The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
The Last Time I Lied is a fantastically plotted thriller that kept me guessing until the very end. This is the summer camp thriller you’ve been waiting for!
About the Book
Publisher: Dutton Books | Release Date: July 3, 2018 | Pages: 370
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller | Format: eARC | Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. 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. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.
Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present. And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.
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Friends, this book was exactly what my reading/fantasy slump needed! The Last Time I Lied is a fantastically plotted thriller that kept me guessing until the very end. This is the summer camp thriller you’ve been waiting for!
My cat, Devi, as an accurate before and after representation.
Fifteen years ago, Emma was 13 and spending her first summer at Camp Nightingale. Two weeks later her cabinmates disappeared, never to be seen again. Unless you consider the fact that she’s haunted by what happened that night and secretly paints them into each of her paintings. Now Camp Nightingale is set to reopen for the first time since that summer and Emma is among a handful of prior campers returning as instructors. She is determined to figure out what happened to her friends that night, and it is almost immediately apparent that Emma didn’t tell all that she knew about that night. The Last Time I Lied is told in Emma’s perspective, alternating between the present and fifteen years ago: her experiences during those two weeks at camp before their disappearance and Emma digging to uncover the clues about what happened. Sager navigates the dual timelines device perfectly to slowly build the suspense in both.
“Two truths and a lie, ladies. I’ll start.”
Emma’s an unreliable narrator that holds back critical information from the reader. We know that she lied fifteen years ago but despite the narration being in first-person she doesn’t think about those lies in detail. I really enjoyed the way the mystery grew and the plot developed slowly, and knowing from the beginning that Emma has a big secret had me on edge wanting to figure it all out – I love when the unreliable narrator is executed well, and it is here!
“But the past clings to the present. All those mistakes and humiliations following us as we march inevitably forward. There’s no ignoring them.”
I will admit that I struggled a bit with the first part of the book and wasn’t completely sold on the book. I really did not like Vivian as a character and the flashbacks reminded me of Regina George and Alison DiLaurentis. The fat shaming and control that Vivian exerts over her friends are lowkey gross and it made me angry. However, by the end of the first part, I was hooked and swept away into the story, devouring the rest of the book in one sitting.
Overall this is a thriller that definitely deserves the hype it has received, but it is best to go in as blind as possible. Know that as more information becomes available to the reader you will have a bunch of theories develop. This is an intricately plotted story and so well done that I was impressed when I got to the end. I really enjoyed The Last Time I Lied, and if I were to base my rating on the second part of the book it would have easily been a 4.5-5 star read but my reading experience, in the beginning, was closer to a 3.5. I definitely recommend this to everyone that loves thrillers and if you enjoyed Jar of Hearts this one is up your alley!
Let’s go on another adventure together!