top of page

If It's the Last Thing I Do

Can a novice CEO and her dedicated employee owners save an heirloom company from ruin?

5 Star Best Book Chanticleer Book Reviews for If It's the Last Thing I Do by David Fitz-Gerald
Book Cover for If It's the Last Thing I Do

Picture it!

Can you imagine inheriting a company and suddenly becoming a CEO... overnight?

Are you in the mood for a story about employees becoming owners?

Isn't it about time ESOPs were featured in books and movies? If It's the Last Thing I Do is the first novel to feature a company transitioning from a traditional, family-owned company to a company that is 100% owned by its employees, through and Employee Stock Ownership Plan.

Are you ready for a brand-new historical thriller?

Back of Book

It's 1975, and Misty Menard is a happily retired receptionist, living a cosmopolitan life in Washington, DC until she suddenly inherits her father's business in Lake Placid, New York. Like so many baby boomer business owners facing the "silver tsunami" today, AJ Menard failed to prepare for succession. He told his daughter that he planned to sell his business to its general manager, so it never occurred to Misty that she could wind up as the CEO of a good old-fashioned manufacturing company.

The city woman returns to the mountains she left behind decades ago, reconnects with friends, and reunites with family. Betty is an interior decorator with untold secrets. Misty's pride and joy is her great-grandson, a child prodigy and aspiring Olympic champion figure skater with a big problem.

At Father's funeral, Misty encounters an enemy. Lois Phelps was a childhood friend but became a rival for Misty's ex-husband's affections. Misty and Lois took turns stealing the man from each another. Finally, Misty married the man and moved away whereas Lois spent decades plotting revenge. The mysterious, shrouded foe isn't Misty's only problem. Her father's management team relentlessly tries to expel their new leader.

After years of working for lawyers, Misty knows a few things about the law. Her favorite young attorney, Ted Drake, is making a name for himself, helping traditionally owned companies become employee owned, using a little-known, newly-passed law. When Attorney Drake offers to help Misty convert the Adirondack Dowel and Spindle Company into an ESOP, pro bono, Misty jumps at the chance.

The employees are stunned, the management team becomes hostile, and the Board of Directors is concerned. Misfortune quickly follows the business transformation. A big customer files for bankruptcy. A catastrophic ice jam floods the business. Stagflation freezes the economy. The Trustee is convinced something fishy is going on, the appraiser keeps lowering the company's value, and the banker demands additional capital infusions. Misty thought she had left her smoking addiction and alcoholism in the past, but when a worker's finger is severed in an industrial accident, Misty relapses.

A string of unforeseeable disasters threatens to doom the troubled company. After surviving two world wars and the Great Depression, it breaks Misty's heart to think that she has destroyed her father's company. All she wants is to cement her father's legacy and take care of the people who built the iconic local business.


Can a quirky CEO and her loyal band of dedicated employee owners save an heirloom company from foreclosure, repossession, and bankruptcy?

Pick up a copy of If It's the Last Thing I Do now... if it's the last thing you do!

Book Cover for If It's the Last Thing I Do
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

Praise for If It's the Last Thing I Do

Long List - Somerset Book wards for Contemporary & Literary Novels

Editorial Review - Chanticleer Book Reviews

5-Star Rating​

If It’s The Last Thing I Do by David Fitz-Gerald tells the story of Misty Menard, a 69-year-old woman who in 1975 returns to her upstate New York hometown to attend the funeral of her beloved father. She is dumbfounded to find she has inherited his business, making wooden dowels and buttons.

A receptionist for most of her adult life, with no business experience, she is at best ill-suited to the job. Personal problems hang over her as well, as a divorcee determined to keep sober and cigarette-free while in weekly therapy. But to keep her father’s memory alive, she is determined to keep the business afloat while she decides what to do with it in the long term. The last thing she imagined she would be doing on the cusp of 70 was running a business.

She turns the business into an employee-owned enterprise, an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan.) This gives her employees a shot at owning part or all of the business. The skill with which If It’s the Last Thing I Do integrates ESOP into its story, making it digestible, is among its many pleasures.

Her three-man management team is aggressively against it, and the local bank that hosts the trust and handles its transactions is resistant to providing loans to facilitate the deal. As the ESOP continues taking shape, the bank becomes its mortal enemy.

While those issues would be difficult on their own, the collapsing economy of that era pushes Misty’s company to the brink of insolvency.

Buyers emerge offering to purchase it on the cheap. There are unexplained incidents of vandalism on the premises. And in an almost Biblical moment, a huge storm brings raging floods that threaten to destroy the company’s physical foundations.

The decision to turn the company over to its employees, giving them a stake in its future, becomes more complex as the financial noose tightens.

Misty’s family life adds yet more weight to her shoulders.

Her husband abandoned her for another woman. One of her two sons is dead, leaving the other son to bring up his nephew, who in turn has a child. That child, a boy nicknamed Four, has ambitions to become an Olympic skater, but finds his path may not wind up as he envisioned.

Misty is filled with self-doubts. She makes decisions from the heart instead of from practicality. But her belief in the rightness of her decisions, her essential goodness, is one of this novel’s strengths. People both good and wicked drive this story, their motivations and machinations not always apparent at first.

Readers who enjoy a well-paced, gripping novel should put If It’s The Last Thing I Do on top of their reading list. Misty’s complex relationships with her family and her own mortality, combined with her efforts as a CEO, turn this novel into a true page-turner.

