2021 Reviews · contemporary fiction · crime

Book Review: The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

Title: The Last Thing He Told Me

Author: Laura Dave

Published: May 4th 2021

Publisher: Allen & Unwin (Profile Books)

Pages: 320

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Crime

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 4 stars

With its breakneck pacing, dazzling plot twists and unforgettable characters, The Last Thing He Told Me is bestselling author Laura Dave’s finest novel yet, certain to shock you with its final, heartbreaking turn. This propulsive thriller with a heart is perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng.* SOON TO BE A MAJOR TV SERIES STARRING JULIA ROBERTS *

‘Brilliant. Pacy tense and twisty’ – LISA HALL

‘I adored this beautifully written thriller’ – JO SPAIN

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…

Review:

‘We are here together and we both want to keep going. We both want to find Owen, whatever he has been hiding – wherever he is now.’

Laura Dave is a new face to me, but she has already experienced a great deal of success as a writer. The national and international bestselling author of Eight Hundred Grapes, this Santa Monica based writer now has Julia Roberts assigned to star in her new novel The Last Thing He Told Me. To be produced by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine company, I was keen to delve into this one. The Last Thing He Told Me is an engrossing domestic suspense tale, with a strong family connection focus.

Laura Dave’s novel follows the strange disappearance of Owen Michaels, a devoted family man, who leaves his new wife a perplexing note asking Hannah to protect his daughter. Hannah knows that Owen will do anything for his daughter Bailey and Hannah is committed to fulfilling her promise to Owen to protect Bailey. Owen’s teenage daughter Bailey suffered a great loss as a young child, losing her mother in tragic circumstances. But Bailey is very resistant to her father’s new wife and she refuses to let Hannah help her in any way. As Hannah tries to contact Owen and retrace his steps, Hannah is astounded to learn that Owen’s boss has been arrested on fraud charges. Soon after the authorities arrive, their questions make Hannah very nervous about her husband. As Hannah and Bailey try to locate Owen, they realise must work together if they are to solve this strange disappearance.

Every so often I enjoy taking a break away from the pressure of my review books and I like to explore books recommended by Reese Witherspoon. The Last Thing He Told Me appeared on Hollywood superstar Reese Witherspoon’s book recommendation list earlier this year and I finally made the effort to read this domestic crime title. I found The Last Thing He Told Me to be a very addictive and fast read. I managed to knock it off in a night, it was a solid page turner that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The Last Thing He Told Me is a well-paced read, which is carefully relayed over two different timeframes. The whirlwind narrative charts family man Owen’s disappearance and the events leading up to his exit. Flashbacks to the past provide key details and pertinent clues around Owen’s case. I appreciated the flips back to the past, as these sequences provided a deep insight into many aspects of Owen, Hannah and Bailey’s past experiences. As the cogs started turning, I wasn’t sure where this one was going and I had no idea at all of how I was going to solve this domestic mystery – Laura Dave definitely sent me in a spin! Readers will find that this story is not a zippy suspense thriller, so do not expect to be taken on a wild ride with Laura Dave. The Last Thing He Told Me is a slow burn style mystery, that gradually issues the audience with clues and steps to follow with the women Owen left behind to help solve this man’s mysterious departure. I enjoy these types of thrillers and this one was no exception.

Laura Dave chooses to devote a significant portion of the novel to character analytics and relationships. We observe the evolving connection between Bailey and Hannah as the story unfolds. This was the most satisfying aspect of The Last Thing He Told Me. It was interesting to bear witness to a strong-willed and distant teenager who didn’t want to let her new stepmother into her life. As stepmother and stepdaughter work together to try to get to the bottom of Owen’s disappearance they are drawn together. The burgeoning relationship between Bailey and Hannah is powerful to observe and it was very rewarding to see the barriers break down between these two characters. Dave did a great job with this area of her novel.

In terms of the central mystery, Dave definitely duped me. I had a few theories and ideas building in my head about Owen’s shock exit, but in the end, my attempts to solve the central mystery were pretty useless! There are some shocks, surprises, twists, turns and reveals planted by the author that keep you on your toes. The ending was quite moving and I didn’t anticipate the book to close in this direction. Laura Dave has composed an excellent domestic suspense tale.

Domestic noir is a genre that continues to flourish. The Last Thing He Told Me is a compelling story that easily slots into domestic crime/suspense genre. I highly recommend Laura Dave’s novel and I look forward to catching the miniseries when it releases.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave was published on 4th May 2021 by Allen & Unwin/Profile Books. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Last Thing He Told Me, Laura Dave, visit here.

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