Laura Dave | The Last Thing He Told Me

The Book: 

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
Published: May 2021 by Simon & Schuster

Torrie’s Rating:


The Plot (Goodreads):

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.

Click here for book spoilers for The Last Thing He Told Me
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read The Last Thing He Told Me, I suggest you turn back now.

Hannah and Bailey both remember odd references to Austin, TX, so they decide to go there and investigate Owen’s past. In Austin, they learn that Bailey’s maternal grandfather worked for an organized crime group as their lawyer. Bailey’s mother was killed in suspicious circumstances which Owen blamed on the organized crime group, but the grandfather disagreed. To protect Bailey and avenge his wife’s death, Owen testified against the grandfather and the crime group. Many involved went to jail, including the grandfather.

Owen know the Organized Crime Group would be after him and Bailey, so he changed their names, and they moved away to California. Bailey’s birth name was Kristin, and Owen’s name was Ethan. Owen had originally planned to enter Witness Protection, which is how he met the US Marshall, but ultimately their new identities were leaked, and Owen disappeared on his own.

Hannah realizes she has two options to move forward with Bailey – enter Witness Protection and hope their cover isn’t blown again or make a deal with the grandfather for Bailey’s safety and allow them to continue their current lives. The catch is that Owen can only join them in Witness Protection as the grandfather cannot and will not protect him under the deal. Hannah believes that Owen’s note [“Protect Her”] meant to not trust Witness Protection. Additionally, Hannah doesn’t want to make Bailey give up her life as she knows it. Hannah decides to decline Witness Protection, which means Owen is forced to stay on the run.

At the end, Hannah and Bailey are living happy lives without Owen, though Owen secretly stops by to check in.

Torrie’s Review:

I think most people would really enjoy this book, so I’d really give this 3.5 stars. I felt the book was a bit slow and got a bit lost. There were loose ends that I felt weren’t formally tied up well – we were just left to assume Hannah’s guesses were correct. There were also some red herrings that they did a poor job of resolving, they just died. I did enjoy the resolution, I felt that it was unexpected and unique. I felt that the main mystery was not that much of a mystery as it was pretty obvious why Owen ran early on. Also, why is the shady business called “The Shop”? This name sounded like a nickname or placeholder that never got replaced. As a woodturner, it would make sense if Hannah’s business was “The Shop”, but to call a software company the helps you erase your past “The Shop” is just strange.

Here are what I consider to be loose ends and unresolved red herrings:
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read The Last Thing He Told Me, I suggest you turn back now.

  • The grandfather references that Owen isn’t as perfect and good as you think multiple times, leading the reader to believe he did bad things with the grandfather. Hannah assumes it is the fact that Owen knew about the Crime Organization from early on and only stopped it once his wife died, but this is never truly confirmed
  • The US Marshall is very sketchy, and we are led to believe he is getting something out of this that we aren’t aware of. He pushes Hannah to enter WitSec too much and refuses to respect her decision. It is never made clear why he feels so strongly.
  • There is never a resolution about how Owen & Bailey’s covers were originally blown and why they couldn’t enter WitSec the first time they ran.
  • Is Bailey ever told that Wit Sec with her father was an option? Was she pissed that she had no say in this?!
  • It is mentioned that Avett might have something on Owen or know his true identity and that’s how he got Owen to go forward with the fraud, but this is never confirmed.

To say I have outstanding questions is an understatement. Again, I think many people would enjoy this, I really liked Hannah and Bailey’s characters, I just wish the story moved at a different pace and had a cleaner resolution.

*After writing what I thought was a reasonable, though strongly opinionated review, I found out this book won 2021 Best Mystery & Thriller on Goodreads. My standards for Mysteries & Thrillers seem to be a bit too high, I can’t remember the last time I reviewed something in this genre as 5 stars, so take my reviews with a grain of judgmental salt.

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