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The Last Word by Taylor Adams: FAQs + Books Like It

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

If I were to choose one word to describe The Last Word by Taylor Adams, it would have to be relentless because that's exactly what this book is from the get-go. As a reader, you don't get a moment of peace. It's just bombshell, after bombshell. Regardless of how far-fetched and unrealistic some of it is, I can't say I minded all that much because it was just that thrilling to me. (Kindle | Kobo | Paperback)

Now that I've finished it though, I'm here to answer some of the questions I anticipate other readers will have about the book, as well as provide you with a list of five books like The Last Word for you to check out next. (Warning: This article contains spoilers)

The Last Word by Taylor Adams

What is the Book The Last Word About?

The book The Last Word by Taylor Adams is about a woman who writes a 1-star review about a book, only to have the author of said book hunt her down and violently attack her. Here's the official book description: "Emma Carpenter is house-sitting an old beachfront home when she reads a poorly written—but gruesome—horror novel by the author H. G. Kane, and posts a one-star review that drags her into an online argument with none other than the author himself. Soon after, disturbing incidents start to occur at night. To Emma, this can’t just be a coincidence. It was strange enough for this author to bicker with her online about a lousy review; could he be stalking her, too?"

Is The Last Word Scary?

Most of the thrillers I read aren't scary. Sure, they're suspenseful and creepy at times, but not scary. The Last Word is different though. I was genuinely a bit scared and freaked out by it. So, if that's not your thing, either steer clear of this book or at least read it in the bright daylight as I did.

How Long Does It Take to Read The Last Word?

According to How Long to Read, it will take the average reader approximately 6 hours and 8 minutes to read The Last Word.

Who Are the Main Characters in The Last Word?

There are three main characters in The Last Word: Emma Carpenter, H.G. Kane (Howard Grosvenor Kline), and Deacon (Deek) Cowl.

Who Dies in The Last Word? Who Is the Killer?

There are four murders and one accidental death(*) in The Last Word. Here is the list of who dies and who their killers are:

  • Laura Birch - H.G. Kane's classmate who rejected his advances so he kidnapped her. She tied her up but when he left her to go to school, attempted to escape but failed and died from positional asphyxiation.

  • Jake Stanford - FedEx driver who H.G. Kane's brutally attacked and killed with the katana sword for interrupting his plan.

  • Jules Phelps - H.G. Kane's mother was distraught and so he restrained her. However, she ended up dying the same way Laura Birch did - positional asphyxiation.

  • H.G. Kane - After Emma hits him with the FedEx truck, electrocutes him with the stun gun, and impales him, she finally shoots and kills him

  • *Shelby Carpenter - Emma and Shawn's infant daughter who was killed in the car accident that happened as a result of Emma looking at her phone

How Does the Book The Last Word End?

After Emma is released from the hospital for her injuries, she returns to the house on Strand Beach to have tea with Deek as promised. However, Deek reveals he was behind everything and had manipulated H.G. Kane to kill Emma. Since his plan didn't work, he then uses their meeting to poison Emma. He doesn't give her enough to kill her though, just enough that she won't fight back as he stages her suicide as she had previously planned it. She escapes the backpack filled with rocks meant to drown her and makes it to the police station. It is mentioned that Deek is writing his novel from prison, so it's safe to assume he was caught and arrested. Meanwhile, Emma finally returns home to her husband.

5 Books Like The Last Word by Taylor Adams

The Last Word is one scary-ass game of cat and mouse, and while I'd never want to live out the events of this book in real life, I have to say I found reading about it thrilling. If you did too and are looking for another book like it to read next, then here are my top five recommendations for you.

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

1. Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

There's a lot about The Last Word and Rock Paper Scissors that is similar, from the isolated location to the extent of the murderer's premeditation and planning. To give you an idea of what the book is about here's a short synopsis: "Things have been wrong with Mr and Mrs Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after."

The Family Game by Catherine Steadman

2. The Family Game by Catherine Steadman

If there's one book on this list that lives up to the twists and turns and creepiness of The Last Word, then it's this one. The Family Game by Catherine Steadman is about "Harriet Reed, a novelist who is newly engaged to Edward Holbeck, the heir of a powerful family. And even though Edward has long tried to sever ties with them, the news has the Holbecks inviting them back into their lavish world. But when Edward’s father, Robert, hands Harriet a tape, she is desperate to listen. But as she presses play, she finds a confession to a grisly crime. A murder. And, suddenly, the game is in motion."

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

3. The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Like The Last Word, Lucy Foley's bestseller, The Guest List, takes place in an isolated, coastal location that is cut off from the outside world. You also know the whole time that someone is going to die, you just don't know who, when, or how. Unlike The Last Word though, the pool of potential suspects is much bigger and each chapter switches between them, so you realize just how easy it is for anyone of them to be the killer.

You by Caroline Kepnes

4. You by Caroline Kepnes

Do you know I personally found the most creepy about The Last Word? It's the first half before H.G. Kane invades Emma's house - the part where he stalks her. If you want to dive deeper into that theme, then you might want to check out You by Caroline Kepnes (Yes, this is the book series on which the hit Netflix series are based on). If you haven't watched the show or heard of the books, here's a brief description: "Guinevere Beck has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, which tells Joe everything he needs to know to invisibly and obsessively take control of her life. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder."

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

5. A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

There were many times as I was reading The Last Word that I found myself questioning Emma's reliability as a narrator. Was she imagining things? Was the book within the book the real version of events? If this crossed your mind or if you think that angle would have been an interesting plot twist, then I recommend checking out A Flicker in the Dark. Also, like in The Last Word, there are people in this book who the narrator seems to trust but who you as the reader will question and doubt in the back of your mind up until the very end.


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