Genre: Mystery & Thriller
Length: 368 pages
First Published: 2023
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Berkley Dutton through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
In 1929, a teenage Lenora Hope was accused, but never convicted, of killing her parents and her sister. For decades, ever since polio left her unable to speak or move anything but her left hand, Lenora has remained in her family’s Maine estate. In 1983, after a six-month suspension after a patient’s death, Kit McDeere has no choice but to accept an assignment as Lenora’s home health aide. When Lenora begins to type out her story to Kit, Kit suspects that the old lady might not be as harmless as she appears.
Riley Sager’s thrillers are usually a summer staple for me, but The Only One Left was a struggle to read. The plot is mind-numbingly slow. Admittedly, it’s hard to introduce drama when your prime suspect is a paralyzed old lady who can’t talk. The first half of the book spends most of the time in Kit’s head, looping on the same anxious thoughts. The book finally picks up near the end, adding in some unexpected twists, but it took way too much forced reading to get to that point.
At seventeen, Lenora Hope
Hung her sister with a rope
Now reduced to a schoolyard chant, the Hope family murders shocked the Maine coast one bloody night in 1929. While most people assume seventeen-year-old Lenora was responsible, the police were never able to prove it. Other than her denial after the killings, she has never spoken publicly about that night, nor has she set foot outside Hope’s End, the cliffside mansion where the massacre occurred.
Stabbed her father with a knife
Took her mother’s happy life
It’s now 1983, and home-health aide Kit McDeere arrives at a decaying Hope’s End to care for Lenora after her previous nurse fled in the middle of the night. In her seventies and confined to a wheelchair, Lenora was rendered mute by a series of strokes and can only communicate with Kit by tapping out sentences on an old typewriter. One night, Lenora uses it to make a tantalizing offer—I want to tell you everything.
“It wasn’t me,” Lenora said
But she’s the only one not dead
As Kit helps Lenora write about the events leading to the Hope family massacre, it becomes clear there’s more to the tale than people know. But when new details about her predecessor’s departure come to light, Kit starts to suspect Lenora might not be telling the complete truth—and that the seemingly harmless woman in her care could be far more dangerous than she first thought.
About Riley Sager
Riley Sager is the pseudonym of Todd Ritter, a former journalist. Under the name Riley Sager, he is the author of six novels: Final Girls, The Last Time I Lied, Lock Every Door, Home Before Dark, The House Across the Lake, The Only One Left, and Survive the Night. He currently lives in Princeton, New Jersey Visit the author’s website →