Today, I have a review Daniel Lowe’s debut novel, All That’s Left to Tell. It is a contemporary mystery that explores father-daughter relationships. I haven’t read many books centered around fathers and daughters, so I was definitely intrigued by this book. And while it ended up being completely different than I was expecting, I still think it’s a very worthwhile read.
(From Goodreads) All That’s Left to Tell is a debut novel about Marc Laurent, a mid-level executive taken hostage in Karachi. Aside from his guards, his only interaction is with a mysterious woman he knows as Josephine. In their first meetings, Josephine tells Marc that they’ve called his company, they’ve called his ex-wife, whom else can they call for ransom money? Marc says there is no one else. And then Josephine asks Marc a question that is even more frightening than his captivity—why didn’t he go home last month for his daughter’s funeral, after she was murdered?
So begins a bizarre yet somewhat comforting ritual, in which every night Josephine visits Marc in his cell. She tells him stories, including stories about what would have happened had his daughter not been murdered. Marc, in turn, begins to tell his own stories, in which his daughter is alive. And soon it’s not clear which storyline is real, and which is imagined, and if it even matters. Throughout the course of these stories (and stories within stories), father and daughter start to find their way toward understanding one another once again.
Atmospheric and exquisitely structured, Daniel Lowe’s searing debut is a tribute to the redemptive power of storytelling.
All That’s Left to Tell is definitely a unique story. I liked that it played with reality a little bit, and threw in a few twists. I thought the writing was really great, which isn’t surprising given that Daniel Lowe teaches writing.
Usually, I enjoy slightly ambiguous storylines, but this book just didn’t quite pull it off in my opinion. While I do like the different possible endings that the reader can imagine, and I think that part of the book was brilliant, the process of getting there was very confusing. Being thrown off by it initially was a good twist, but I never really caught my bearings, and that made it hard to stay interested.
There were a few things I struggled to wrap my head around. Like the fact that Marc is taken hostage, but isn’t really anyone important. He’s a mid-level executive at Pepsi. So it’s not quite apparent why he’s taken hostage, and it was pretty distracting in the first part of the book. I found myself wondering if certain things were going to be explained, rather than being able to immerse myself fully in the story.
Something I also wanted to mention in my review are the mentions of Islam and potentially Muslim characters in this book. Because I am not Muslim, I don’t feel like I can say whether or not this was a good portrayal of that. I’m actually curious to see what others think of that aspect of the book. But I did like that it was set in Pakistan. That’s actually one of the reasons I decided to read this book; I don’t see many books, particularly contemporary ones, set in the Middle East.
Overall, I’d give this book a 2.5/3 out of 5 stars. It wasn’t a bad book, and I am not opposed to reading more of Daniel Lowe’s work in the future. But it just wasn’t my cup of tea. To be fair, I knew going into this book that it wasn’t really the type of book I gravitate toward, but I’m all for trying new things, so I decided to read it anyway. I do think this is the kind of book that many people will love, so if it sounds interesting to you, I think it’s worth giving it a shot.
You can order your copy of All That’s Left to Tell here. To get the audiobook for free, use this link to sign up for a free trial of Audible and choose All That’s Left to Tell as one of your two free books (which you get to keep even if you cancel).
Thanks to Flatiron Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.