Title: The Last Thing He Told Me
Author: Laura Dave
Publisher: Viper Books
Date of publication: 4 May 2021
Genre: Mystery & Thriller
Format reviewed: NetGalley ARC
Number of pages: 320
Notes: Chosen as a Reese Witherspoon Book Club novel
IT WAS THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME: PROTECT HER
Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his new wife, Hannah: protect her. Hannah knows exactly who Owen needs her to protect – his sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. And who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.
As her increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, his boss is arrested for fraud and the police start questioning her, Hannah realises that her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey might hold the key to discovering Owen’s true identity, and why he disappeared. Together they set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realise that their lives will never be the same again…
Never had I read a book that so profoundly moved a part of my heart that is protected by sky-high walls. I bounded with Hannah quickly thanks to the excellent prose of the author which created a bridge between us.
Hannah is strong but fragile, her past left her with no real map or manual on families. Yet, she is now in love, married, and a stepmother. Not all is well under the blue sky of Sausalito, California, though. Her relationship with Bailey, her husband’s daughter, is strained. It felt strangely natural to relate to her story. I do not have a sixteen-year-old teen to take care of, neither do I have a lovely hubby called Owen, but something in Hannah triggered something in me. Her urge to create a connection with Bailey was sincere, pure, and echoed through the pages as much as her love for Owen…
Owen, or the man who disappeared, leaving behind a cryptic note “Protect her” Despite the suspicions raised by his sudden departure, I never really believed Owen to be a bad guy. In all honesty, I did believe that living this story through Hannah’s point of view was bound to taint my opinion, yet… Yet my guts were screaming that things were not black and white. And they are not.
Laura Dave beautifully threaded a story of love around a heart-breaking mystery. I was intrigued, obviously, but the fuel that kept me reading came from the characters themselves. My connection to Hannah, my hope for answers and a happy ending, left me with no other choice than to forget everything else and absorb this piece of fiction that deserves all the praise it is getting.
The accuracy of the exploration of three relationships moved me deeply. They tugged at my heartstrings and gave me hope. A father with his daughter, a husband and wife, and a stepmother and stepdaughter. Can a father put his daughter first? Can true love still be found? Can love be built by two people only united by the love they share for the same person?
The intensity of the plot, both in terms of feelings and intrigue, make this novel the most delicate, strong, and taut thriller I have read. I have a new favorite. It’s The Last Thing He Told Me. It’s more than another thriller, more than a new piece of fiction. It’s the adrenaline-fuelled blood sent to your heart with dizzying speed, pushing the emotional resonance of each word to the very edge.
Can Hannah and Bailey find the answers they need? And face the questions that await them? I won’t give anything away, but this vital relationship gave me hope in so many ways.
I can’t wait for the movie adaptation, but I’ll cherish the novel forever.
Do yourself a favor and grab your copy right now!
My biggest thanks to the Viper Books team for inviting me to be part of the book tour and for providing me with an e-copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.
Laura Dave is the national and international bestselling author of Eight Hundred Grapes and other novels. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times; O, Oprah Magazine; Ladies’ Home Journal; Glamour; Redbook; Self; and the New York Observer. She resides with her family in Santa Monica.