Have you ever played two truths and a lie?
Emma has. Her first summer away from home, she learned how to play the game. And she learned how to lie.
Then three of her new friends went into the woods and never returned . . .
Now, years later, Emma has been asked to go back to the newly re-opened Camp Nightingale. She thinks she’s laying old ghosts to rest but really she’s returning to the scene of a crime.
Because Emma’s innocence might be the biggest lie of all…
Expectations were incredibly high for the latest novel from Riley Sager. His debut novel Final Girls was a surprise hit for me as you can read in my review, I thought it was a superb psychological thriller with plenty of twists and would be ripe for a movie adaptation. Last Time I Lied ticks a lot of the same boxes, in fact it could be classed as a sequel of sorts as again we are dealing with another Final Girl.
Set between two timelines we are introduced to Emma, a 28-year-old artist who 15 years earlier wakes up one morning to find her cabin at Camp Nightingale empty, the three other girls she was staying with have quite literally disappeared overnight. Back in the current timeline the girls have still not been found and the fallout from the disappearance is still echoing today. Emma is invited back to Camp Nightingale to try to heal wounds, she also uses her return to start her own investigation about what actually happened.
Sager is a skilled writer, he has created a superb page turner, he is able to manipulate the reader down dead ends and reveal twists that were genuinely exciting. One of these twists was so well written I quite literally had a WTF moment. Sadly, it is also after this twist (about 70% into the book) that things start to slip. Now, this is not a book breaking deterioration, but for me the set up was so good, my already high expectations had sky rocketed. The author promised an epic finale which sadly never transpired. It’s an ending that felt a little safe, dare I say something I’ve read or seen several times before. Whilst I’m being critical, Emma occasionally didn’t react as you would expect her to either. One example…she knew she was being watched yet still decided to wander off for a late night swim.
Last Time I Lied has a superb cast of characters that are all suspects, and in Emma a really enjoyable unreliable narrator. It’s a superb read up until that brilliantly written twist. The book remains enjoyable with some fantastic set pieces in the latter third of the book, particularly the imagery of Emma in and around Lake Midnight as the mystery starts to unravel. Riley Sager has proven he has the chops to be able to write decent page turners, with characters that I was mostly invested in. If only the reveal was more satisfying this would of been a classic thriller, instead it felt a little too familiar. I do wonder if Sager had a different ending planned but changed it late on.
I’d still recommend Last Time I Lied, it’s a fun read that offers a lot. Like Final Girls I would love to see this adapted to the big screen. Sagers descriptions of Lake Midnight are ripe for a cinematic run out. Keep your expectations in check as that ending may leave you gasping for breath.
Star Rating (out of 5): 3***
RELEASE DATE: July 3rd 2018