The Last Word
By Taylor Adams
Published by William Morrow,9780063222892. April 2023, 352 pp
The Short of It:
The Rest of It:
Emma escapes to a secluded beach house with a fully loaded ebook reader, her sweet Golden Retriever, and a backpack full of rocks. From the first pages, it’s clear that she’s battling some demons and a boat load of guilt. She’s also mourning an impossible loss. All she wants to do is read trashy crime books, hang out with her dog and then walk into the ocean with her backpack full of rocks. It’s a simple plan but it’s a plan that quickly falls apart.
After finishing a particularly lame .99 cent ebook, she decides to post a one star review on Amazon. What she doesn’t anticipate is that the author immediately takes offense and tells her so. He demands that she delete the review. Emma finds this ridiculously unreasonable. People are allowed to have opinions and so she adamantly refuses to cave to the request. Who does this guy think he is?
From this point on, the story goes absolutely haywire. Emma begins to hear strange noises in the house and she feels watched. Oddly enough a neighbor at the other end of the Strand befriends her by writing notes back and forth on a whiteboard. They are then viewed by each through a telescope. Emma takes comfort in this stranger’s messages and when things take a crazy turn at the house, she relies on this new friend to watch things from afar.
Is there really a threat? Is she overreacting? Can this author really be so bent over a review that he comes after her? The thing is, he’s a horror writer and the numerous deaths in his stories are grisly and graphic. Painstakingly so. He almost seems to relish “the kill”, so is it really all that far-fetched to think that he could carry that hunger into real life?
Taylor Adams must have had fun writing this one. He jerks you one way, then the other, provides the truth, only for the reader to find out that what he’s just set up is quite the opposite of truth. At first, there was a small piece of me that quickly grew bored with the teasing. A few times I literally cried out, “Really? Come on!” But I gotta tell you, I could not put the dang book down and read it in one sitting.
Plus, I don’t know how he kept it all straight. All the minute details that are revisited later in the story. It’s just wild how it all comes together. The intensity of this one is quite good. My advice to you? Read it, enjoy the craziness of it. Don’t spend too much time trying to critique it. I loved No Exit and this one has that same crazy pace.
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.