The Last Thing He Told Me is the first book I’ve read by Laura Dave. And most likely will be the last. The hyped reviews of the book prompted me to read it. The hyped reviews of the book contributed to my disappointment. I read comments like fast-paced, page turner, plot twists and so on. Here’s how I saw the book.
Unrealistic. Not plausible. Is it too much to expect crime fiction to be believable? In the first chapter, a twelve-year-old girl delivers a note to an address for a fee of twenty dollars. But, only “after practice,” which was fine by her employer, Owen Michaels. It is implied the girl did not read the note. It is implied her parents didn’t know about the delivery. This just seems a tad far fetched. I conjured an image of a man sprinting through a middle school, stopping a girl kid giving her a twenty and trusting her to do what she is asked to do. Maybe schools in Sausalito are lax on security. Would that happen in most school zones around the country? Where I live, school doors stay locked. Parents don’t get in to run the hallways. Right off the bat in chapter one, I’m thrown off balance by the lack of honesty, reality.
The book’s premise is that a computer whiz disappears, when The Shop is raided after a fourteen month investigation of fraud and embezzlement. The Shop is where Owen Michaels works or worked. Michaels goes into hiding for unexplained reasons, because of the raid. He sends a note to his bride of one year, Hannah. The note has two words protect her referring to his sixteen year old daughter, Bailey. After gaining access to a middle school where he hires a sixth grader to deliver the note, Michaels manages to smuggle a duffle bag into Bailey’s high school locker. This is just not reality. Not with shootings and bomb threats sprinkled throughout the school systems of this country. Would a school “official” want to see inside the duffle?
The bag has at least sixty rolls of cash Bailey tells Hannah. Each roll has ten thousand dollars. I can’t imagine how big a roll of ten thousand dollars is. My guess is a roll would take up more room than a stack of the same amount. Anyway, putting a duffle bag in an unattended locker seems careless and irresponsible. Was the locker locked? Did Michaels know the locker combination?
Immaterial? Let’s add that the meat of the story consists of the newlywed wife/stepmother, a woodturner by trade, turns detective. Somehow she thinks Bailey may have clues buried in childhood memories as to why her father chose to disappear and leave Bailey with six hundred thousand dollars. Hannah involves Bailey in the sleuthing. Both lives are endangered, during a trip to Austin TX in search of answers. The one truth both Hannah and Bailey know is that Owen Michaels is not who he claimed to be.
One last point. Backstory is not sprinkled throughout as in many novels. It is delivered in chapters. Ten chapters, which I found distracting and adding little to the storyline.
It’s not a happy ever after ending. But, it’s not a tragic ending either. No spoilers here. Read the book to find out what happens. I didn’t hate the book, but I didn’t love it either. You decide.
PS. If you would like to have my copy of this book for free, send your mailing address in an email. This postscript will be removed, when the book is requested.