The other day I wrote a post called You Might Like My Book Recommendations If... that was all about reader personality and book recommendations. In that post, I told you which five main things I personally look for in a book how my recommendations are going to skew in that direction. Well, this recommendation actually falls a little bit outside of that sweet spot because The Last Time I Lied only hits 3 of my usual 5 things I'm looking for, BUT it did the other three so well that I ended up not minding that this was a plot-driven book instead of character-driven.
So why did I pick up this book in the first place when I know that thriller/suspense novels are usually not as much in my wheelhouse as a reader? Well, first, it was a Book of the Month club pick and they usually don't let me down with choosing books. (By the way, if you're looking to expand you're reading horizons, I highly recommend joining BOTM. The cost of the hardback is cheaper than you can get it on Amazon, and you can skip months and not get charged if none of the five picks appeals to you. Plus, they offer a good variety each month. Note: the link is an affiliate link but I pay for my subscription and have not been asked to promote it.) But secondly, I picked up this book because I'm a sucker for horror movies and though this book is not horror, Riley Sager's thing is to turn horror movie type premises into thriller/suspense novels. So when I saw this summary (below) and realized it was the classic scary summer camp set up, I was totally in.
In the latest thriller from the bestselling author of Final Girls, a young woman returns to her childhood summer camp to uncover the truth about a tragedy that happened there fifteen years ago.
Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. But the games ended the night Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin into the darkness. The last she--or anyone--saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.
Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings--massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. When the paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale, she implores Emma to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor. Seeing an opportunity to find out what really happened to her friends all those years ago, Emma agrees.
Familiar faces, unchanged cabins, and the same dark lake haunt Nightingale, even though the camp is opening its doors for the first time since the disappearances. Emma is even assigned to the same cabin she slept in as a teenager, but soon discovers a security camera--the only one on the property--pointed directly at its door. Then cryptic clues that Vivian left behind about the camp's twisted origins begin surfacing. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing mysterious threats in the present. And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale and what really happened to those girls, the more she realizes that closure could come at a deadly price.
Cool premise, right? And I have to say that the setting descriptions were so fantastic that I felt like I was in the forest or on the lake or huddling in a cabin late at night. The descriptions made it an immersive reading experience. This story is also a dual timeline (a technique I love, as those of you who've read my books know) and it follows the story of what happened fifteen years ago and what's happening now when Emma returns as a counselor. The shifting timelines really help build the mystery and plant so many red herrings and possible suspects that I ended up suspecting like five different people and still didn't figure it out lol. So if you love a book filled with clues and misdirection, this will hit those buttons. As I mentioned above, the main character (the only POV we get) wasn't as layered as I usually prefer, but she was sympathetic and I didn't mind spending time in her head. I also had trouble keeping track of some of the other characters at the camp and had to check back for names a few times, but really that was my only issue.
And then the ending, y'all... I had some fears going into this book that the twist would be of a certain type that is super popular right now (and one that I've grown really tired of), but I am happy to report that it is not the case! The ending of this book was SO satisfying and totally got me to send this GIF to my friends:
I love, love, love when a book tricks me and when I don't figure out the ending early. So this immediately made me want to pick up Sager's other book (which I already own) Final Girls. So though this is a little outside my normal recommendations, I think those of you who like a great creepy thriller with a good mystery should pick this one up.
What have you read lately that you loved?