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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Only One Left

Narrators: Dawn Harvey, Christine Lakin Penguin Audio

ISBN: 978-0593183229

Publisher: Dutton

Publication Date: 06/20/2023

Format: Other

My Rating: 4 Stars

Bestselling author Riley Sager returns with a Gothic chiller about a young caregiver assigned to work for a woman accused of a Lizzie Borden-like massacre decades earlier.

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.

My Review

Riley Sager returns following The House Across the Lake with his latest twisty spine-chilling whodunit Gothic thriller, THE ONLY ONE LEFT. A home health aide is assigned to care for an elderly woman accused of murdering her wealthy family decades earlier.

Set in 1983, we start with a vintage typewriter. Lenora Hope is bound to a wheelchair as the home health aide places her left hand on the keys.

LENORA HOPE: (age 71)

I want to tell you everything.

Things I've never told anyone else.

Yes, about that night

Because I trust you.


She does not trust Lenora. She is capable of so little yet accused of so much, and she remains torn between wanting to protect her and the urge to suspect her. But if she wants to tell her, she will listen. But she suspects most will be lies, or worse, the utterly terrifying truth.

1929: Lenora was accused of stabbing her father and killing her mother before hanging her sister, Virginia. She swore she did not do it, even though one else was there. They are dead.

Now she is paralyzed, having suffered multiple strokes, and mute in a wheelchair in this eerie family mansion (crumbling) cliffside Maine coastal setting, Hope's End. It is ready to topple over into the crashing waves.

Kit, the caregiver, is not wild about taking this assignment, but no other prospects. She gets warnings from the staff (housekeeper) Mrs. Baker, that something is not right and there may be more to the story.

Mr. Gurlain, her boss, chose Kit for the assignment because Lenora Hope is the one patient nobody, not even the police, will mind if she kills. Kit was forced to take six months of unpaid leave after her previous client overdosed on fentanyl from a bottle Kit left within reach. While she avoided prosecution, she’s still suspected by many—including the police—of having deliberately killed the woman. Now she is broke and desperate.

Are the childhood stories and creepy rhymes true? Did Lenora murder her family? What happened to the previous caregiver?

Hence, the typewriter is Lenora's only method of communication. Lenora and Kit have more in common than they know. Sick mothers and distant fathers are neither worldly and they are accused of horrific crimes. Both say they are innocent.

Someone else may want family secrets to remain in the past and not be told. Fifty-four years later will all the secrets come out? Kit bonds with Lenora and becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth and solving the mystery behind her family’s deaths while unsure of Lenora's innocence.

Atmospheric, creepy, scary, and spine-chilling!

I loved Kit! Between all that is happening at night in the haunted house of horrors and the clever typewritten messages, the author keeps you on the edge of your seat. Haunting, twisty, and so many secrets! The staff are all there to play a part. THE ONLY ONE LEFT will keep you guessing to the very end—One of his best!

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 4 Stars

Pub Date: June 20, 2023


Named a summer book to watch by The Washington Post, Boston Globe, USA Today, Oprah, Paste, Country Living, and Nerd Daily

"Propulsive ... a dizzying Gothic whodunit." New York Times Book Review

“Sager offers his usual array of jaw-dropping twists…. Fans of Daphne du Maurier will enjoy this superior nail-biter.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Claustrophobic and haunting, this is Sager at the top of his game.”


“Riley Sager’s spellbinding The Only One Left captures you in its snares from its first tantalizing pages. A Gothic house of horrors, it carries you along effortlessly before delivering a symphony of twists so shocking it took my breath away.”

—Megan Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of Beware the Woman and The Turnout

"Riley Sager is one of my favorite authors, and The Only One Left might be his best yet. Not only is it a deliciously Gothic thrill ride featuring two of my favorite things (Creepy Houses and Murderous Ladies), but it also asks big questions about grief, loss, and the secrets we keep even from those closest to us. Fun, scary, and so absorbing I almost missed a flight because I was trying to read just one more chapter, The Only One Left is one hell of a read!"

—Rachel Hawkins, New York Times bestselling author of The Wife Upstairs

“The Only One Left is Gothic horror at its very best—a crumbling mansion by the sea, dripping with blood, secrets, and forbidden romance—and it’s a thriller that will keep you guessing to the end. Riley Sager, king of twists, has done it again. I couldn’t put this book down.”

—Ana Reyes, New York Times bestselling author of The House in the Pines

“Haunting and incredibly nuanced with enough twists to make your head spin, this is Sager at his best. The Only One Left is a chilling, one-sitting read!”

—Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of Just the Nicest Couple

"Page after page, Sager feeds our voyeuristic hunger to know every deep, dark, bloody detail in those rare cases that capture our attention and our imagination. I'll say it: Kit is, hands down, my favorite heroine in the Sager-verse and The Only One Left is a terrifying treat for all of his fans (like me!)."

—Chandler Baker, New York Times bestselling author of The Whisper Network and Cutting Teeth

“Riley Sager fans can count on the author to deliver page-turning thrillers like The House Across the Lake and Lock Every Door, and The Only One Left is no exception.”

—Country Living, "23 Best Spring Books for Adults to Add to Your 2023 Reading List"

“Another vivid female narrator from bestseller Riley Sager . . . whose signature corkscrew plots keep twisting until the last cutting sentence.”

—Oprah Daily

“Always master of suspense, Sager had me gasping out loud and listening for sounds in my house. I loved this book and it may even be my new favorite of Sager’s.”

—Mystery and Suspense Magazine

"Suspense master."

—USA Today

“Perennial thriller favorite Riley Sager is back with another page-turner this summer, this one riffing on one of America’s most famous and most notorious true crime cases. . . . The kind of book you’ll stay up late into the night trying to finish.”

—Paste Magazine

About the Author

Photo: Michael Livio

Riley Sager is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels, most recently Home Before Dark and Survive the Night. His first novel, Final Girls, has been published in 30 countries and won the ITW Thriller Award for Best Hardcover Novel. His latest book, The House Across the Lake, will be published in 2022 by Dutton Books.

A native of Pennsylvania, he now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.







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