The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge: 17. A book picked based on its spine
Other Possible Prompts: 1. A second person narrative, 15. A five-syllable title, 22. An unlikely detective, 23. An author with an X, Y, or Z in their name, 25. A wealthy character, 37. Set in a rural area, 41. Involves a second chance
Laughing yet again at the fact that Riley Sager’s books almost all fit the exact same prompts…clearly he doesn’t have a type or anything!
This is the very last Riley Sager novel I hadn’t read! I’ve now officially read everything he’s published, and loved most all of it. This one, surprisingly, lands near the top of my list, second only to Home Before Dark.
Fifteen years ago, Emma watched her three fellow campers – Vivian, Natalie, Allison – walk out of their cabin and into the night, never to return. Haunted by the loss and the lack of closure, she paints them – over and over, into all of her works. So when the chance to return to Camp Nightingale presents itself, even if it’s under strange circumstances, Emma jumps at it.
Now in the present day, Emma is determined to discover what happened to her friends. She hunts the camp for fifteen-year-old clues, and begins to narrow in on something sinister that Vivian seemed to be investigating the summer she disappeared. If one thing is for certain, no one at Camp Nightingale can be trusted.
This book held my attention all the way through, which is unusual for the Sager books I’ve read in the past (other than Home Before Dark). The story and the mystery and the *total lack of discernible answers* kept me so intrigued from the start that I could hardly put it down. I read this one in a day. I can’t believe we don’t really talk about The Last Time I Lied when we talk about Riley Sager!
The twist ending to this one is insane. Literally, the last ten pages will give you whiplash. And I loved it. I just need to know where I can find more writers with the skill in twist endings that he has, with the level of believability that he writes them with. I don’t like when it feels unnatural…but everything about this felt right, even if I wasn’t expecting it until it was unfolding.
This story is such a well-crafted whodunit, I could hardly keep pace with the number of suspicious characters. I don’t think I guessed the culprit, really, but I did always wonder why we weren’t looking at that particular character with more suspect. And then, of course, the twist. So yeah, this one’s pretty crazy, but it’s crazy all the way through.
I actually really liked Emma, too, for what it’s worth. I think she has some questionable moments, but overall, her drive to discover the truth and her guilt over her wrongs as a thirteen-year-old (of which there are many) are very compelling, and I think she’s caring enough to make you root for her happy ending. I don’t always feel that way about main characters in his books.
Which, also, can we talk about the fact that all of Sager’s leads are women? Every. Single. Book. I don’t understand this. He doesn’t write *bad* female characters, but they lack the depth and complexity a female writer would give them. Though admittedly, in a thriller context, I don’t think they necessarily need depth and complexity – but that’s besides the point. Endlessly intrigued by what the motive/reasoning is behind only writing female leads from a male perspective…and then having them continuously in grave danger. Weird hangup, but okay.
Regardless of our women in peril, I loved this book. Loved it. Now that I’ve read all of Sager’s novels I can see the progression in writing, which is wildly interesting. This, his second novel, lacks his staple paranormal element, but it also picks up way before the halfway mark, unlike his newer works.
Highly recommend. Hope you have a great week!