The Last Nightingale: A Novel of Suspense (Paperback)
San Francisco, 1906. The great West Coast city is a center of industry and excitement-and also, to many, of sin. When the Great Earthquake hits, some believe it is the day of reckoning for the immoral masses. Meanwhile, twelve-year-old Shane Nightingale is witness to the violent deaths of his adoptive mother and sisters-not from the earthquake, but at the hands of a serial killer. As Shane wanders the city appearing to be just another anonymous orphan, he keeps what he has seen a secret. But when his path crosses that of Sergeant Randall Blackburn, who is in pursuit of the killer, the two become an investigative team that will use both a youth's intuitive gifts and a policeman's new deductive techniques and crime-fighting tools to unmask a vicious murderer whose fury can be as intense as that of Mother Nature herself.
"Every historical mystery tries to hone in on the ideal setting at the perfect moment in time. Anthony Flacco succeeds on both counts in his first novel ....Flacco imagines the chaos in precise and vivid detail while contributing his own distinctive narrative touch.
--Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review
..".Few literary depictions of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake match the intensity and visceral power of those in Flacco's gripping first novel. The author's screenwriting talent shines in this story of the earth's destructive power and humanity's moral depravity. ...The emerging maniacal personality, revealed in increasingly gruesome and venomous detail, rivals the Ripper....Dickens meets Hannibal Lecter. Brace yourself."
"Screenwriter Flacco nicely evokes the aftermath of San Francisco's 1906 earthquake in his fiction debut, a novel of suspense."
--Publisher's Weekly "The author does an excellent job of providing a historical novel blended with fiction with the 1906 earthquake as a big part of the story. This one is a real page-turner and I look forward to more in this series. This book is highly recommended.
--Nancy Eaton, EZineArticles.com
..".A fast-moving tale of serial killing.... where Flacco especially shines is in his depiction of the two children, newly orphaned Shane Nightingale and the plucky girl who calls herself Vignette... It's clearly deserving of a very wide audience.
--Sarah Weinman, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind "The Last Nightingale" is the beginning of what could be a fascinating series.
Overall, "The Last Nightingale" leaves you anxiously awaiting the next installment.
--The Freelance Star "A marvelous page-turner of a thriller set against the fascinating aftermath of the great 1906 earthquake and fire."
-- James Dalessandro, bestselling author of 1906. "Set in a world on the edge of Armageddon, this is a gripping and completely original thriller that will raise the hair on the back of your neck."
-- William Bernhardt, bestselling author of Capitol Threat "From its opening pages-when we are plunged headlong into the terrifying chaos of the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906-to its riveting climax, The Last Nightingale offers an abundance of those page-turning pleasures readers seek in historical thrillers: a time-trip through a richly
imagined past, a story that never loosens its suspenseful grip, and a fascinating look at the roots of modern forensic science."
-- Harold Schechter, author of The Serial Killer Files "Atmospheric, chilling, and with more twists and turns than crooked Lombard Street. The Last Nightingale has it all. I couldn't put it down."
-- Cara Black, author of Murder On The Ile St. Louis
THE MORTALIS DOSSIER Each book from Mortalis will include the author's special Dossier at the back, wherein the author steps from behind the narrative mask and speaks in detail upon a single aspect of the story. This is the Dossier from "The Last Nightingale." ---- A MILLION TINY SLAPS TO THE HEAD -- The first known investigative procedure that can accurately be called a "criminal profile" is frequently attributed to Dr. Thomas Bond in the late 1880s. The London physician was called in to examine the body of Mary Kelly, one of Jack the Ripper's more savagely disposed victims. Initially, Dr. Bond was only asked to determine whether or not the victim's remains indicated that the perpetrator had any surgical skill, but the doctor was so horrified by the intensity of the crime that he stayed on to reconstruct the event and develop a speculative description of the killer.
This approach was so unprecedented that there was not even a name for this new system of thinking about the relationship between an individual personality and a specific crime. However, in spite of the apparent novelty, the insights that Dr. Bond employed are all, at their essence, part and parcel of the timeless human capacity for wisdom. The same quest drives the appreciation for the psychological aspects of crime fiction. Avid readers of crime fiction have eyes honed for the vagaries of human personality.
