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The Only One Left
Cover of The Only One Left
The Only One Left
A Novel
Borrow Borrow
THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Named a summer book to watch by The Washington Post, Boston Globe, USA Today, Oprah, Paste, Country Living, Good Housekeeping, and Nerd Daily

"Propulsive ... a dizzying Gothic whodunit."
New York Times Book Review
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.
THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Named a summer book to watch by The Washington Post, Boston Globe, USA Today, Oprah, Paste, Country Living, Good Housekeeping, and Nerd Daily

"Propulsive ... a dizzying Gothic whodunit."
New York Times Book Review
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.
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Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    January 1, 2023

    Only young Leonora survived her family's vicious slaughter in 1929, and town gossip blames her for the deaths despite an absence of proof. Since then, she's refused to leave her family's crumbling mansion high on Maine's coastline, and by 1983 she's in need of a caregiver. Home-health aide Kit McDeere takes the job, and one night, Leonora, rendered mute by a series of strokes, taps out a single sentence on the typewriter: "I want to tell you everything." From the New York Times best-selling Sager, a LibraryReads Hall of Famer.

    Copyright 2023 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 17, 2023
    Sager (The House Across the Lake) again creatively toys with thriller mainstays in this gothic riff on the sinister caretaker trope. It’s 1983, and home health aide Kit McDeere is desperate for work after her previous client overdosed on fentanyl from a bottle Kit left within reach. While McDeere avoided prosecution, she’s still suspected by many—including the police—of having deliberately killed the woman. Broke, Kit has no choice but to accept a new assignment that her boss warns is especially difficult: serving as the caregiver for the paralyzed 71-year-old Lenora Hope. Like Kit, Lenora is considered a murderer by many in their small Maine community: when she was 17, Lenora’s parents and sister were killed in the family’s mansion, leaving her as the sole survivor. As Kit bonds with Lenora, she becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth about her family’s deaths, and increasingly unsure of her client’s innocence. Sager offers his usual array of jaw-dropping twists, which startle despite being fairly clued. Fans of Daphne du Maurier will enjoy this superior nail-biter. Agent: Michelle Brower, Trellis Literary.

  • Booklist

    May 1, 2023
    The author of Home before Dark (2020) and Survive the Night (2021) goes full-on Gothic in this tale of an in-home nurse who's hired to take care of a wheelchair-bound woman. But this is no typical patient: the woman is Lenora Hope, who, according to public opinion, slaughtered her family six decades ago. Her new caregiver, Kit McDeere, also believes her client is guilty until Lenora begins to reveal secrets she's kept nearly all her life. After a slight misstep with last year's The House across the Lake, in which the supernatural elements didn't quite work, Sager is back on form here. The writing is compelling, the story captivating, and the characters nicely rendered. The novel is set in the early 1980s, but it has a timeless feel: it could have taken place a century ago, or it could be happening today. Claustrophobic and haunting, this is Sager at the top of his game.

    COPYRIGHT(2023) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Kirkus

    May 15, 2023
    Sager returns with his take on a gothic whodunit set on the coast of Maine. The year is 1983. Kit McDeere is a disgraced home caregiver who has one chance to redeem herself: She's assigned to look after the ailing, elderly Lenora Hope, a local Lizzie Borden figure. Back in 1929, Lenora allegedly murdered her parents and sister, and now, along with her remaining staff, she resides at Hope's End, the Gothic mansion on Maine's crumbling cliffs where the murders took place. Lenora can't speak following a series of strokes, but with Kit's help, she can type, and she wants to tell her story once and for all, confiding in Kit what happened on the night of the infamous murders. The novel moves between Kit's narration in the present and Lenora's typewritten account of her life leading up to the incident. Early on, the novel evokes such genre classics as "The Fall of the House of Usher" and Rebecca, establishing a moody atmosphere and intriguingly suspicious characters. However, this novel lacks the psychological realism of its influences. Sager doesn't play with gothic tropes so much as he simply traffics in them. The first half of the book is tense and propulsive, but in later chapters the narrative takes so many outlandish turns so quickly that it borders on camp. Characters act in ways that are clich�d and implausible, and they are given cartoonish dialogue to match their behavior. Villains confess easily, in long speeches that strain credulity, and a subplot around paternity takes on the flavor of a telenovela. Multiple scenes involve characters emerging from doorways to reveal they were there all along. (Gasp!) That said, the novel reads quickly and provides a thrilling, if goofy, ride for those with a high tolerance for plot hijinks and a fondness for Guillermo del Toro's Crimson Peak. An entertaining thriller if you can give yourself over to its sillier plot devices.

    COPYRIGHT(2023) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    June 9, 2023

    It's been 54 years since Lenora, bloody and screaming, was found at Hope's End mansion. Her parents slaughtered, her sister hanging. No one knows what happened, and Lenora isn't talking. Flash forward to the '80s: Kit is fresh off a scandal of her own, in desperate need of a job. When her employer comes back with a last-chance offer as a caretaker, there are strings attached. The client is Lenora, now elderly, paralyzed, and unable to speak. And Lenora's previous caretaker? Disappeared. Can Kit work for a woman who may or may not be a murderer? Or will she give up everything, resigned to living with her father? Almost immediately, the tense atmosphere steadily, if slowly, builds, soon bringing a palpable sense of unease. The crumbling, gothic setting heightens Kit's urgency to find the truth about Lenora, even as her own scandal slowly comes to light. Interspersed within the story is Lenora's painstakingly typed account of her family's murders, teasing information to come. While readers may find the final reveal too coincidental for belief, even avid Sager (The House Across the Lake) fans are unlikely to see it coming. VERDICT A solid addition to Sager's oeuvre.--Elisha Sheffer

    Copyright 2023 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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The Only One Left
A Novel
Riley Sager
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