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(Column) Rice: Just Another Gal from Casper – Reading ‘The Last Laugh’ and ‘The Initial Insult’

Kate Rice


Tress just witnessed a gory death — of a man trying to kill her. Ribbit’s preparing a homecoming bonfire to scorch the popular kids that’ve long tormented him…

Aaaaaand, it was time for me to put the book down and go to work. Drag!

The book is The Last Laugh by Mindy McGinnis, the second in a duology. The first book, The Initial Insult, was…good. Intense. But it was a lot of set-up. This book is just as intense, and a lot more interesting to me. 

The story’s set in Amontillado, Ohio. Modern times, but from storylines to town and character names, there’s a trail of Edgar Allan Poe a mile long. Still, you don’t have to know much about Poe to enjoy this tale. 

Tress Montor’s parents disappeared seven years ago while taking her childhood bestie Felicity home one night. Felicity claims to have no idea what happened, but Tress isn’t buying it. In The Initial Insult, Tress is sick of her white trash life with an alcoholic grandpa who expects her to take care of herself and the wild animals in his sketchy exotic animal attraction. So…

She kidnaps her former BF and begins bricking her into the coal chute of the old Allan house – during a rager. With a panther on the loose. And a virus sickening partygoers. Her cousin Ribbit, who’s kinda everyone’s butt monkey, provides an unwitting distraction for her actions; he can’t hold his alcohol, and the livestreamed video of him answering every embarrassing question thrown at him goes viral. All the while, Tress demands answers from Felicity, with calamitous results. 

Then, The Last Laugh kicks into high gear. Turns out Ribbit isn’t as dumb as he seems, and he’s way more disturbed than anyone could have guessed. He’s determined to be the one to find the now-missing Felicity. Tress is operating with a guilty conscience and an infected arm (that loose panther, yo). Told from both Tress’s and Ribbit’s points of view, family secret after family secret is unburied, each one more messed up than the last. At several points, I was sure some of the unhinged plots would be thwarted…and not all of them are. It’s that unpredictability that makes this book hard to put down. And, there’s quite the grisly body count. 

Intrigued? Head to downtown Casper’s Wind City Books for The Initial Insult and The Last Laugh. Wind City has an amazing selection of lots of genres (I really dig their Young Adult Fiction), and they’re happy to order stuff as well. Stock up on your summer reading list now, or visit online at windcitybooks.com.