The Last Thing He Told Me
Updated: Feb 3, 2022
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐
"We all have stories we never tell.
Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her.
Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.
As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.
Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they are also building a new future. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated."
The Last Thing He Told Me is a standalone mystery novel by Laura Dave.
This book was the 2021 Goodreads Awards winner for the mystery & thriller category, so I was expecting this, at the least, to be a decent story. In all honesty, this was kind of just...boring?
Nothing of much substance happens in this which made the story rather bland and lacking flavour. The mystery element wasn't as intense as I was expecting it to be, and there was no build-up of tension (or any tension at all really).
Let's get into the details.
I have some complaints about the writing but, overall, I sailed through this pretty easily. I did find the text to be rather chunky to the point of going on a tangent at points. There would also be blocks of text that were just overly descriptive without giving you any needed information.
Something minor that I did like is the fact that there were actual chapter titles. Nothing against books that follow the numerical format, but I like it when the title of the chapter gives you a hint at what's to come (without spoiling an
Let's deal with this right off the bat - there is nothing thrilling about this novel. There were some stakes, but nothing high enough that would denote that this can be considered a mystery thriller. That is what made this book boring for me, the lack of any kind of tense atmosphere or storyline.
What this also comes down to is that this wasn't a good take on the 'he isn't who you think he is' trope. In fact, instead of properly focusing in on that trope, I felt like this was more of a story about the main character trying to get her stepdaughter to like her. That was pretty much what this story was about...
The big reveal was anticlimactic and nowhere near as riveting as I was expecting it to be. It was like the story was flatlined the entire time, as the sense of urgency on the part of the characters wasn't prominent enough. It also took a decently long time, almost half of the book, to pick up the pace a bit. To make things worse, everything is revealed way earlier than I was expecting it to as well.
The events that occurred in this story, from the beginning all the way until the end, were a bit ridiculous to me. I just couldn't wrap my head around the decisions the character made. By the time I got to the end, I sat there and just thought, 'that was it'? Everything that happened in this was just too clean and convenient, even despite the reckless decisions.
I don't think the way the story was told failed at adding an extra layer of intrigue. It is told non-chronologically, with most of the story being told in the present time but with small segments of past events. The parts that went back in time would have been a great tool in order to give hints as to what is going on, but mainly they just focused on Hannah and Owen's relationship, which added nothing to the story.
Hannah, our main character, was simply not an interesting character to follow. In fact, no character in this was particularly interesting. I think what could have made the story a bit better was to make this a dual perspective including Bailey, the stepdaughter's, perspective. I think even adding Owen more to the story would have added another layer.
I just didn't think that this story had much going for it. As I said before, I was expecting something different than a flat mystery and the struggles of a stepmother trying to get her stepdaughter to like her.
I honestly don't know if I would recommend this book, but if you do end up picking it up, just keep in mind that this feels more like a drama with some mystery elements than a mystery thriller.