In her first novel in twelve years, the legendary author of Play It As It Lays and Slouching Towards Bethlehem trains her eye on the far frontiers of the Monroe Doctrine, where history dissolves into conspiracy (Dallas in 1963, Iran Contra in 1984), and fashions a moral thriller as hypnotic and provocative as any by Joseph Conrad or Graham Greene.
In that latter year Elena McMahon walks off the presidential campaign she has been covering for a major newspaper to do a favor for her father. Elena's father does deals. And it is while acting as his agent in one such deal—a deal that shortly goes spectacularly wrong—that she finds herself on an island where tourism has been superseded by arms dealing, covert action, and assassination. The Last Thing He Wanted is a tour de force—persuasive in its detail, dazzling in its ambiguities, enchanting in its style.
Her sentences have the wicked precision of a Wodehouse or a Waugh though she uses them for a different purpose: a cold keening for the times we live in.
Brilliantly written and flawlessly structured, Didion's first work of fiction since 1984's Democracy employs her trademark barbed-wire prose to tell a highly elliptical tale of political intrigue.