Title: The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman
Author: Mindy Mejia
Seventeen-year-old Hattie Hoffman is a talented actress, loved by everyone in her Minnesotan hometown. So when she’s found stabbed to death on the opening night of her school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of the community.
Local sheriff Del Goodman, a good friend of Hattie’s dad, vows to find her killer, but the investigation yields more secrets than answers; it turns out Hattie played as many parts offstage as on. Told from three perspectives: Del’s, Hattie’s high school English teacher and Hattie herself, The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman tells the story of the real Hattie, and what happened that final year of school when she dreamed of leaving her small town behind . . .
Wonderfully evocative of its Midwestern setting and with a cast of unforgettable characters, this is a book about manipulation of relationships and identity, about the line between innocence and culpability, about the hope love offers and the tragedies that occur when it spins out of control
I found this novel intriguing and a good read, with some interesting characters and a satisfying ending.
I really enjoy novels that are told from multiple perspectives, and The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman is told from three – Hattie herself, local English teacher Peter, and police officer Del. Each have a different part to play in this story, which combines suspense, mystery, relationships and murder. It’s an interesting story, and one that I can’t really say much about without giving too much away.
Hattie herself isn’t always the most likeable character; she has her faults, as do all the characters really, but you’re nevertheless rooting for Del to uncover what’s happened to her. The story hops back and forward in time – obviously Hattie’s narrative is before she’s killed (no surprise there!) whilst Peter and Del’s move between the past and present, revealing more about the situation surrounding Hattie’s disappearance.
Around the middle of the book I found the story slowed down a little and I wasn’t sure what to think, but it soon picked up and by the end (ah that ending!) I was hooked once again. Perhaps some of the middle could be cut down a little?
This feels like a slightly different style to many other psychological thrillers – you get a more rounded impression of the events surrounding the murder and an insight into what life, and growing up, must be like in that small American town. You learn more about Hattie’s relationships and friendships, and her state of mind. Everyone seems to have a different impression of Hattie, but is that because she changed with different people without realising, or is it all intentional? Is she as innocent as many thought?
The characters are interesting and well-crafted, and some are more likable than others, which gives it a more convincing feeling. The story is easy to read and I enjoyed finding out more. I would recommend this novel; it had the right levels of suspense, description and mystery to keep me intrigued.
Many thanks to Quercus Books for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.