Dr. Bond based his work upon (a) inferences taken from the crime scene; (b) the condition of the victim's body; and (c) the random nature of the crime. History tells us that Bond's work did nothing to reveal the identity of The Ripper. Nevertheless, in terms of engendering a whole new way of thinking about the psychology of crime, it was and still is a wellspring that serves anyone who searches for greater understanding of human behavior by accumulating insights into its most deviant forms.
Since the methodology of profiling is one that guides an investigator to a deeper and more three-dimensional view of an unknown subject, those same tools are equally effective in deepening the way in which crime fiction is written. This is part of what makes it so appealing to contemporary readers.
The more commonly known aspects of the field of criminal profiling have entered the Western world's zeitgeist to the extent that the general public now possesses a language for delving more deeply into motive and into personal point of view in the telling of a story than it has at any time in our past. Today, a well-considered characterization of a criminal profiler will show a flawed individual with feet of clay, perhaps in many ways little different from the quarry.
Perhaps largely due to the effects of TV and film, most people today realize that the reputation for "dark arts" being behind the methodology of modern profilers is simply the result of the startled amazement that often greets a good profiler's conclusions. The prosaic reality is that the professional profiler merely employs a system of thought created to help investigators think unthinkable things while they do intolerable work, and yet remain focused on their goals and their job functions. The patterns that a profiler is trained to study are the result of thousands of bits of information accumulated over generations of law enforcement experience regarding how criminal behavior tends to work.
The skilled profiler questions how the given criminal behavior (as indicated by the crime scene) served the perpetrator during the commission of the crime. Just as important, the profiler asks how such needs in the perpetrator may have been caused in the first place. Writers of crime fiction have learned to answer these questions also, because modern readers of crime fiction are far more sophisticated about criminal psychology.
Unfortunately, at the same time that public awareness of the profiling field has grown, the use of the word "profiling" in the media has sometimes taken on a churlish political tone. It's not difficult to see why. Today, that word has been distorted until it covers a range of meanings.
It might refer to the specific field of behavioral analysis taught at the FBI academy, or instead to the use of overbroad physical descriptions for targeting a certain group, or it might even describe the sparking point for spontaneous outbursts of stranger-on-stranger violence. Whether or not these uses of the word are accurate in any given example, as an aggregate they have imparted a politically incorrect aroma to the word profiling that the core concept does not deserve. The fact that certain people or media organizations misuse any term or topic does not diminish its value in more earnest and capable hands.
So let's assume that today, those capable hands belong to you, reader. Let's hunt for the meaning of the idea of "profiling" as it applies to you and to me, regardless of what the folks at Quantico are teaching their recruits. And why not? You are a reader of mysteries, ready to pursue the answer to a puzzle through a menagerie of dark fantasies, are you not? Thus you may be "profiled" enough to deduce that you employ a number of skills in your reading and in your daily life that you would also be employing if you were to profile someone in the most educated use of the term.
Scientific profiling simply provides an experimentally verified structure for utilizing natural insights into human behavior. You, reader of mystery fiction, a born profiler, may have figured that out already.
The old-school name for it was "learning to be a solid judge of character," or words to that effect. But the skill set starts about as far down the mammalian chain as you care to go. You can pick any single example among all the conscious creatures and still be assured that if that creature gets rudely slapped in the side of the head every time it turns to the right, it will eventually adopt a movement pattern that consists primarily of left-hand turns.
It is self-evident that all living things must be expected to choose behaviors that.
About the Author
Anthony Flacco is the author of The Hidden Man, The Last Nightingale, and two nonfiction books: A Checklist for Murder and Tiny Dancer. He began his writing career as a staff writer at several prominent Chicago theaters. He was selected for the highly prestigious American Film Institute fellowship in screenwriting and received his MFA in screenwriting in 1992. He was the recipient of the AFI Paramount Fellowship Screenwriting Award for his script The Frog's Legacy, and was selected as a winner of the Walt Disney Studios Screenwriting Fellowship. He then spent a year writing for the Touchstone Pictures division. Anthony is a member of the Writers Guild of America, Mystery Writers of America, and the International Thriller Writers organization. He lives on Bainbridge Island off the coast of Seattle.