Of late, I’ve been reading thrillers. Today, I inhaled The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave. The story instantly grabbed my attention and held it as I read breathlessly. I had read a few notes about The Last Thing He Told Me, just enough to interest me in reading the story. And I am glad I had read so little beforehand.

Without any preconceived notions, I found myself swept into the story, eager to discover the truth.

Owen and Hannah Michaels appear to have the best marriage possible. Owen, a widower, has a sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey has been used to having her father’s complete attention and is not quite happy about having Hannah invade their lives. Hannah does her best to make inroads into Bailey’s life, delicately, not being pushy. For the most part, however, Hannah’s attempts are brushed aside. Still, Hannah hopes for a change at some point.

Meanwhile, Hannah and Owen are blissfully happy. Owen works for a large startup tech firm and Hannah is a woodturner. She takes a piece of wood and molds it into something beautiful and useful. She has also begun making rustic furniture along with the decorative pieces. Hannah learned the craft of wood turning from her beloved grandfather. She describes herself this way: “I turn wood. That’s what I do for work…. I like to describe it as sculpting, but instead of sculpting clay, I sculpt wood.”

One evening, expecting Owen to come home from work and take Bailey to play practice at school, Hannah recreates a special dish for Bailey in the hopes that Bailey will warm to her a bit. Both Hannah and Bailey find their lives upside down that day. A twelve-year-old girl delivers a note on yellow notepad paper to Hannah. It is from Owen and it reads simply: “Protect her.”

As Hannah waits outside the school for Bailey, she listens to NPR and learns that Avett Thompson, CEO of the tech firm where Owen works, has been arrested on charges of fraud and embezzlement. Is Owen also implicated? Is that why he has disappeared? What is Hannah to think?

When she comes to the car after practice, Bailey brings a large duffel bag and another yellow piece of paper. The bag contains hundreds of thousands of dollars. Bailey reads the note to Hannah: “Bailey, I can’t help this make sense. I’m so sorry. You know what matters about me. And you know what matters about yourself. Please hold on to it. Help Hannah. Do what she tells you. She loves you. We both do. You are my whole life, Dad.”

What can Hannah and Bailey make of these two strange notes?

Life for both Hannah and Bailey becomes stranger and stranger. They are uncertain how to move forward without some answers. Grady Bradford, a US Marshall out of Texas, is the first to question Hannah. Then two FBI agents arrive at her workshop. Hannah has to figure out whom she can trust and what to do next.

Determined to discover the truth and possibly find Owen at the same time, Hannah and Bailey fly to Austin, TX, in pursuit of some answers. They are going on a wing and a prayer because they have almost nothing except a faint memory Bailey has of being in a wedding when she was about four years old. Now, that is a tenuous sign!

As I am fond of mentioning, I have a quite willing suspension of disbelief, so I had no problems with Hannah’s rush to seek answers in Austin even with a tenuous link. Hannah is resourceful and she has Bailey’s best interests at heart. Clearly, she would like to find Owen too; as she discovers bits and pieces, she may realize that is not possible, or will she find him?

Readers looking for a book that will transport them into a haunting mystery, choose The Last Thing He Told Me; you will not be disappointed.

The Last Thing He Told Me is the first book I’ve read by Laura Dave; now I will be seeking out Eight Hundred Grapes and Hello Sunshine to round out my reading.

Visit Laura Dave’s website.

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