This book was previously published as ‘Everything You Want Me To Be’, I overlooked it as I didn’t like the cover and never even read the blurb. When it was re-titled with a new cover, it grabbed my attention and immediately became a book I wanted to read.
Everyone thought they knew Hattie Hoffman. When she was murdered, they found out just how wrong they were.
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.
The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman carries that small-town vibe that creates an intimate read, with not many characters, this novel allows you to get up close and personal with the characters. As for the narrators, I really liked Del, the typical, small town sheriff who knows the victim and her family, and feels an added pressure to solve the case because of this fact.
I enjoyed the majority of this novel and throughout I couldn’t be sure who murdered Hattie, which is always what you want in a mystery novel. I had hoped the investigation itself would have a bigger role in the novel but that’s a personal preference – The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman is a character-driven novel, each narrator builds up a picture of the real Hattie and explains the events that led to her death.
Towards the end of the novel, I began to lose interest and when the reveal came as to who killed Hattie, I wasn’t invested in who the guilty party was. Mainly because over the course of the story, I didn’t like the way Hattie was portrayed. Yes, she may have done wrong but at the end of the day she was still a young girl, and for the type of story this was I grew to dislike the manipulative picture that was portrayed of Hattie. The more this portrayal continued, the more I saw a girl who was maybe in need support and a closer look at why she did certain things.
At the beginning of this novel, I didn’t care much for Hattie but as the novel progressed, I ended up liking her, which is likely why I struggled with the portrayal of her character, especially towards the end of the novel. The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman does what it says, it explores themes of “manipulation of relationships and identity,” so I can’t be mad at that, it’s just the way things work out sometimes, that as twists are revealed and the plots progress, they don’t go the way you imagined. Many reviewers delight in the manipulative picture of Hattie but what can I say, I had a soft spot for her, to act wholly the way she did, I believe she has some inner issues going on rather than she’s just self-obsessed.
If you enjoy character-driven, small town mysteries, this may be the book for you.