The Last Caretaker



A woman in search of a new beginning is put to the test in ways she never imagined in an empowering and provocative page-turner by the author of Not That I Could Tell.

Katie’s divorce was, in a word, humiliating. So when her friend Bess offers a fresh start—a resident caretaking job at a nature preserve—Katie accepts. No matter that she’s not exactly a “nature person.” How hard can it be?

But from day one, something feels off. Katie’s new farmhouse looks as if the last caretaker barely moved out at all. When a frantic, terrified woman arrives late at night, expecting a safe place to hide, it’s clear caretaking involves way more than Katie bargained for.

Katie finds herself suddenly unsure who she can trust: the brooding groundskeeper, the daily regulars—hikers, dog walkers, bird-watchers, photographers—even Bess. As she pieces together the brave faces and secret steps of the network she’s unwittingly stepped into, her admiration for their mission grows, but so, too, does the danger.

Determined to find out what happened to the last caretaker, Katie must discover courage she never knew she had—and decide how much she’ll risk to do the right thing.

“A relevant, harrowing mystery with page-turning suspense.” —Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of Just the Nicest Couple

The Last Caretaker is as full of life, beauty, and menace as the nature reserve in which it is set. This masterfully constructed novel explores just how much we’re willing to risk to do what’s right. Jessica Strawser’s writing drew me in and refused to let go until the very last page.” —Laura Hankin, bestselling author of The Daydreams

Coming November 7, 2023 (from Lake Union Publishing)

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER in e-book, paperback, and audiobook:

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“A powerful and atmospheric tale that is equal parts emotion and suspense … Strawser perfectly captures the perils of living in an isolated part of the world and the desperate measures some women must take in order to survive. A richly emotional page-turner with an important message.” Kimberly Belle, internationally bestselling author of Dear Wife 

The Last Caretaker is the best kind of book: important, surprising, brave. You’ll want all your friends to read it.” —Ann GarvinUSA Today bestselling author of I Thought You Said This Would Work

Riveting, harrowing, timely, and important. … The Last Caretaker is that rare combination of page-turning thriller and an issue-driven book with deep resonance. I couldn’t put it down, I can’t stop thinking about it, and I know it will stay with me for a very long time.” —Michele Campbell, internationally bestselling author of It’s Always the Husband

“Jessica Strawser’s powerful page-turner The Last Caretaker takes us on a dark, winding journey that forces the protagonist to grapple with how far she would go to do the right thing, and at what price. Katie’s new job as a residential caretaker in a nature reserve is not what it seems…far from it. Strawser expertly tackles the mysteries around caretaking at the Grove Reserve with unputdownable twists and turns, proving that while life can get messy, the trick is being strong enough to handle the knocks at your door. Brava!” —Lisa BarrNew York Times bestselling author of Woman on Fire

The Last Caretaker is a relevant, absorbing exploration into the dark side of relationships. Strawser’s skillful insights capture what it means to be a caretaker—what it’s worth and the impact on ourselves and those around us. A powerful read from start to finish, thought provoking, and unputdownable.” —Rochelle B. WeinsteinUSA Today bestselling author of When We Let Go

“Riveting and evocative, The Last Caretaker takes its cast—and readers—down a path of discovery and strength, all while telling a story rich with grace and determination and yes—soul-deep hope. Turn off your phones; you will be reading this one in a single sitting.” —Kelly Harms, bestselling author of Wherever the Wind Takes Us

An important book about courage and community and the lengths we’ll go to protect our most vulnerable. Strawser takes on the trauma of domestic abuse and its powerful vise of shame and fear that keeps victims stuck in a destructive cycle. The Last Caretaker will have you rooting for this colorful cast of imperfect people who create safe places for those in need no matter the consequences.” —Melissa Payne, bestselling author of A Light in the Forest

All women can relate to navigating the dangers in this novel: when to offer help, when to accept it, who to trust—and even how to trust our own instincts. Richly atmospheric, with a setting that both adds to and personifies the novel’s razor-sharp suspense, The Last Caretaker offers an unforgettable tale, believable characters you’ll root for, and insights that will keep you thinking about the novel long after you’ve finished the final compelling page.” —Jess Montgomery, author of The Widows