The Only One Left by Riley Sager
First line: The office is on Main Street, tucked between a beauty parlor and a storefront that, in hindsight, feels prophetic.
Summary: In 1929, Lenora Hope killed her whole family. Or that’s how the rhyme goes but Lenora was never charged and is now living a lonely life in her family’s house on the cliffs. It’s now 1983, Kit McDeere has just ended her suspension after an investigation into her previous patient’s death. Her new assignment is to care for the local murderess, Lenora Hope. Several strokes have left Lenora mute and wheelchair bound. Using a typewriter Lenora is able to communicate with Kit but one sentence changes the course of Kit’s life. Lenora wants to tell Kit everything about that night in 1929. Intrigued, Kit begins helping Lenora type her story. What really happened in 1929? And can Kit trust what Lenora is telling her?
My Thoughts: To date this is probably my favorite Riley Sager book! It was crammed full of twists at the end. It was twist after twist after twist. But I was invested for every bit of it. The beginning is a slow burn as we are introduced to the characters and what has brought Kit to this point in her life. She has struggled through life but finally found something she is good at. Then one mistake takes everything she has done into question, changing her whole life. I ended up liking Kit by the end. She starts out rather timid and unsure but as she learns more she becomes a stronger character who stands behind her decisions.
Hope’s End seemed a living museum. The house was stuck in the past along with the uniforms and amenities. Lenora is kept upstairs in her room. Everything about the house and it occupants was perfectly done. It had that eerie feeling with what appears to be a Mrs. Danvers character running the show. The house is perched on the edge of a cliff face but the ocean is slowly eroding the land away. Adding the imminent threat of destruction to a need to find out the truth added suspense and urgency to the plot. This book could easily be read in one sitting because it is so packed with shocking moments and revelations that makes it hard to put down.
My favorite parts were Lenora’s memories of 1929 and the times leading up to the murder of her family. There were so many clues hiding in plain sight and I did not notice until everything has been revealed. And red herrings were placed throughout as well to throw the reader off and they did just that! It was plotted out perfectly.
I love that Sager sets his books in the 80s. It such a modern era but still in the past before internet and cell phones. I have to keep reminding myself about the time period when I get frustrated and question why the characters did not do or know something. But this is part of the appeal of Sager’s books. They have a nostalgia factor mixed with the wonderful 80s horror movie tropes. As always I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a thrilling read.