The Last Thing He Told Me-Laura Dave
–by Gail Bishop
In this novel, the main character, Hannah, is a wood turner. This seems like a strange occupation for the author to give her in this day and age but the connection to the story becomes clearer as the novel unfolds. Cared for by her beloved grandfather after her mother takes off, Hannah begins to learn this singular craft as a child. “The first lesson he taught me from a young age was that it wasn’t just about shaping a block of wood into what you wanted it to be. That it was peeling back, to seeing what was inside the wood, what the wood had been before. It was the first step in making something beautiful. The first step in making something out of nothing.” It is this unusual vocation that leads Hannah to Owen.
Owen accompanies his boss to Hannah’s workshop where the boss has commissioned several pieces for his home. Owen is mesmerized by her work and then becomes equally enamored with Hannah. After a brief courtship, the two marry and settle into life in Sausalito where Owen lives with his sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Most of their issues are expected. After losing her mother in an accident when she was four, Bailey is not thrilled about sharing her dad with his new wife. However, one morning the issues loom much larger. Owen disappears. He leaves behind a cryptic note saying, “Protect her” and a bag of cash in Bailey’s locker at school. A US Marshall shows up at the house, sure Hannah and Bailey know more about Owen’s disappearance than they are letting on. Hannah and Bailey are now on the run in search of clues. Each new piece of information about her husband peels back another layer to reveal the real Owen-not the one Hannah married. Luckily, Hannah’s occupation as a wood turner has equipped her with the necessary skills needed to find out what Owen had been before. One thing Hannah is sure about is, “Owen was running from something he is terrified of. He has spent his life running from it. And, more important, he has spent his entire life trying to keep Bailey from it.” This novel is a mystery that gives you just enough information to keep you reading the next chapter. It is a perfect vacation read. For some reason I always associate the beach with gin and tonics so the cocktail this time is pretty simple: Two ounces gin (we like Tanqueray) and six ounces tonic water (we like Seagrams) over ice and garnished with fresh lime juice to taste. (Now I really want to go to the Outer Banks)