Editorial Review - The Historical Fiction Company

4 1/2-Star Rating

When Misty Menard inherits her father’s company, she isn’t sure how it is going to go and it certainly isn’t what she had pictured for her life. Misty sets out to transform the company into an ESOP (employee stock benefit plan) that would put ownership of the company in the hands of the employees. The change doesn’t happen as smoothly as Misty had planned and her life and business become wrought with issues. All she wants is to save her father’s company and legacy and to do so, she will have to work together with her employees and overcome each looming disaster. Set in 1975 New York, the author brings in historical elements and does a great job providing an authentic historical setting that historical fiction fans will appreciate.


“It's funny how familiar people can become when they share an intensely emotional experience. It dawned on me slowly. Father's lawyer, Winslow Gloversmith, Esquire called me 'dear.' What does that mean? I'm old enough to be the man's… older sister. I looked back into his arresting eyes and he handed me a letter. My name was on the envelope in my father's handwriting, along with the words, open in private after the contents of the last will and testament are divulged.”

The plot is well-developed and easy to follow. The main character, Misty, faces a number of disasters and is forced to navigate several business deals. Much of the vocabulary used in the novel is not familiar to the average reader but the author does a fantastic job writing explanations into the text in a way that feels natural. Readers will easily be able to follow the story and understand what is happening without feeling overwhelmed. Fitz-Gerald is an excellent writer and makes it easy for his readers to stay engaged with excellent pacing as well.


“Most days I felt like I could run the company. Despite the fact I spent my working years as a receptionist, which was hardly the sort of job one takes if they'd like to become an executive, the company seemed to be doing better in the year after I inherited it than it did in the year prior. I loved Father's employees, and yet I often reminded myself that I was seventy years old. I knew I should be retired, enjoying my golden years, and spending all my free time baking cookies for Four, feeding birds, and collecting antiques.”


While the book falls into the historical fiction genre, historical events and the period are not the focus of the novel as is often the case in historical fiction novels. The author uses his knowledge of history in a way that enhances the story by creating a unique setting but the business and experiences of the main characters are really the focus of the book. Even without a strong historical focus, it is clear that the author understands the time period and culture of the 1970s in America and business.


“A woman in a dark, hooded cloak caught my eyes and I recognized Lois Phelps. I tried to remember the last time I had seen her hate-filled expression glaring back at me through oversized sunglasses. She stared at me as I made my way to the front door of the bank. A creepy sensation crawled along the back of my neck and I quickened my pace.”


Fitz-Gerald is also able to weave that knowledge of 1970s culture into the development of his characters. His characters are relatable yet still seem to fit into the era in which the book is set. He depicts an experience for a woman in business during this time period in a very real and believable manner while still leaving the readers rooting for Misty.


“A thumping sound interrupted my sobs. I was immobilized by fear and my half-shed tears froze in a flash. A garbled voice sounded like someone trying to shout with a mouthful of food. The sound came from the small closet where we hung the coats of our guests. I climbed to my feet and took a few wobbly steps forward, lifted my gun into position, and turned the doorknob.”


The likely intended audience is those readers who enjoy dramas and thrillers. While it does have historical elements and a historical setting, it is not a traditional historical fiction that many readers will expect from this genre. Those who enjoy legal or business dramas will find If It's the Last Thing I Do an enjoyable read. It is an interesting read that combines elements of several different genres making it an appealing book for a wide variety of readers.


“When I knocked, he greeted me at the doorway, kissed me politely on the cheek, and took my coat. I stepped into his narrow office and made myself comfortable on the sofa overlooking Mirror Lake. Then I looked into Winslow's emerald eyes and burst into tears. He poked a handkerchief into my hand and I covered my face. Winslow sat beside me on the sofa, extended a comforting arm across my back, and pulled me slightly against him.”


Overall, If It's the Last Thing I Do is an interesting read that will draw readers in but might prove to be a bit of a letdown for those who are seeking a true historical fiction novel that is based strongly on historical events or eras. A well-developed plot and characters combined with excellent writing and an accurate depiction of the time period and culture of the 1970s earn If It's the Last Thing I Do a solid 4.5 out of 5 rating. It is an entertaining story that readers will find themselves enrapt in from the very first page.

If It's the Last Thing I Do by David Fitz-Gerald receives 4.5 stars from The Historical Fiction Company

Editorial Review

Pat Wahler, Author of The Rose of Washington Square

5-Star Rating

In 1975, Misty Menard, a newly retired woman living in Washington DC, is called home to Lake Placid upon her father’s death. Misty is shocked to discover that she has inherited the struggling Adirondack Dowel and Spindle Company, making her owner and CEO. She’s torn on whether to personally nurture the struggling business her father loved, or sell it as soon as possible and return to her comfortable life in the city.

Misty soon discovers trouble simmers all around her. A former classmate holds on to a long-standing resentment. Managers at her father’s company want her to pack up and leave. Friends and family in Lake Placid have secrets of their own. What Misty decides to do could not only make or break the company, but jeopardize her life.

This book has a unique and creative premise, utilizing a female protagonist who is nearly seventy years old, yet smart and tough enough to tackle any difficulty that comes her way. Conflicts are introduced early on and multiply as the story progresses, which keeps the reader engaged and curious about what will happen next. I learned a lot about the concept of Employee Stock Ownership Plans, and found it most refreshing to read a story that features a conflicted yet capable woman “of a certain age.”

bottom of page