The Last Thing He Told Me is a fast-paced story - perhaps too fast - as it goes from the initial setup to the final denouement in what seems like just a few days. This is a story where one of the main characters, Owen Michaels, goes missing in the first paragraph itself and how his wife, Hannah Hall, tries to find him and, in the bargain, forges a friendship and a bond with her 16 year old step-daughter, Bailey. Owen passes a note on to Hannah with just the words ‘Protect her’ before he disappears and the story soon gets going with her husband’s company being investigated for wrongdoing and its CEO in federal law enforcement’s crosshairs. And, the twist is that the husband goes off the grid not primarily because of the company’s troubles but rather because of his own past that is far murkier and would expose him - and most crucially his daughter, Bailey - to great harm. He isn’t who he seems to be.
Even as the story races along between Sausalito, CA and Austin, TX and also back and forth in time, the author, Laura Dave, does a good job of gradually building the relationship between the two female characters. Bailey starts with the typical teenager’s disdain for her new mother but as the story moves along and she sees the lengths to which Hannah goes to do what Owen asks - protect her - their relationship deepens and solidifies.
There is an interesting ensemble of characters in the book - there are the primary three: Owen, Hannah and Bailey of course - but there is also the US Marshal who comes looking for Owen, Hannah’s friends and acquaintances in Sausalito, her lawyer who is also the ex-fiancé, the people she meets in Austin from the old woman in the church to the fateful encounter with a bar owner, and Laura Dave gets us all a good sense for them.
The story moves quickly and so, this isn’t a hard book to get through and is definitely worth a read. It also made me want to go visit Austin if only to see the Owl Building! This story is being made into a TV show with Julia Roberts playing Hannah Hall.
(Book cover courtesy of goodreads.com)