Title: The Last Time I Lied
Author: Riley Sager
Publication Date: July 3, 2018
Age Range: Adult
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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.
In the new novel from the bestselling author of Final Girls, The Last Time I Lied follows a young woman as she returns to her childhood summer camp to uncover the truth about a tragedy that happened there fifteen years ago.
TW/CW: mental illness (schizophreniform), alcoholism, negative comments about food, loss of a loved one
This was a reread for me and I really enjoyed it the second time around. Riley Sager is becoming one of my favorite thriller authors. I think he does a fantastic job creating interesting scenarios and super interesting plots.
I loved the eery camp setting of this book. I think Sager does a really good job establishing the camp as a fun, yet creepy setting and gives Em a really compelling reason to return to the camp.
Too many books that do the ~going back to the place where the day thing happened so many years ago~ don’t give the protagonist a good enough reason to return to the scene of the crime or keep them in the bad location for a dumb reason. By having Em return to the camp where her cabin mates disappeared as a form of closure gives her a good reason to return and explains why she couldn’t just leave when bad stuff started to happen.
“My future is quite literally a blank canvas, waiting for me to fill it.”
I also really like the subplot about the history of the camp and how this history played into the larger mystery. It was just as interesting as the main story and allows Emma to have a reason to do the digging that leads to the final conflict. Both plots were blended so well that I didn’t find myself more intrigued with one over the other, they were balanced and equally compelling.
I also liked the parallels between Emma’s first time at camp and her return to camp. I think Sager did a great job of making this camp feel super believable and spending plenty of time on day-to-day activities at the camp without stalling before the true thriller components.
The ending of this book was definitely the strongest part. I am purposely not doing a spoiler corner for this one because I think knowing how it ends will ruin your experience reading this one for the first time. The use of red herrings and a fantastic last-second twist really made this book stand out and allowed it to work on a reread. Even though I knew how this book was going to end and remember way more plot details than I realized, I was still super entertained with this book and eager to keep reading. I think this book would translate to film really easily and make a super interesting movie.
The Last Time I Lied is my favorite Riley Sager book to date. I thought this one had a super satisfying ending with a memorable last-second twist. I thought the various plot lines were balanced and equally as compelling as the main plot, allowing for the book to flow well and never have a dull moment. The only thing keeping this one from a 5 star is that it doesn’t have the ~5 star feel~ but is still one of my favorite thrillers to date. If you’re looking for a fun thriller, filled with all those summer vibes, I highly recommend this one!