Title: The Last Time I Lied
Author: Riley Sager
Source: Free ARC from Dutton
Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Dutton via Edelweiss. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.
Goodreads Summary: 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.
Review: The setting of this book appealed to me immediately. An all-girls summer camp in a remote area next to a man-made lake? Yes, please! The main character is a successful artist? I’m in! Away camp is a classic setting for thrillers and horrors alike for obvious reasons. As a once-upon-a-time teenage camp counselor for Camp Green Meadows (just outside of Yosemite), I know from personal experience. There is something about a place like that which makes you painfully aware of your fragility and vulnerability.
But I digress…hands down, this book is a thriller. I was so drawn in that I finished the last 70(ish)% in one sitting (a real luxury for me). It was actually unputdownable. Truly. The history of the camp was fascinating. Emma’s need to work through her frightening experience at camp as a girl through her painting (paintings I’d be curious to see, if they weren’t fictional) was compelling. Going back and revisiting all those messy teenage girl feelings was kind of cathartic. And did I mention the story is awesome? Because it was. Atmospheric, enthralling, properly paced, sharply written…I don’t have a bad word to say about it. Solid 5 star read. Can’t wait to go back and read Final Girls!