“The only way out is through.”
Emma Davis was 13 when a tragedy at Camp Nightingale, a super posh and exclusive summer camp, changed the course of her life. Emma’s cabin mates, Vivian, Natalie, and Allison went missing in the dead of night. In the following 15 years, Emma worked through her trauma through art, becoming a painter of some renown.
When one of her paintings catches the eye of Franchesca Harris-White, the owner of the now closed and disgraced Camp Nightingale, Emma receives an odd request: come back to camp as an art instructor for its grand reopening. Emma jumps at the chance to play detective and hopefully find closure from the trauma that has dominated her life and her art all these years.
The Last Time I Lied is a slow build but does successfully hook the reader into the mystery. The protagonist is a very well-developed character, and I found myself invested in Emma’s journey. Her inability to find closure and her willingness to go to drastic measures to get answers are emotionally compelling, and I was unable to put this book down. Sager also skillfully weaves together the past and present storylines.
That said, most of the secondary characters feel one-dimensional, and often seem to behave in ways that are convenient for moving the plot forward, but don’t necessarily make sense. The mystery is wrapped up in the end in a way that truly stretches the limits of credulity and leaves the reader with unanswered questions.
My overall impression of this book was of one that failed to fully live up to its potential. I loved the protagonist and the concept, and these were enough to keep me invested through the end, but the execution left something to be desired.