Thank you very much to Dutton for providing my free copy – all opinions are my own.
Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. But the games ended the night Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin into the darkness. 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. When the paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale, she implores Emma to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor. Seeing an opportunity to find out what really happened to her friends all those years ago, Emma agrees.
So much water. So much land. So many places to disappear.
This is a fantastically dark, psychological thriller that kept me up way past my bedtime. Fifteen years ago, Emma Davis was away at Camp Nightingale when three girls staying in her cabin disappeared, never to return. Now, Emma is all grown up, a successful new artist offered a job as an art instructor at Camp Nightingale. Haunted by the past, Emma seizes the opportunity to find out what happened to her friends all those years ago. I could not put this book down! Dare I say it’s even better than Sager’s first?!! It’s really a tough call!
The narrative alternates between present day and flashbacks fifteen years ago. Seriously, from the prologue I was hooked. Emma is a sole survivor so this makes her a very sympathetic and unreliable narrator – the best kind! Sager is a genius writer when it comes to creating an uneasiness and dread that makes for the perfect, eerie atmosphere. Every page, every sentence flowed and was paced perfectly with plenty of twists and turns until the very end. You get every piece of the puzzle but have to ride it out with the narrator until the very last page. THE LAST TIME I LIED is a tension building, all around fun and brilliant read! I will forever automatically buy any book Sager puts out!
My rating is 5 out of 5 stars!
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About the Author:
Riley Sager is the pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer. Now a full-time author, Riley’s first thriller, FINAL GIRLS, was a national bestseller that has been published in 25 languages. His latest book, THE LAST TIME I LIED, was published in July. A native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
Riley Sager Q&A
She Reads with Cats: What was your inspiration for writing THE LAST TIME I LIED? Was the experience different writing this book than writing your debut novel FINAL GIRLS?
Riley Sager: I find a lot of inspiration in movies, and THE LAST TIME I LIED was no different. The main inspiration was the Australian movie adaptation of the book Picnic at Hanging Rock. It’s a fascinating story about girls vanishing in the wilderness and how it affects those who knew them. The setting was inspired by something completely different—The Parent Trap. I grew up watching the original and always loved the first half that takes place at camp. It struck me that a summer camp is the perfect setting to explore teenage friendships and secrets and the idea that some campfire tales might have a ring of truth.
Writing it was far different than writing FINAL GIRLS, which just flowed effortlessly.
THE LAST TIME I LIED went through many, many revisions. I think only a third of what was in my first draft made it into the finished product. I knew what I wanted the book to be. It just took a ton of trial and error to get it to that point.
She Reads with Cats: How do you research your books? Do you find your journalism background to be helpful?
Riley Sager: Most of my research involves Googling basic logistical things. How long does it take to drive from Manhattan to the Adirondacks? What’s the landscape like there? What are the native plants? I did need to get a little more in depth about certain things, but to mention them would probably be a spoiler.
My background in journalism prepared me well for the world of publishing. I learned how to work with an editor, how it’s important to write with clarity, how you must always be thinking about the reader. It also taught me how to work on deadline, which really came in handy with THE LAST TIME I LIED. I had a crazy tight deadline for revisions, and I managed to meet it. I’m not sure that would have been the case if I didn’t have two decades of meeting deadlines under my belt.
She Reads with Cats: When you’re not writing thrillers, what genre of books do you typically read? Any books you’ve recently read and enjoyed?
Riley Sager: I read anything that strikes my fancy. Literary fiction, thrillers, classics, nonfiction. What I haven’t had of late is time to do much pleasure reading. I read less when I’m writing, because I don’t want another author’s voice to sneak into my own work. But I can tell you the books I’m looking forward to reading—THE OUTSIDER by Stephen King, BIG WOODS by May Cobb and GIVE ME YOUR HAND by Megan Abbott.
She Reads with Cats: If you had to describe THE LAST TIME I LIED in three words, what would they be?
Riley Sager: Creepy summer camp.
She Reads with Cats: I’ve just finished reading THE LAST TIME I LIED and it’s already one of my favorites of 2018! Can you tell us what you’re working on next?
Riley Sager: It’s a secret, for several reasons. One, I’m still writing it, and things always change in the editing and revision process. Two, I want it to be a surprise. The only hint I can give is that I’m moving from cabins in the woods to a sinister apartment building in Manhattan.
Special thanks to the author for taking the time to answer my questions. I am already excited for the next book!! Aren’t you?