A page-turner for those who enjoy whodunits and Gothic settings.
It is 1983. Disgraced caregiver, Kit McDeere, has no choice but to accept a job working with Lenora Hope, a reclusive old woman suspected of murdering her family long ago. Lenora, after suffering a series of strokes that have left her both mute and bedridden, has only partial use of her left arm. Perhaps sensing that Kit has her own secrets and that her time is coming to an end, Lenora begins to use a typewriter to confess what really happened on that horrible night. Kit isn’t sure she wants to know but is positive the other members of the household are intent on keeping her in the dark.
The cast of suspects, each with a secret of their own, includes genre staples like the cook, the housekeeper, the gardener, the maid and Lenora’s previous caregiver, now missing. They reside at the fittingly named Hope’s End, the towering mansion where the murders took place and where they’ve chosen to seclude themselves from the world. Hope’s End is a character itself, a stand in for the fortunes of the Hope family reminiscent of Poe’s House of Usher.
The real strength of the novel is Sager’s plotting. He is adept at revealing pieces of the puzzle at regular intervals in a way that makes you feel you couldn’t possibly put the book down now. The twists and turns are piled on, forcing you to reevaluate each character. It ramps up towards the end and if the book has one flaw it’s that it may have one too many surprises for its own good. You can decide for yourself.
If you’re looking for one last summer read and enjoy Hitchcockian thrillers The Only One Left is an easy recommendation. It’s waiting for you at the library.
–Mike, Outreach Coordinator – Champlain Library