Hattie Hoffman is the brightest of the bunch. A small town girl with big dreams, Hattie is counting the days until her high school graduation is all over and done with so she can proceed with the life that she really wants to lead; that of an aspiring actress in New York. Hattie loves her parents and enjoys hanging out with her friends but the Hattie they all see is an act. The real Hattie dwells within and is nothing like the girl everybody thinks they know.
Moving from the city to his wife’s home town is definitely a step back for Peter Lund. Taking a teaching job is all he can get and it is not exactly an exciting and challenging job for an educated man who is used to the ebb and flow of an urban life. Peter despairs that his Mary is withdrawing from their marriage emotionally as she cares for her ailing mother. There is no space for Peter in this new household and his mother-in-law is never going to let him forget that. The time spent in online chat rooms quickly becomes the only place in Peter’s world where he can stop being the dutiful husband, son-in-law and teacher and just be himself.
The murder of Hattie Hoffman challenges everyone in her Midwestern town to rethink what they thought they recognized in each town and in themselves.
THE LAST ACT OF HATTIE HOFFMAN has a lot of balls in the air at once and does an admirable job with the interplay. As with any small town crime, the suspects are taken out of a smaller pool and you are able to examine each viewpoint for clues. Flipping between past and present it features the viewpoint of Hattie, the Sherriff tasked with investigating her murder and that of the new person in town, Peter Lund. There are only a few small irks with this read. Perhaps it’s too much of a sensitive insight but it does veer close to victim blaming. The strength of this read is in the cast of characters, all unique and drawn with economic strokes but with warmth and purpose.
Ignore all the book comparisons as it doesn’t do this clever little mystery justice; it is all about the journey here and the big reveal is not the tantalizing part of the read. THE LAST ACT OF HATTIE HOFFMAN is a very satisfying read and deservedly one of the buzz books of the summer.