I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been busy writing books, and then I read a book I can’t stop talking about, so here I am. The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave SLAYED me. Let’s talk about it.
The Last Thing He Told Her
Readers of this blog may or may not know that I am a writer. I’m researching a new project that I will be starting next year, and as a writer does, I’m currently studying the market. The market being mystery. There are many sub-genres within mystery. Amazon classifies The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave under Women’s Detective Fiction, so it fits the bill for my purposes.
The plot starts off with a bang. Hannah’s husband disappears after his firm is embroiled in a scheme to trick stockholders into thinking their stock is worth more than it is. But don’t worry. The husband left a note, and all it says is Protect her.
Characters on a Stage
Again, readers of this blog will know I love character-driven fiction. One of the reasons this mystery book destroyed me was it immediately tells me I don’t know these characters nor will I ever. Hannah’s husband is not who he seems, and she’s left with a mercurial teenage girl to look after. All of this gives me as the reader little hope of figuring out who the characters really are. And I loved it!
My perception of Hannah’s husband continued to change throughout the book. And yet, a solid core of the character stayed throughout. So while some things changed, others stayed the same. The effect was unsettling, and only served to heighten the tension of the mystery.
Add the classic teenage stepdaughter. What was brilliant about Dave’s writing is she didn’t play the stepdaughter in a typical stereotype. Like with her other characters, Dave feeds us little insights to Bailey’s character, shedding light on who she truly is, leaving the reader wanting more as we know who Bailey could be.
What Happened Next
I loved that this mystery had little involvement from authorities. This is not a police procedural weighed down by policy and the law. This was a story about the raw, turbulent, and sometimes explosive reactions of human nature. This mystery pitted human against human, and I genuinely didn’t know who would win until the very end. Even then, I’m still not sure. This is the kind of book where you reach the last page, and yet you’re haunted by the impression that the author is secretly keeping more pages hidden somewhere and will only launch them on you when you least suspect it.
I don’t do spoilers, but I want to talk about the very last word of the book. This is a mystery novel. It is riddled with twists and turns. You’ll often ask whodunit. But none of that is the point of the story.
This mystery book will force you to ask yourself the question: what would I do if I were Hannah?
You can’t help it. You’re at the mercy of the book. If you were in Hannah’s situation, what would you do? Bailey is not your daughter. You’ve only been married for less than two years, and you suddenly discover your husband’s life is a lie. What would you do?
With the last word of the book, Dave sends it home. The entire meaning of the story comes to a point in a single word, and the reader is left breathless.
The Last Thing He Told Me had the power to pull me out of my writing cave, and for that, it deserved a post. So here it is. This mystery book left me raw and questioning, and quite frankly, a book hasn’t done that to me in a long time. Go pick up this book. You won’t regret it.