Novel Approach: One man's secrets shatter a family in Lauren Dave's propulsive thriller

“Secrets have a way of making themselves felt, even before you know there's a secret.” —Jean Ferris

Everyone has their secrets, but at the end of the day we generally believe that we have a good understanding of who our significant others are...unless a secret blows our worlds apart. Our latest read takes us to California where one woman discovers that her husband isn’t exactly who she thought he was.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Lauren Dave

Readers will find themselves gasping for breath as they devour Lauren Dave’s latest novel “The Last Thing He Told Me.”

Hannah thinks she leads a pretty normal life with her husband and stepdaughter...that is until her husband sends her a cryptic message and she’s unable to reach him over the phone. When she goes to pick up her stepdaughter from school her world erupts into chaos when Bailey shows up baffled with a duffle bag of cash her father left for her and the news that the SEC is investigating the company where he works.

With Owen missing, Hannah is left to fend off the inquiries by U.S. Marshals and FBI agents on her own as she and her husband’s stubborn teenager try to figure out why he would have fled.

As the novel progresses Dave layers in delicate scenes from when Hannah and Owen first began dating and the earlier parts of their marriage between the explosive discoveries Hannah and Bailey make about their lives.

Dave serves up breakneck plot twists as Hannah and Bailey quickly discover that Owen has been keeping secrets about not only his past, but Bailey’s that will leave readers reeling.

In addition to wrapping her novel with delicious tension, Dave’s characters quickly endear themselves to readers as they struggle to discover Owen’s secrets.

With only Owen’s note asking Hannah to protect Bailey to guide her, Hannah dives into a tumultuous and dangerous world to protect her prickly stepdaughter.

From the book jacket…

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles 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 federal 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. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they’re also building a new future—one neither of them could have anticipated.

If you enjoy…

Readers looking for more twisty thrillers might also enjoy reading “The Night Swim” by Megan Goldin. When a podcaster and investigative reporter travels to a small town to cover an explosive rape case, the reporter quickly finds herself sucked into a sticky case from the past as a stalker begs her to look into a suspicious drowning.

tinamarie.craven@hearstmediact.com