Sometimes to find yourself, you have to go back to where you came from.
You just might not like what you find.
After failing in his new life, Luke decides to go home, back to the one place where he’d once felt he belonged. But that was a long time ago and now he has to face the life that he chose to run away from: The Combine. The gang that his uncle now leads, but which his father still runs from prison. Brutal, unforgiving . . . family.
Reunited with his childhood friend Callie and tagging along on jobs with her and her boyfriend Pretty Baby, Luke soon discovers that he might have a place back home after all. When another gang try to encroach on their turf, The Combine and Luke must go to war to save all that they know.
But in trying to be someone you’re not, can you ever find out who you really are?
Hi and welcome to my review of The Last King of California!
It was most definitely the cover that made me take notice. Then the title, which intrigued me. And the blurb sealed the deal. It’s no secret I’m fond of small-town settings, extra kudos if they’re located in the desert. I’ve also mentioned before that Sons of Anarchy is one of my favourite TV-shows of all time, and I had a feeling that The Last King of California might be able to scratch that itch.
The Last King of California is about the Combine, a gang in Southern California. They consider themselves a family, but also a crew. They steal cars and sell drugs, they’re more than petty criminals but they make sure not to draw the eye of the DEA or FBI or any other agency.
The story is told from two points of view: Callie and Luke. Callie is 22 and has been part of the Combine for literally ever. She loves the family but she’s getting tired of the dead land that is SoCal and maybe she’s found a way to make easy money so she can grab her man and get out of there. Luke is 19 and the prince of the Combine: it’s his dad who started it all. He hasn’t been in California for over a decade, not since he was 7 and witnessed his dad kill a man in cold blood. Circumstances and bad choices have driven Luke back home, but is blood really thicker than water?
I decided to try The Last King of California on for size, get in a few chapters before bed to see what was what. Boy, did I come to regret that! I was hooked from the very first chapter and I had to force myself to put it down and get some sleep, promising myself I’d binge it the day after. Which, for the record, I did.
I had such a great time with this story. Sons of Anarchy meets Breaking Bad meets Animal Kingdom, let’s face it, there are not enough books out there that rock that kind of combo. Add the kind of atmospheric setting that reminded me of Chris Whitaker’s We Begin at the End and that’s me sorted for an afternoon of ignoring the real world.
I loved seeing things from Luke’s perspective, the boy who got away from a life of violence and crime but came back. And I loved how vulnerable but tough Callie turned out to be. I was definitely rooting for them both.
If you like your crime thrillers tattooed, riddled with bullets and covered in a fine layer of desert dust, this is without a doubt one for you!
The Last King of California is out now in the UK.
Massive thanks to Simon & Schuster UK and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own.