THE LAST TIME I LIED | Riley Sager
07.03.2018 | Dutton
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Emma Davis is a rising star in the New York art scene. What the world doesn’t know is that her woodsy paintings are hiding a secret from her childhood. Beneath the layers of paint are three girls in white nightgowns. Three girls that haunt Emma’s past. Memories of Vivian, Natalie, and Allison will forever be with her. Fifteen years ago Emma watched as the three girls she was sharing her cabin with at Camp Nightingale disappeared into the night and never returned. They were never found and no one knows where they went that night. The girls simply vanished.
On the night of her gallery showing Emma is approached by the wealthy owner of her former summer camp, Francesca “Franny” Harris-White. Not only does Franny want to buy Emma’s art, but she also has a proposition for her. Franny is reopening Camp Nightingale and wants Emma to spend the summer there as the art instructor. Eager to finally put the mystery of what happened to her friends to rest, Emma agrees to head to the place of her nightmares. Emma soon finds herself sifting through a tangled web of lies and secrets surrounding Camp Nightingale and the events of fifteen years ago. Can Emma find the truth?
But the past clings to the present. All those mistakes and humiliations following us as we march inevitably forward. There’s no ignoring them.
THE LAST TIME I LIED was a highly anticipated Summer release that I immediately snagged when Book of the Month listed it as one of their selections. This book kept getting shuffled around on my TBR, until finally Instagram’s Criminally Good Book Club selected it as the November pick. I spent my extended Thanksgiving holiday weekend binging this book!
Riley Sager drops the reader in present day with Emma and her gallery show. Specific chapters contain flashbacks to fifteen years earlier, where we are able to learn from Emma’s perspective what happened during her two week stay at Camp Nightingale. These flashbacks coincide perfectly with Emma’s eventual return to the camp and her investigation into what happened to Vivian, Natalie, and Allison. Sager teases out information about past events while Emma is engrossed in her present day discoveries, which help the reader to understand why certain characters made or are making decisions and the emotions these characters may be dealing with. I loved the addition of the mystery of the land that Camp Nightingale was built on and how that played into the mystery surrounding the girl’s disappearance. I always find it enjoyable when an author can weave in multiple past elements that truly matter to the progression of the present day situation. Sager has proven himself more than capable of this technique within the pages of both THE LAST TIME I LIED and FINAL GIRLS.
So much water. So much land.
So many places to disappear.
While I ultimately fell in love with this book, I did dock off half a star because it took me longer to become invested in the story than I was expecting. When I read FINAL GIRLS I could not get enough from the very first page. This time around, I had a few issues connecting with Emma, but eventually those issues dissipated as I started to understand what made her tick. Riley Sager is a phenomenal thriller writer and THE LAST TIME I LIED is a perfect example of how he is able to weave a deceptive story that will keep you on your toes until the very last page. Oh and speaking of those last pages…WOW! You definitely got me there, Sager!
All hours wound; the last one kills.