our last visit to this seemingly cursed village but I have no doubt that I'll be going wherever 'Twisted' Tilbury's devious mind takes us next!

The Last One To See Her can be purchased from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Don't forget to check out the posts from the other bloggers on the tour, details are below.

About the Author

Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised. After being widowed and raising his two daughters, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused. 
He's always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have had seven novels published by Bloodhound Books. His latest novel, The Last One To See Her was published on 4th June 2020.
When he's not writing, Mark can be found playing guitar, reading and walking.