The Last Thing He Told Me is a Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Domestic Fiction novel by Laura Dave. “Laura Dave is a master storyteller. Gripping, big-hearted, and twisty, The Last Thing He Told Me takes readers from the very first page and never lets them go.”
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|Book Name||The Last Thing He Told Me|
|Genre||Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Domestic Fiction|
|Recommended Age Rating||13+|
|Date of Publication||4 May 2021|
|No. of Page||320|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster; Book Club edition|
The Last Thing He Told Me Plot Summary
Hannah Hill, a 40-year-old woodturner who makes furniture for upscale clients, narrates this novel. The reader is privy to Hannah’s interior life: her emotions, her memories, and her interpretations of events and estimations of other people. The events take place over four days and in two locations: Sausalito, California, and Austin, Texas.
The chapters toggle between the present and the past, allowing the reader to develop an understanding of both the relationship between Hannah and her husband, Owen, but also of Owen himself, despite the fact that he is physically absent throughout the novel.
Sausalito, California, is a sleepy, waterfront town where everyone knows everyone else. Hannah, Owen, and Bailey, 16, live on a houseboat in the San Francisco Bay. Hannah and Owen have been married just over a year when Hannah receives a note, delivered by a 12-year-old girl, which says, “Protect her.” Thinking Owen is playing a prank, Hannah tries to reach him to no avail.
When she picks up her stepdaughter, Bailey, she hears a report on the car radio that the high-tech company where Owen is the chief coder has been raided by federal authorities. When Bailey gets in the car and dumps a duffle bag stuffed with cash and a note from Owen in her lap, Hannah knows for sure Owen is gone.
Hannah’s best friend Jules tells Hannah she learned about the FBI’s intention to raid Owen’s company from a coworker and tipped off Owen two hours prior to the raid. The next morning, Hannah receives a visit from a US Marshal, Grady Bradford. Bradford says he wants to help Hannah but leaves with the ominous warning that Owen is not the man she thinks he is.
Hannah begins investigating Owen’s life. She searches his laptop where she finds a file containing Owen’s updated will. Two FBI agents arrive to question Hannah and are surprised when Hannah tells them about Grady Bradford’s visit. When they leave, Hannah reaches out to her former fiancé, Jake Anderson, a New York lawyer, who says he will investigate Owen’s past.
Hannah remembers that the US Marshal was from the Austin, Texas office, and recalls Owen acted strangely on occasions she suggested traveling to Austin. She asks Bailey about any possible connection to the city, and Bailey says she has a vague memory of having been in Austin as a small child for a wedding.
Hannah and Bailey travel to Austin. They find the church where they think Bailey was a flower girl and convince the parish administrator to help them, but the administrator tells them the church was closed for renovations in 2008, the only year that makes sense based on Bailey’s memory and age.
Disappointed, the duo pursues another clue about a college professor. Bailey recalls the professor’s name and they visit him. He provides class rosters and tells Hannah he remembers Owen, although he had a different name then because he failed the midterm because he was in love with a woman in the class.
The parish administrator calls back to say she found a wedding from 2008. The two women discover Kate Smith and are stunned by how much she looks like Bailey.
Kate’s brother Charlie still lives in Austin and runs the family bar called The Never Dry. Hannah goes to speak with Charlie, who is suspicious of her interest in his family. When Bailey walks in to find Hannah, Charlie is shocked and calls Bailey “Kristin.” Charlie becomes enraged and Hannah and Bailey flee.
Hannah discovers Owen’s real name is Ethan Young, he was married to Kate Smith, and Bailey—whose real name is Kristin—is their daughter.
Nicholas Bell—Kate’s father—was a defense attorney known as The Good Lawyer for his work on behalf of his clients. He got involved with drug traffickers who worked for a crime syndicate.
For 30 years, Bell defended the criminals, but he lost a big case, and a week later, Kate was killed in a hit-and-run accident in broad daylight. Ethan blamed Bell and his employers; because Ethan had insider information about the crime syndicate, he turned the state’s witness against Bell and the crime syndicate. Bell went to prison along with 18 members of the crime syndicate; Ethan took off with Kristin, changing their names and creating new identities.
Hannah remains convinced Owen would never leave unless it was the only way to protect Bailey. Hannah meets Bell and discovers both he and the crime syndicate still have vendettas against Owen.
She learns from Bradford that Owen and Bailey were supposed to enter Witness Protection after Owen testified against the crime syndicate, but their new identities were compromised, so Owen took off and created their new identities himself.
Hannah wants Bailey to keep the life she has now. A clue relating to Bailey’s piggy bank results in Hannah’s asking Jules to investigate it. Jules opens it and tells Hannah that inside the piggy bank’s internal safe is a copy of Owen’s will, with Hannah listed as Bailey’s guardian.
After meeting with Bell and learning of his intentions toward Owen, Hannah makes the difficult decision to forgo Witness Protection and return to Sausalito with Bailey even though she knows this means Owen cannot be part of their lives.
As the story ends, several years have passed. Hannah is at a design showcase for the furniture she makes when she receives a visit from a mysterious man still wearing the unique wedding ring she made him: It’s Owen. As Owen departs, Bailey arrives to meet Hannah for dinner and calls her “Mom.”
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave Review
A suspenseful, addictive, and surprisingly emotional mystery about family and love.
The Last Thing He Told Me is a mystery/domestic suspense about a man living a lie and his wife and daughter who struggle to discover who he really is?
When Hannah Hall receives a note from her husband stating nothing more than “Protect her,” one random afternoon, her whole world shatters.
Her husband Owen has disappeared without a trace, and she soon learns that he was not the man she thought he was. Charged with taking care of her contentious stepdaughter, Bailey, she and Bailey slowly begin to investigate Owen leading them to danger and a startling revelation.
This was my first Laura Dave book, and she hooked me right from the start. Her writing style, the characters, the plot, and the pacing felt authentic. Hannah narrates events in the present moment, but we also get flashbacks to her marriage to Owen.
It helped that Hannah doesn’t feel sorry for herself. Her emotions are subtle, real, and honest.
While the mystery of Owen’s past is intriguing, the strength of this book lies in the characters. This is not as much about Hannah’s relationship with Owen, but more about her relationship with Bailey. I didn’t love the epilogue, but it does offer some closure. Overall, I absolutely loved this book and can’t wait to read more by Laura Dave.
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave Characters
- Hannah Hill
- Kate Smith
- Nicholas Bell
- Jake Anderson
- Grady Bradford
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Simon & Schuster
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