Title: The Last To Know
Author: Jo Furniss
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Date of publication: AUGUST 11th 2020
Genre: mystery, thriller
Format reviewed: ebook (NetGalley)
Number of pages: 318
A family’s past pursues them like a shadow in this riveting and emotional novel of psychological suspense by the Amazon Charts bestselling author of All the Little Children.
American journalist Rose Kynaston has just relocated to the childhood home of her husband, Dylan, in the English village of his youth. There’s a lot for Rose to get used to in Hurtwood. Like the family’s crumbling mansion, inhabited by Dylan’s reclusive mother, and the treacherous hill it sits upon, a place of both sinister folklore and present dangers.
Then there are the unwelcoming villagers, who only whisper the name Kynaston—like some dreadful secret, a curse. Everyone knows what happened at Hurtwood House twenty years ago. Everyone except Rose. And now that Dylan is back, so are rumors about his past.
When an archaeological dig unearths human remains on the hill, local police sergeant Ellie Trevelyan vows to solve a cold case that has cast a chill over Hurtwood for decades.
As Ellie works to separate rumor from fact, Rose must fight to clear the name of the man she loves. But how can Rose keep her family safe if she is the last to know the truth?
I love books that leave me speechless. Proper speechless. It takes a lot for this chatterbox to be at a lost for words. It’s even less common for an author to manage to sear new words into my mind, beautiful quotes that reach my core and stay there. I’ll also admit Jo Furniss expanded both my vocabulary (a dream for any language lover) with perfectly formed descriptive paragraphs that never carried the weight of unnecessary details, and my reader’s mind with an intricate and tightly knotted plot that my eyes and fingers followed with relish.
In case it is not crystal clear to you yet, I loved The Last To Know.
The first lines drew me in and the narrative didn’t let go until the very last word. If you believe a prologue is never a good idea, check out how this novel opens!
This story is told through two very different perspective, equally fascinating.
One voice belongs to Rose Kynaston; American, journalist, woman, wife, mother. Rose has followed her husband to his childhood village. Everything looks and sounds strange, different, and Rose is wrapped into a fog. Can she make this place her new home?
The second point of view is from local police sergeant Ellie Trevelyan. The area is her home. Her sick dad was a police officer here before her. All she knows is here. The dark beauty of this part of England has no secrets for her.
Two sides of a coin. Two women. Their connection: a land and its history.
Rose first encounter with England knocked the breath out of me. Her sense of standing at the end of the world, in a foreign country, an outsider looking in, resonated with me. It felt as if the gloomy landscape reflected her feelings, making it even harder for her to feel welcome. Dylan’s childhood home doesn’t help either and I couldn’t blame Rose for her lack of enthusiasm! Jo Furniss’ flair to hook the reader and transport them to a place and time in a few words is impressive, but it was the way she got me invested in her characters that really made me fall entirely in love with this book.
Don’t tell me you’ve never fallen so hard for a crime fiction novel that you carry the story and its protagonists with you long after you’ve finished reading. If it never happened to you, that’s another reason you NEED to read The Last To Know. Let me explain a little more…
At first sight, Rose and Ellie are polar opposite.
Rose is married, has agreed to relocate to her husband’s old house, and is the proud mother of a clever boy. She sounds like so many ordinary women around the world. Her being American brings a little exotic side to her. Okay, I admit I really liked this detail, only because one, I related to Rose as a foreigner in the UK, and two, because no matter who their president is, I’m always happy to get an American POV. It’s a personal preference.
Ellie has seen the worst a career in the police force can offer. She is haunted by the cases she worked on. Her life is bare albeit for what makes her heart both hurt and pump furiously: her job. Devoted daughter, she cares for her father whose mental state is declining every day. Yet, they have more in common that meets the eye. They both have survived dangerous situations, and are living with the ghosts that come with them. They are courageous and driven, something that links them without their knowledge. Most importantly, they are both looking for home.
Because The Last To Know, despite being a crime fiction, with a superb plot and enough tension to make me eat all the candy in the house, is first and foremost an hymn to our roots and what they make of us. Rose and Ellie are trapped in the past, for different reasons. How can you settle if you keep looking back?
If Rose thought Hurtwood House looked threatening and Dylan’s mother scary on the edge, it was nothing compared to the effect her married name has on the inhabitants of the village. The Kynaston dynasty leaves a metallic taste in everyone’s mouth, but no one is willing to let Rose in on the reasons why. Just like Rose, I was first curious, then felt it in my stomach… The key to understand Hurtwood Mansion lay in the past. I was in for some digging!
“No truth in the rumors, but also no smoke without fire. Rumors are like that; hot air requires a source of heat.”
With every hint dropped by the author, ten more questions arose. If I wondered how Rose and Ellie’s paths would cross, I soon got a picture. Blurry, but firmly anchored in the place. Dylan’s father had been involved in a scandal, and a new case forcing Ellie to reopen old wounds ignited a spark that got my pulse racing. I am torn. I wish I could go into details, dissect every word, every chapter, and point exactly what made me tick, what made me cringe, what makes The Last To Know a true crime fiction, and more. But I will not. It kills me but I hate spoilers! The mystery is thick enough to keep you awake at night. The stunningly wrought plot is rendered twice as efficient thanks to a masterfully crafted characterization of every character present in the novel. You won’t find gritty murders and bloody crime scenes, but Jo Furniss doesn’t need gory scenes to keep you hooked. Rose’s determination to understand what is hidden behind her husband’s history, and Ellie’s tenacity to close her case are the main engine leading the story to an epic finale. Their desire to do what is right based on the information they have is the fuel that lights up the darkness of the village. They must find it in themselves to swim in muddy waters to find what it means to finally, finally be home.
In a nutshell, The Last To Know is excellent. The writing is impressive; the prose seeps into your heart. Jo Furniss found the way to turn crime into something personal, intimate; a tectonic plate moving in slow motion to reveal the bare truth, wrapped in tension with the tightest knot!
Favorite Book Alert
Pub date is far away, I know, but you can pre-order! I did it and can’t wait for my copy!!
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley. This review is my unbiased opinion.
After spending a decade as a broadcast journalist for the BBC, Jo Furniss gave up the glamour of night shifts to become a freelance writer and serial expatriate. Originally from the United Kingdom, she spent seven years in Singapore and also lived in Switzerland and Cameroon.
As a journalist, Jo worked for numerous online outlets and magazines, including Monocle and the Economist. She has edited books for a Nobel laureate and the palace of the Sultan of Brunei. She has a Distinction in MA Professional Writing from Falmouth University.
Jo’s debut novel, All the Little Children, was an Amazon Charts bestseller and one of the Top 50 Kindle titles of 2017. Her second novel, The Trailing Spouse, was released a year later. The Last to Know is out in August 2020.
Jo currently lives on the south coast of England, where she is writing a novel about sinister events at a school on a cliff.