Thursday, June 28, 2018

ARC Review: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

The Last Time I Lied
Author: Riley Sager
Publication: Dutton (July 3, 2018)

Description: 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.

My Thoughts: Emma has been haunted for fifteen years by the events that happened at Camp Nightingale when she was thirteen. Her three cabinmates - Vivian, Natalie, and Allison - disappear one night and are never seen again. Emma suffered a mental breakdown and was hospitalized when she kept hallucinating seeing Vivian all over the place. She is still in therapy. She is an artist who is becoming known for her large paintings of deep, dark forests. Only she knows that she begins each painting with portraits of the three girls and then covers them all up with the forests.

When Franny Harris-White, the wealthy owner of the camp, asks Emma to come be the artist in residence at the camp's reopening, she is fearful but eager to try to finally learn what happened to the three girls.

Emma finds herself back in the same cabin with three new young girls. She gradually uncovered the secrets that Vivian was keeping and tells the reader the secrets that she has been keeping. Many of the people who were at the Camp the first time - Franny, her companion Lottie, her sons Theo and Chet - are there again and Emma is suspicious about all of their actions. She gets even more suspicious when she finds a camera aimed at her cabin, sees suspicious shadows outside the cabin, and finds the word Liar in red paint on the cabin door. These things combine with her own mental state since she is sure that she is catching glimpses of Vivian.

When the three girls who share Emma's cabin in the present go missing, it is like the whole nightmare scenario is happening again. But this time the police are really trying to pin the crime on Emma.

The story is told in the present and also fifteen years in the past. Each part adds one more piece to a complex and frightening puzzle. This book was a real page turner. It was hard to put down since each page added one more clue to a puzzle that had haunted Emma for years.

Favorite Quote:
Vivian sighed and began the swim back to the canoe. "Everything is a game, Em. Whether you know it or not. Which means that sometimes a lie is more than just a lie. Sometimes it's the only way to win.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

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