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The Last Word by Taylor Adams
Thriller

The Last Word

Repeat author

Taylor Adams is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include No Exit.

by Taylor Adams

Excellent choice

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Quick take

While house-sitting, Emma Carpenter starts encountering eerie things after posting a negative review of a horror novel.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FastRead

    Fast read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Creepy

    Creepy

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Rugged

    Rugged

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Writerlife

    Writer's life

Synopsis

After posting a negative book review, a woman living in a remote location begins to wonder if the author is a little touchy—or very, very dangerous—in this pulse-pounding novel of psychological suspense and terror from the critically acclaimed author of, No Exit.

Emma Carpenter lives in isolation with her golden retriever Laika, house-sitting an old beachfront home on the rainy Washington coast. Her only human contact is her enigmatic old neighbor, Deek, and (via text) the house’s owner, Jules.

One day, she reads a poorly written—but gruesome—horror novel by the author H. G. Kane, and posts a one-star review that drags her into an online argument with none other than the author himself. Soon after, disturbing incidents start to occur at night. To Emma, this can’t just be a coincidence. It was strange enough for this author to bicker with her online about a lousy review; could he be stalking her, too?

As Emma digs into Kane’s life and work, she learns he has published sixteen other novels, all similarly sadistic tales of stalking and murder. But who is he? How did he find her? And what else is he capable of?

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Content warning

This book contains mentions of suicidal ideation.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Last Word.
The Last Word

PROLOGUE

THE END.

Emma Carpenter drops her e-reader. Like surfacing from a deep dive with aching lungs, she has never been so grateful to see those two words on her paper-white screen.

“Thank God.” She rubs her eyes.

She downloaded this bizarre e-book for ninety-nine cents on her neighbor’s recommendation. The novel’s cover art was featureless black with a white Comic Sans title: Murder Mountain. Sinister but in a lo-fi way, like a VHS snuff tape. For less than the cost of a candy bar, how can you go wrong?

Post-purchase, she’d noticed the subtitle: The Scariest Book You’ll Ever Read.

Uh-oh.

The raving blurb was in quotation marks, to appear quoted from a review or notable person, but there was no attributed source. It was the author’s personal boast.

Uh-oh.

Emma persevered and read on anyway, as the horror novel followed two college coeds backpacking alone in the Appalachian foothills. One is a psych major and the other is a prelaw student studying for the LSAT. They’re more ornaments than people: vain, shrill, stupid, and perhaps the least-convincing lesbians ever written. It’s telling that the most authentic character in the entire book is the serial killer.

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Why I love it

Every author gets them. The dreaded one-star review, often accompanied by a line or two of snark. (My most memorable: a simple, brutal “LOL no.”) Most of us try to ignore them. Many of us fixate on them anyway. And in the relentlessly paced The Last Word, one scathing review ignites an online feud that spills over into real life. The twist? The critic is the hero—and the author just might be a psychopath.

The amateur reviewer is Emma Carpenter, a woman going through a rough patch who opts out of society by house sitting on the Washington coast. The author is H. G. Kane, whose violent and sadistic fiction hints at a real-life cruel streak. Oh, and he hates getting bad reviews. When Emma gives his latest book one star, it makes him angry enough to track her down in her remote beachfront cottage and force her to change her opinion. (Between this and Megan Miranda’s The Only Survivors, it’s been a banner spring for thrillers set in isolated beach houses.)

What happens next is so diabolically clever that to give away any more plot would risk spoiling the delicious surprises lurking inside The Last Word. Because this is a book by Taylor Adams, whose No Exit sent everyone’s heads spinning, you can expect a doozy. Or two. Or twelve. There’s also dark humor, nail-biting suspense, and a heroine worth rooting for. My review: LOL yes.

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Member ratings (27,062)

  • Angela C.

    Neversink, NY

    This book was excellent just when I thought it was this it flipped and was that(trying not to give away spoilers) it’s an EXCELLENT read finished in 3 days! As a full time mom/employee! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️

  • Lexi J.

    Fairview Park, OH

    OH. MY. GOD. This book made my jaw drop more than once. When I got to the acknowledgments section, I felt my heart sink for Emma.. then I realized it was FAKE and the book wasn’t over yet! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Christi M.

    Gray, GA

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ It’s been a while since I finished a book in a day, but I couldn’t put TLW down! Emma is a badass MC and the twisty plot is absolutely riveting. Some say over the top, I say just enough!

  • Julia M.

    Saint Augustine, FL

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I could not put this book down, I loved how we had the true account of what happened and how deek altered the story side by side while also figuring out what made Emma fall sort months ago

  • Lynne R.

    Bound Brook, NJ

    This is the first book I’ve read by this author and WOW, what a great one to start with! I couldn’t put down, it was such a wild ride and I loved all the twists. An absolute must read! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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