#SheReviews The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

February 1, 2022


Can you ever really know someone in their entirety? What if the person you married wasn’t who they led you to believe they were? What if your entire relationship with your partner was based on a lie?

These are the persistently smouldering questions raised in American author, Laura Dave’s, latest gut-churning thriller, a novel called “The Last Thing He Told Me” (a Reese Witherspoon – American actress and producer- Book Club pick).

In the novel, our forty-year-old female protagonist, Hannah Hall, has been married to her husband, Owen Michaels, for a little over a year, and Hannah lives with Owen and his sixteen year old daughter, Bailey, on a houseboat situated on a picturesquely serene bay in Sausalito, a “small Northern California town”. 

On a predictably ‘normal’ day, a twelve-year-old girl knocks on the front door, and hands Hannah a note with Hannah’s name on the outside, which the young girl says was given to her by “Mr Michaels” (Owen) when he ran into her at the local school, and asked the young girl to drop the note off to Hannah. Owen has cryptically written only two words – which startle and confuse Hannah. The two words are simply “Protect her”.

At this time, Owen has not shown up at the houseboat for dinner, and is eerily not answering his phone. It is at 8 p.m. that night that Hannah hears on the radio that Owen’s company that he works for (a “tech firm” called “The Shop) is being investigated “by the SEC and FBI into the software start-up’s business practices”, and that a raid has taken place at the business that day after a “fourteen-month investigation”. The news bulletin also explains that Avett Thompson, the CEO of The Shop, has been arrested. 

Hannah is starkly incredulous that her safe anchor of a husband has ‘taken off’ so abruptly and with no warning or word to Hannah or Bailey. Owen has also purposefully and yet somewhat mysteriously left a “duffel bag” full of “hundred-dollar bills” (adding up to “six hundred thousand dollars”) in Bailey’s locker at school, along with a note which says in part, “You know what matters about me. And you know what matters about yourself. Please hold on to it”.

Despite Owen’s seemingly glaring guilt at this stage, Hannah holds on to the fact she feels she knows to be true; that “He (Owen) wouldn’t leave Bailey”.

Subsequently, a U.S. Marshal, Grady Bradford, turns up annoyingly (for Hannah) at her and Owen’s residence seeking answers regarding Owen, and trying to get Hannah to believe that Grady was on the same ‘page’ as her in matters pertaining to this case. The perplexing thing, though, for Hannah is the fact that Grady is based in Austin, Texas; not locally.

Does the benign, yet ‘happening’, town of Austin hold the answers that Hannah and Bailey seek about Owen’s past, and who he in fact might really be? As Hannah comes to realise, and expresses sadly to Bailey, “There are things your father hasn’t told us beyond what’s going on at The Shop”.

When Hannah and Bailey fly full of trepidation to Austin and begin making inquiries regarding Owen, and who he might have previously been, around town, Hannah fearfully comes to realise that “We’re in over our heads”. 

Can Hannah and Bailey shine light for themselves on Owen’s past, and find the key to what is causing Owen to ‘disappear’ so profoundly and resolutely from their lives? Are there dark forces at play that they know nothing about? Can there possibly be any positive resolution for Hannah and the love of her life, Owen, and the at times emotionally hostile Bailey?

I devoured this enthralling rollercoaster of a novel by Laura Dave. It has at its heart a mystery of epic proportions, underscored by a father’s love for his daughter and husband’s love for his wife; and their love for their father and husband. This is the perfect book for reading late into the night. The twists and turns are many, and the ending is one you won’t see coming. On a side note, American actress Julia Roberts is set to star in a television series based on “The Last Thing He Told Me”. The series is going to be produced by ‘Hello Sunshine’ (the production company run by Reese Witherspoon). I can’t wait for the television series! This book is a fantastic read that will stay with you long after you have turned the last page.

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