If you have read a number of Joan Didion novels, particularly starting in the 1980s, she turns her attention progressively on our neighbors in to the south, and American meddling in their internal affairs. This is certainly the case in The Last Thing He Wanted, which chronicles the mishaps of a novice on the scene of international arms smuggling on an unnamed Caribbean Island.
As many commentators have said, there are deep shades of Graham Greene in this novel (and most of the other novels she has written in this vein). For someone moving through Didion’s oeuvre, there is not anything new to stimulate. If you are coming to Didion fresh, no doubt you are in for an interesting ride. Didion had a terse way of building narrative tension. She moves back and forth in time effortlessly, allowing the reader to see every nook and cranny of her created world.
However, if you have read her a great deal, this world is a repeat. Her concerns in this period are rather narrow, and it comes across in this novel.