An atmospheric mystery rather than horror yarn. 4/5 stars.
Thank you to Penguin Random House UK and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book.
Have you ever played two truths and a lie?
Emma has. Her first summer away from home, she learned how to play the game. And she learned how to lie.
Then three of her new friends went into the woods and never returned . . .
Now, years later, Emma has been asked to go back to the newly re-opened Camp Nightingale. She thinks she’s laying old ghosts to rest but really she’s returning to the scene of a crime.
Because Emma’s innocence might be the biggest lie of all…
Last year I read and enjoyed Riley Sager’s Final Girls but struggled with the book’s pacing. The first two thirds seemed to feature little more than the characters dithering about getting themselves into trouble unnecessarily before the blistering final third went a long way towards making up for all the preamble. Last Time I Lied doesn’t suffer from the same issue. The action is evenly paced. The chapters tend to alternate between the present and the past incident when Emma’s three cabin mates went missing. The present day narrative gets going quickly and the relevant events from the past are dripped in nicely to keep things moving forward and ramp up suspense.
As with Final Girls, this story feels very cinematic with fast-paced dialogue and simple yet vivid descriptions. I wouldn’t be surprised if the rights are snapped up and a film version is made soon. It would be good to see the cast, in which the main and most interesting roles go to young women and girls, brought to the big screen.
There is an over-riding creepy atmosphere and sense of paranoia in the story. For me, someone who can’t really “do” horror, this was good because the story was never truly scary, just tense. However, if you’re a horror fan you’ll probably be disappointed! There’s never the same level of danger as there was in Final Girls, and I think it’s fair to classify Last Time I Lied as a mystery with thriller elements rather than a horror story or dark thriller.
When the baddy was revealed I shrugged rather than gasped, mainly because there was a reduced suspect pool. However, there was a great “bonus” twist which I loved and meant the book picked up nicely at the very end. In fact, I think it’s a shame more wasn’t done with this final surprise (sorry to be so vague, but I don’t want to spoil it!).
Overall: a well-paced, tense, creepy story that will have you looking over your shoulder rather than jumping out of your skin. And hang on for the final twist!
Claire Huston / Art and Soul