Title: The Last Thing I Told You by Emily Arsenault
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspeense
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
From the acclaimed author of The Evening Spider and The Broken Teaglass comes this psychological thriller about the murder of a psychologist in a quiet New England town and his former patient whose unreliable thread will keep readers guessing until the shocking end.
I hear myself whispering. Not again. Not again.
Why did I ever come back here? Surely because of you. Because I thought of something I’d always meant to tell you. Because you were the only one I ever really wanted to tell it to…
Therapist Dr. Mark Fabian is dead—bludgeoned in his office.
But that doesn’t stop former patient Nadine Raines from talking to him—in her head. Why did she come back to her hometown after so many years away? Everyone here thinks she’s crazy. And she has to admit—they might have good reason to think so. She committed a shockingly violent act when she was sixteen, and has never really been able to explain that dark impulse—even to Fabian. Now that Fabian’s dead, why is she still trying?
Meanwhile, as Detective Henry Peacher investigates Fabian’s death, he discovers that shortly before he died, Fabian pulled the files of two former patients. One was of Nadine Raines, one of Henry’s former high school classmates. Henry still remembers the disturbing attack on a teacher that marked Nadine as a deeply troubled teen.
More shockingly, the other file was of Johnny Streeter, who is now serving a life sentence for a mass shooting five years ago. The shooting devastated the town and everyone—including Henry, who is uncomfortable with the “hero” status the tragedy afforded him—is ready to move on. But the appearance of his file brings up new questions. Maybe there is a decades-old connection between Nadine and Streeter. And maybe that somehow explains what Nadine is doing in Fabian’s office nearly twenty years after being his patient. Or how Fabian ended up dead two days after her return. Or why Nadine has fled town once again.
But as Nadine and Henry head toward a confrontation, both will discover that the secrets of people’s hearts are rarely simple, and—even in the hidden depths of a psychologist’s files—rarely as they appear.
Written in two distinct points of view and alternating between past and present, The Last Thing I Told You by Emily Arsenault is a riveting murder mystery.
Detective Sergeant Henry Peacher is the lead detective investigating therapist Mark Fabian’s murder. With scant evidence to go on, Henry’s investigation leads him down a tangled path to former classmate Nadine Raines, Brookhaven nursing home, and convicted killer Johnny Streeter. Nadine is a former patient with a troubled past who has not lived in Campion for twenty years. However, Henry discovers Nadine is in town visiting her mother and stepfather, who interestingly enough works at Brookhaven, but tracking her down proves to be quite challenging. The connection to Brookhaven is tenuous at best but since Mark consulted with patients at Brookhaven the nursing home deserves a closer look. In another interesting twist, Henry turned into a local hero after he stopped Johnny Streeter’s murderous rampage at Brookhaven. Johnny is still behind bars but could he have convinced someone on the outside to murder Dr. Fabian?
Henry is a methodical detective who is willing to put in long hours to identify Mark’s killer. He is troubled by the case’s unexpected connections to Johnny and Brookhaven. He is wracked with guilt that he did not save more of Brookhaven’s residents during Johnny’s shooting spree. However, Henry does not let this remorse stop him from following each lead he uncovers. He is quite thorough as he revisits seemingly disparate bits of information and does not hesitate to re-question witnesses when necessary. Once the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place, Henry does not let anything stop him from finding out the truth.
The chapters from Nadine’s perspective are quite intriguing and offer fascinating insights into her life both in the past and present. Her inner thoughts are directed toward Dr. Fabian as she revisits her previous sessions with him from twenty years earlier. There is no doubt Nadine has some psychological issues but it is her actions in the present make her a prime suspect in her former therapist’s murder.
With a clever plot and fascinating narrators, The Last Thing I Told You is an absolutely captivating mystery. The vibrantly and realistically developed characters are so life-like they leap off the pages. The storyline is intricately plotted with plenty of red herrings and plausible misdirects. Emily Arsenault does an outstanding job keeping the perpetrator’s identity tightly under wraps until the novel’s twist-filled conclusion. Fans of the genre will enjoy this fast-paced and compelling mystery.