The Last Time I Lied

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Riley Sager
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pub date: July 2018 (read Aug. 2018)

I didn’t read Riley Sager’s first book, Final Girls, because it sounds too disturbing for me, but The Last Time I Lied takes place at a creepy summer camp where campers start to go missing, and I love everything to do with the outdoors (even creepy mystery thrillers), so I was like, “sign me up!”

This book wasn’t as scary as I was anticipating, it has a creepy ambiance through most of the story, but I didn’t think the tension really started to build until the last 30%. But I was still totally into the mystery of the story and I was dying to know what our narrator, Emma, wasn’t telling us.

Emma was just 13 the first (and only) time she attends Camp Nightingale, a summer camp for wealthy young girls just outside of New York. Emma shows up to camp late and ends up being put in a cabin with 3 older girls – Natalie, Allison, and the enigmatic Vivian. Emma is enamoured with Vivian and quickly becomes caught up in the older girl’s drama. Vivian acts like a big sister to Emma, but as Emma discovers some of Vivian’s secrets, their friendship starts to splinter. Then, one night, Vivian, Natalie, and Allison disappear into the night, never to be seen again, forever imprinted upon Emma’s memory.

Flash forward 15 years, wealthy camp owner, Frannie, has decided to re-open the camp and invites Emma to be the camp’s art instructor. Emma decides to return to Camp Nightingale to try and find our what happened to Vivian so that she can finally move on with her life. But she quickly realizes upon arrival that everything is not as it seems at Camp Nightingale.

I was convinced I knew who had made the girls disappear, so I was thrilled when I was totally off the mark. The last 30% of this book is a wild ride and I loved the whole “person vs. nature” element on top of the character conflicts. The ending was a little too coincidental, but the last little twist Sager throws in at the very end f the novel totally blew my mind! The book also has an interesting psychological element where Emma keeps seeing things and you’re not sure what is and is not real.

Overall a solid mystery/thriller book. I’ll still probably take a pass on Final Girls, but I’m interested to see what Riley Sager writes in the future.

Killman Creek

 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Rachel Caine
Genres: Thriller, Horror, Mystery
Read: Dec. 2017

 

OMG, Why did I read this?? Stillhouse Lake was disturbing enough! I didn’t plan to read this one, but damn, I just had to know what was going to happen!

It’s pretty much impossible to review Killman Creek without spoilers for Stillhouse Lake since it ends on a huge cliffhanger, so if you haven’t read Stillhouse Lake yet, stop here. I won’t discuss any spoilers for Killman Creek though.

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

—– spoilers for Stillhouse Lake below—–

This book picks up right where the first one left off. Most of the criminals from the prison break have been caught, but of course Melvin Royal is still on the loose. Gwen decides to leave her kids behind with Javier and Kezia and go off with Sam in search of her ex-husband.

Killman Creek is such an emotional roller coaster. If you like thrillers, then this is the book for you, my heart was beating a mile a minute every time I picked up this book. I struggled with the first book in that I found it very graphically disturbing. This one was worse in that it was really emotionally disturbing on top of still being graphic.

I thought Lanny and Connor were basically going to be absent from this book, which I would have been okay with because I can’t deal with people who mess with kids and their story-line stressed me out so much. But they still had a large role in the book and both narrated sections of the story. This definitely made it a better novel and Caine explored a lot of interesting moral themes. We get more insight into Lanny and Connor’s experiences and the emotional struggles of having a serial killer for a father. Especially for Connor who was so young when his Dad was convicted and can only remember the good things about their relationship and really wants a father figure in his life.

This book is definitely a page-turner and once I started it I could not put it down or stop thinking about it. I’m giving it 4 stars because it really is a good book and Rachel Caine definitely made me feel things, but overall it’s just not the book for me. It reminds me a little of Behind Closed Doors, which I read last year, in that it’s a good book, it was just way too dark and disturbing. I’m surprised to see there is going to be a third book next year, but fortunately this one didn’t end on a cliffhanger, so this is where I will step out from this series.

Stillhouse Lake


Rating:
 ⭐⭐⭐.5
Author: Rachel Caine
Genres: Thriller, Mystery
Read: Nov. 2017

 

Oh my goodness, what a roller coaster ride! This book was so intense!

I was really impressed with the first chapter, Stillhouse Lake had such a strong start that it just instantly pulls you into the story and I couldn’t put it down once I started! I often put books on my TBR, forget what they’re about, and then start reading them without re-reading the synopsis, so I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into when I picked this up and even the first chapter was a shock to me.

The book starts with a drunk driver hitting Gina Royal’s garage, inadvertently revealing the horrors her husband has been hiding in his “workshop”. Gina had no idea the depth of deception of her serial killer husband, Melvin Royal, and is shocked to find a body hanging in their garage. The story then jumps 4 years ahead, Mel having been convicted and put on death row. Gina was tried as his helper, but was acquitted and has changed her identity (Gwen Proctor) and the names of her two children in an effort to escape the internet trolls screaming for her blood.

This was a really interesting premise because it looks at the lives of the family of a convicted serial killer. Psycho- and sociopaths, and abusers, are often very good at hiding their depravity and acting as normal members of society. They can often deceive their friends and co-workers, with their victims being the only ones to ever know their true selves. But it’s hard to believe you could be happily married to a serial killer and have no idea they were secretly torturing and killing women in your garage. This is the problem Gwen faces. Even though she was acquitted, few people believe her innocence and in the age of the internet, trolls make her life, and the lives of her children, hell.

Women are definitely the victims of an obscene amount of vitriol on the internet. It’s hard to come up with any feminist writer that I follow who hasn’t talked about the abuse and death threats they’ve received just for advocating for women’s issues. Even the average woman isn’t safe on social media from unsolicited opinions, anger, and let’s just say, unwanted photos. Most trolls won’t take their threats any further than an internet post, they mostly get off on psychological trauma, but there are the odd psychopaths out there, so I didn’t blame Gwen for taking the threats seriously and for the extreme lengths she went to protect herself and her children.

This is definitely a psychological thriller and I have to say, it really did mess with me. I was really been torn between 3 and 4 stars because I think this is a really good thriller novel, but I personally had to rate it down a little because I found parts of the novel so disturbing (I can’t handle anything that messes with children). Honestly, I kind of think it needs a trigger warning at the front. But it was a really fast paced novel that explored the theme of trust a lot. My heart broke for Gwen, she kept trusting all the wrong people and I can’t imagine how this would mess with your mind and instincts. I think I would have lost it if I was her, but she had to be strong for her children and I really admired her character for it.

I noticed this had a sequel when I was about half way through, which surprised me, but it had the perfect kind of cliffhanger at the end. One that gives you closure to the story, but has the perfect hook to pull you into the next one. I’m not quite sure if I can handle another book as intense and disturbing as this one, but I will probably still read it because I just need to know how it all turns out!!