Monday, October 4, 2021

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave - a stepmother in jeopardy

Title: The Last Thing He Told Me
Author: Laura Dave
Publication: Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 2021
Genre: Fiction/Suspense
Setting: Present-day California and Texas
Description: Owen is gone. Hannah Hall, an artist who uses wood as her medium, met him a year earlier when the owner of the tech firm he works at bought some of her work. She relocated to Sausalito to live with Owen and his sixteen-year-old daughter Bailey, and until he vanishes, leaving just a note saying, “Protect her,” that she realizes how much she doesn’t know about her new husband and how much he told her was false. As federal marshals and FBI agents pursue Owen and his boss, Hannah and Bailey, reluctantly united, try to decipher the few clues they have to figure out why he is on the run and who he really is.

My Impression: I hadn’t thought about it until this minute but I am always intrigued by books that start off with someone realizing she never knew her husband, father, sibling, etc. Some of the ones I found particularly memorable are High Crimes by Joseph Finder, The Perfect Summer by Luanne Rice, The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle, The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty, The Perfect Couple by Jackie Kabler . . . 

This is a fast-paced story in which Hannah and her sometimes difficult stepdaughter try to unravel Owen’s real identity so Hannah can figure out what they are up against and where the danger is coming from. There are really two mysteries going on – one is the fraud that has been discovered at The Shop, the software firm where Owen is the chief coder and the other is why he lied about his identity – what he has been hiding. I couldn’t help wondering if Hannah’s investigation of his past did more to jeopardize his and Bailey’s safety than simply staying put but I suppose his disappearance would have led to exposure eventually, so Hannah preempted disaster by doing her own investigation. The characters are well depicted, even the minor ones, such as a friend of Owen’s who is cheating on his wife and blames the money he has given his girlfriend on investments fatally made on Owen’s company or even the child who brings Hannah the note from Owen. It is also refreshing to read about a stepmother who is not vilified and who tries to carry out her husband’s trust that she will protect his child, even if I questioned her decisions and the way she resolved the situation.

One thing that did mildly annoy me was that part of Owen’s backstory was he had attended Newton High School and Princeton (p. 143) and anyone familiar with my alma mater knows there have been two high schools since the early 70s. So if you are making up a false background, do your research, because many Ivy Leaguers would ask, “Newton North or Newton South?” and then your cover is blown! Sausalito is probably not a hotbed of former Newton residents or Ivy Leaguers, so perhaps the risk was low there but Owen and Hannah met in Brooklyn.
This is my twenty-fourth book in the Cloak and Dagger Challenge hosted at Carol's Notebook.

Source: Library. 

1 comment:

Lark said...

I like that Hannah and her stepdaughter seem to be working together in this one. Makes me want to read it. :)