Published by Dutton Books on July 3rd 2018
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While reading my second book by Sager, I can’t help but think that he is an 80’s horror movie fan or at least grew up in the 80’s watching these flicks. His other book, “Final Girls” read like an 80’s horror film to me (which I loved!) and while reading The Last Time I Lied, I felt as if I was at Camp Crystal Lake….oops…I meant at Camp Nightingale. And no, there is no killer in a hockey mask chasing camp counselors through the woods here, but it does have that camp in the middle of the woods, campers tell each other rumors about the camp’s dark history. Is there any truth to these rumors or are the girls just trying to scare each other?
When Emma was thirteen years old her parents sent her to “camp rich bitch” a.k.a. Camp Nightingale. Since she arrived late, she is placed in a cabin called Dogwood with three older teens: Vivian, Allison, and Natalie. One-night Emma wakes to see the trio sneaking out and is told she is to0 young to go with them. The three teens are never seen again.
Fifteen years later, Emma is an artist who cannot stop drawing the images of the missing girls in her artwork. She is still haunted by that summer and the events which led up to the disappearance of the missing teens. When the camp owner, Francesca Harris-White, invites her to return to the camp for its re-opening, Emma is torn but eventually agrees to teach art lessons at the camp. Emma hopes this will help her move on and come to terms with the events of that summer and the disappearance of her bunk mates.
From the start, things don’t seem to be going according to plan. Emma is back in the cabin she shared with the missing girls fifteen years ago. This is only the beginning. Searching for the truth, she stumbles upon some clues left behind by one of the girls. Someone must not have warned her to “be careful what you wish/look for” What happens when what you’ve been searching for, comes looking for you? Will finding the truth set her free or make things worse? Can you ever go back again? YES, she does go back …but you know what I mean.
A lot of characters have secrets in this book – I loved this! The cabin mates loved to play “two truths and a lie”. I felt as if I were playing that game right along with them, trying to decipher what was real, what was a lie, who is lying (if anyone), who is being deceptive, who is reliable, etc. This was a fun and creepy (yes things can be fun and creepy at the same time!) jaunt through the woods! Ahhh, I could hear the twigs breaking underfoot, see the ripples in the lake and hear the birds chirping. What I couldn’t do was find those missing “mean girls.” I dare you..no wait..I triple dog dare you to try and figure this book out! If you do, then you are a better super sleuth that I am! I pinkie promise you that this book delivers on a few twist and turns.
There are a lot of characters in this book, but I never found this to be confusing. I found it easy to keep track of everyone. Some of the characters are likable, some not so much, some are mean, some seem too syrupy sweet, some will seem deceptive and some you may not trust. I love how he draw them to stir the plot and keep the reader guessing.
At first this book did seem a little slow to me, mainly because I wanted to be instantly grabbed by this book as I was Final Girls. But I found as I kept reading, I became hooked. Going back and forth in time, looking for clues, I was invested in learning what happened. I felt for characters and was suspicious of them, and then a character would do something or say something and then I suspected them. Thus, I was intrigued and HAD to know whodunit! The woods, cabin and lake were the perfect back drop for this riveting book about missing girls, the search for the truth, the pains of growing up, and the guilt of lies.
**There is nothing graphic or overly scary in this book. This has a horror vibe but really is a mystery.
I received a copy of this book from Dutton Publishing and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.