Reviews for The Last Commandment

Library Journal
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DEBUT Just before he's set to retire from Scotland Yard, Austin Grant has three murders to investigate in one week. Austin keeps one clue quiet: mysterious numbers have been carved on the victims' foreheads. His brother, an Oxford professor, suggests that the numbers could be from the Ten Commandments, so Austin sends a warning to priests and London's churches shut down. Then Scotland Yard gets a call from NYPD detective John Frankel about a new victim, in St. Patrick's Cathedral. Austin flies to New York, hoping to reunite with his journalist daughter Rachel, from whom he's been estranged since his wife's death a year earlier. Austin, John, and Rachel team up to investigate, but they can't prevent a fifth murder. When they suspect an infamous old case of Austin's might lead to the next death, they all return to London in time for Christmas, but not in time to prevent the case from taking a terrible personal turn. The intensifying, suspenseful investigation ends in a shocking, made-for-TV reveal. VERDICT Shepherd's first novel reflects his years as a TV writer (The Equalizer; Miami Vice.) The fast-paced story and twisted villain will appeal to fans of crime dramas.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

This is the first mystery novel from Shepherd, a veteran TV writer and producer (Murder, She Wrote; The Equalizer; and Kojak), and it’s a real corker. Austin Grant is a commander with Scotland Yard. He’s recently widowed, and he’s three weeks from retirement. His last case is also his toughest: someone has murdered three people in the space of a week, and the victims—a lecturer at Oxford, a sculptor, and a washed-up rocker—seem to have nothing in common. And, then, suddenly, they do, and Grant thinks he knows who the fourth victim will be. Unfortunately, the fourth victim turns up in, of all places, New York City. So Grant heads off to NYC to catch a serial killer. Shepherd plays the fish-out-of-water game quite nicely, never being too obtrusive about it, and Grant, who could have been a stock cop character, is intriguing and carefully drawn. The book’s cover calls this “An Austin Grant of Scotland Yard Novel,” which suggests there will be more, and that’s a very good thing. Good idea, expertly executed.


Publishers Weekly
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Shepherd (Descending Son) makes his mystery debut with a disappointing series launch in which Scotland Yard’s Cmdr. Austin Grant, who’s on the verge of retirement, investigates three related murders. The victims—an Oxford professor, a sculptor, and a former rock star—are linked only by their killer’s m.o.; each was garroted before a knife was used to mark their foreheads. For the academic, the murderer left one vertical slash, adding one more for each additional victim. Grant’s brother, a colleague of the professor, notes that the musician’s band was named the Blasphemers, and theorizes that the mutilations are connected to the 10 Commandments. The Commandment Killer later strikes in New York City, impaling a priest on a cross in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. That development sends Grant overseas, where he teams with the NYPD and reunites with his estranged daughter. The predictable plot builds to an unsurprising reveal. Clichéd prose (“Rachel realized she didn’t have to go all the way down to Palisades Park to know that she was falling in love”) is also a negative. Few genre fans will look forward to the sequel. (July)


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

This is the first mystery novel from Shepherd, a veteran TV writer and producer (Murder, She Wrote; The Equalizer; and Kojak), and it’s a real corker. Austin Grant is a commander with Scotland Yard. He’s recently widowed, and he’s three weeks from retirement. His last case is also his toughest: someone has murdered three people in the space of a week, and the victims—a lecturer at Oxford, a sculptor, and a washed-up rocker—seem to have nothing in common. And, then, suddenly, they do, and Grant thinks he knows who the fourth victim will be. Unfortunately, the fourth victim turns up in, of all places, New York City. So Grant heads off to NYC to catch a serial killer. Shepherd plays the fish-out-of-water game quite nicely, never being too obtrusive about it, and Grant, who could have been a stock cop character, is intriguing and carefully drawn. The book’s cover calls this “An Austin Grant of Scotland Yard Novel,” which suggests there will be more, and that’s a very good thing. Good idea, expertly executed.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A serial killer seems to be taking his cues from Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen. The first victim is a visiting Oxford don, the second an East End sculptor, the third a has-been rocker. They seem to have nothing in common except for the successive Roman numerals carved into their foreheads. Commander Austin Grant of Scotland Yard can’t imagine what could possibly link them all until his brother, Oxford philosophy professor Everett Grant, points out to him over a game of chess that each victim had notably broken one of the Ten Commandments. Since the most likely candidates for the role of fourth victim are priests who are working on the Lord’s Day, Grant sends out a veiled nationwide warning that improbably shuts down myriad houses of worship, but it does no good; the killer simply hops the pond and executes a priest inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral. High-tailing it stateside after his quarry, Grant makes contact with NYPD Detective John Frankel and Rachel Grant, the journalist daughter who’s been estranged from him ever since her mother’s death from cancer. Shepherd isn’t afraid of clichés, and the obsessively choreographed murders are complemented by an interfering reporter, the detective’s buried family secret, his looming retirement on New Year’s Day, true love blossoming in the unlikeliest places, and the death of whichever suspect seems the most obvious candidate for the role of “the Commandment killer” on a given day. Readers may be surprised early on, but many of them will figure out whodunit well before Grant. A fast-paced tale that weds its golden-age homage to some serious violence. Sinners beware. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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