The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager shows a summer camp gone horribly, horribly wrong.
When Emma was younger, she attended Camp Nightingale, an elite summer camp. One night, her three roommates went missing. Through the years, Emma has struggled with their disappearance and her role in it. Though the author is vague, we learn early on that Emma is not entirely innocent, nor honest.
Now, 15 years later, she’s invited to the camp’s reopening. Against her better judgment, she agrees, thinking perhaps it can bring closure.
We all know what happens next, right? Instead of closure, she walks right into danger.
The Last Time I Lied follows much of the same pattern established in Sager’s other book (one of my favorites of 2017), The Final Girls. Pretty woman in her late twenties or early thirties suffered past trauma that is now revisiting her. She’s mentally damaged and not sure she can trust her perception of what’s happening, making her an unreliable narrator. Everyone in her orbit is a suspect.
Though both books are cut from the same pattern, they don’t necessarily feel the same. The storylines differ enough to make each book original in its own right.
My main qualm: what I like to call the Scooby-Doo ending. It’s one in which the evil-doer is caught and immediately says something to the effect of, “Yeah, I did it! And I woulda gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids!”
Then, the villain proceeds to tell his victim or captor in great detail of everything they did to pull off their plans. Every false turn is explained. Every red herring, fished. It’s like they unconsciously call a time out on the action.
The rest of the story, though, is riveting.
As stated in the author bio on the book jacket, Riley Sager is a pseudonym. Despite my initial misperception, Riley Sager is actually a man. It’s representative of a trend we’re seeing more of lately, in which male authors are taking gender-neutral and sometimes even feminine-sounding pen names in order to make their books more marketable.
Particularly in the thriller and crime fiction genres, female authors are killing it lately (pun intended). Think of Karin Slaughter, Gillian Flynn, Shari Lapena. In an effort to capture that same opportunity for success, male authors are taking on names such as J.P. Delaney, S.K. Tremayne, A.J. Finn.
I can’t say I fault them for taking that approach. Any author of any gender puts so much work into their art. Why not make it as accessible as possible? After all, women have been taking the same approach for centuries, taking no gender-neutral or male pseudonyms. George Elliott. Curler Bell, J.K. Rowling. Robert Galbraith (yes, I know those final to are the same people).
Back to The Last Time I Lied: it’s good. It’s really good. I so enjoy a thrilly thriller. This does the job quite nicely. I believe Riley Sager has become an instant buy author for me.
The Last Time I Lied
Published July 2018
Watch this book review of The Last Time I Lied and other bookish videos on my Read Remark YouTube channel.
Music credit: wistia.com
I bought this book via Book of the Month Club. This is not a sponsored post, but if you want to check them out, here’s my referral code.