The Last Saint by Annette Sobolak

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

The Last Saint by Annette SobolakWhat is a saint? There’s the classic definition, that, among other things, calls for the person to have performed at least two miracles. The vast majority of us, however, could never be classified as saints, no matter what some of us might claim. Some of us come close to being saints, in that we put up with a lot of terrible stuff in our lives, including horrendous behavior from our spouses. But, if you tried to do your best, to be moral, to be church-going and law- abiding, what would it take, what would be the final straw, to make you snap, to lose your saintliness? That’s the question that author Annette Sobolak asks in her tense and psychologically powerful debut thriller, The Last Saint.

Ever since she was a little girl, Mariella DiDomizo’s father told her: “Heaven doesn’t accept murderers.” Her father blamed her for killing his wife, whom died giving birth to Mariella. Her death could possibly have been prevented if he had got his wife medical attention sooner, but he thought he was putting his faith in God, and so his wife died. Mariella’s father conditioned her from the time she was an infant to feel guilty for her mother’s death. He was a strict disciplinarian, also, beating her and her older sister Helen for the slightest infractions of his rules, ones which changed as he saw fit. He even sometimes beat them with an iron poker.

Helen eventually had enough, and ran away when she was fourteen. She attempted to convince Mariella to come with her, but Mariella was both too cowed and too scared to do so. Also, she still felt love and respect for her father, who at least put food in her stomach and a roof over her head.

Unfortunately for Mariella, the first young handsome guy she saw was Dominic DiDomizo, who worked at his father’s restaurant. She fell in love with him, and before long, they got married, and she eventually ended up having five kids. In some cases, this could have turned out to be a good thing, and for years, Mariella believed she had it good–a handsome husband who loved her and would never lie to her or cheat on her, and five beautiful children to dote on. But, Mariella discovers in The Last Saint that Dominic (Dom) isn’t the man she has thought he was, and when she does, the truth devastates her.

I don’t want to spoil the plot by giving too much of the story away, but Mariella’s doubts begin when Dom comes home one night in his Mercedes and he and his clothes are bloody and the front end of the car is crumpled up, as if he’s been in an accident. He urgently asks Mariella to collect all of the clothes he’s wearing in a garbage bag and take it somewhere to burn them. He claims he’s hit a deer, but he’s also been drinking alcohol, and doesn’t want the police to ask embarrassing questions. Mariella’s nightgown gets some blood on it, too, so Dom tells her to take it off and burn it, along with his clothes, while he takes a shower.

She does as Dom has told her to do, but doesn’t burn her nightgown or all of his clothes. She keeps them in a box at the back of her closet. Also, Mariella sees a something in the car’s grill that looks like a piece of scalp with hair attached to it, not the hide of a deer. She puts this first into her pocket and then into the box, as well. From this point in the book on, Mariella distrusts her husband, and she starts to believe that if Dom had hit someone with his car and killed him or her, then she was also complicit in the murder. She thinks that her father’s words are right about her, even if she didn’t murder her mother.

Mariella checks up on Dom at the restaurant one night, when he is there with his friends, whom she considers to be vile, loud-mouthed bad influences for her children to be around. When she looks into a window, she sees a prostitute giving a lap-dance to her husband. Her worse fears have been realized – not only is the man she fell in love with and married possibly a murderer, but he’s also lied to her and cheated on her. What’s more, Dom has talked their oldest son, Dom Jr., into working at the restaurant instead of going to college. Mariella believes that all of her children are tainted and doomed, because their parents are both sinners.

With every chapter, the suspense and tension keeps building. Her sister Helen comes back into her life, and tries to help Mariella, but Mariella doesn’t trust her, and accuses her of trying to take over her household. The Father at Mariella’s church tries to comfort her and offer her advice, not knowing what’s really going on, but his well-intentioned efforts probably cause more harm than good. That’s because Mariella turns to the Bible for answers, and she misconstrues certain passages and takes them out of context. She’s also been hearing her father’s voice talking to her, though he’s been dead for years.

The Last Saint is a tense and exciting psychological drama that will have you on the edge of your seats wondering what Mariella will do. It’s about a woman who thought she had it all, despite having a terrible childhood, beaten often by a domineering father. It’s about a person who lives her life almost like a saint would, taking problems in stride, going with the flow, trying to do the best she can to be a loving wife and mother. But, as Mariella learns, there are limits to everything…..if you love mysteries and thrillers, you should add The Last Saint to your reading lists today!

Disclosure in Accordance with FTC Guidelines 16 CFR Part 255


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