20) The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia
There are few things that I hate more than the descriptions on Amazon that say ‘the most psychologically twisty and suspenseful thriller you’ll read this year’ as part of the book title. Though they clearly work, as they are becoming more and more commonplace. So you’ll have to ignore the ‘Twisty, psychological thriller with the best heroine you’ll meet this year’ tagline in the description of The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman as it is better than that might suggest. Not a lot better, but a fair bit.
It is a fairly well-trodden path: young, ambitious girl in rural town wants to leave; (various) older men are drawn to her, either as father figures or potential saviours; she is murdered (don’t worry, it happens early); and there are quieter a few candidates. Mix in a bit of amateur dramatics and a grizzled local town sheriff and we are all ready to roll.
And roll it does – it’s a real page-turner, written in episodes from different perspectives, and I raced through it at quite a pace. And, while the ‘best heroine you’ll meet this year’ is a bit strong, Hattie Hoffman is undoubtedly more interesting than the by-the-numbers plot elements might lead you to think: a sophisticate in a humdrum town; calculating but impulsive; contradictory in the way that teenagers are. All of which means she overcomes the Lolita-type stereotypes that occasionally raise their head here.
Undemanding, pacy thriller with decent twisty denouement? Yep. Above average depiction of main character? Yep. Good way to spend a few escapist hours? Yep. Only 99p on Kindle right now? Bargain.