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.
I heard that there was some hype around this book, and indeed the waitlist in the library was quite lengthy on this one. That being said I didn’t know much about it going in aside from its synopsis, so I still count it as one that I just “picked off the shelf.” Maybe I’m just coming off a streak of not-so-great reads, so this one just suddenly felt amazing to me. But mostly I think I just related to the themes and therefore enjoyed it a lot.
The Last Thing He Told Me is a mystery-type novel with suspense elements. A vague descriptor I know. But essentially our protagonist, Hannah, a lowly woodturner from New York, meets her husband Owen and starts a new life with him and his daughter Bailey in California. In the face of a crisis at Owen’s work, he mysteriously disappears and leaves behind a few cryptic messages for the family that he has left behind. As more and more mysteries pile up in Hannah’s pursuit of her husband, more secrets threaten to unravel her life as she knows it.
This novel is quite short, and a very fast-paced read too. The storyline mostly takes place in the present, with a few chapters sequentially further back in time, giving more backstory on her relationship with Owen. I found the pacing of the book enjoyable, and the way the flashbacks give sequentially more information was really well executed.
The book also felt really well planned out in terms of the way the events play out and the way information was given. I didn’t really have trouble remembering any details given to me, yet there was also enough to be shrouded in mystery so I didn’t see things coming from a mile away. The foreshadowing was also great in this book, and the ominous feeling of foreboding was well incorporated.
The mystery/thriller part of the novel is a little bit less by-the-book. It wasn’t really the most thrilling, nor the most mysterious. So if you’re the type of reader looking for that, I wouldn’t really get too wrapped up in this one. I’ve heard it said that this book also wasn’t the most realistic. I didn’t really have a problem with it—I thought it was reasonably realistic, and didn’t feel that it was ridiculously unbelievable.
What struck me the most was the themes of family that were in this book. That’s always a theme that I like seeing explored, and it was interesting how the ending wasn’t what I expected at all. This was a good example of a satisfying ending that didn’t feel too out of the blue nor irrelevant to the main story. It almost sat as kind of an inevitable ending, which really brought me on an emotional journey that I enjoyed.
I’m giving it the full five points here because overall the pacing was great and the suspense elements were just enough to keep me reading ahead. I also enjoyed the themes and the way the author wove in the present and past plots together to come up with a coherent ending. There’s even some Easter eggs in the book if you’re observant enough! I definitely recommend this one.
The Last Thing He Told Me is about our protagonist, Hannah, living her new life in Sausalito with her new husband and his daughter, when everything goes south. Her husband’s company gets in trouble, and her husband disappears. As she searches for him, more and more secrets from the past begin to be revealed. Why exactly did her husband run? Find out in this exciting fast-paced thriller/mystery, filled with many themes of family and difficult choices, and how it will all culminate together at the end. If you enjoy emotional journeys (with slight thrills), this will be the book for you!