The Last Time I Saw You – Book Review

The Last Time I Saw You

by Liv Constantine
Published by: Harper Paperbacks
Publish Date: 2020
Genre(s): Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller
HB&W Rating: 2
View on Goodreads
Buy on Amazon: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Synopsis

Dr. Kate English has it all. Not only is she the heiress to a large fortune; she has a gorgeous husband and daughter, a high-flying career, and a beautiful home anyone would envy.

But all that changes the night Kate’s mother, Lily, is found dead, brutally murdered in her own home. Heartbroken and distraught, Kate reaches out to her estranged best friend, Blaire Barrington, who rushes to her side for the funeral, where the years of distance between them are forgotten in a moment.

That evening, Kate’s grief turns to horror when she receives an anonymous text: You think you’re sad now, just wait. By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll wish you had been buried today. More than ever, Kate needs her old friend’s help.

Once Blaire decides to take the investigation into her own hands, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems in Baltimore high society. As infidelity, lies, and betrayals come to light, and tensions rise to a boiling point, she begins to alienate Kate’s friends and relatives with her relentless, accusatory questions, as she tries to find Lily’s killer. The murderer could be anyone—friend, neighbor, loved one. But whoever it is, it’s clear that Kate is next on their list. . .

In The Last Time I Saw You, Liv Constantine takes the lightning pace of The Last Mrs. Parrish and raises the stakes, creating an exquisitely tension-filled and absorbing tale of psychological suspense in which innocent lives—and one woman’s sanity—hang in the balance.

Synopsis source: Goodreads

Review

She loved being the one to control everything, to decide who lived and who died, who stayed and who left.

I love thrillers. I especially love psychological thrillers, and as a result, I’ve read…..a few (a lot). This was my first book by the sister writing duo publishing under the pen name Liv Constantine. Their earlier book, The Last Mrs. Parrish, received rave reviews and that was enough for me that when my mom asked me if I wanted to borrow this one, I said absolutely!

I was in need of a good brain candy read. You know what I’m talking about, those books that don’t require anything from you, that exist purely for your entertainment, books you can read in a sitting or two and don’t have to think too hard about. Sadly, this was not that book for me.

The book opens strongly, with a woman gasping for breath in an inferno, struggling to make it to safety. It pretty much goes downhill from there. Why? Well, several things actually.

The characters are all rather unlikeable, especially the main character, Kate. While the murder of her mother makes me sympathetic to her, her behavior, entitlement, and lack of character development ensured that I just didn’t care if she lived or died. Much of the story we are told, not shown. For example, we are told Kate is a bad ass pediatric heart surgeon, but we aren’t given any flashbacks or scenes…we are never shown any of this side of her. We are only shown her shrill, paranoid, and erratic behavior during the extreme circumstances of her current situation. And while this behavior is expectedly worsened by Kate’s lifelong anxiety battles, that is yet another example of something we are told but not really shown…not well anyway.

The story felt like a series of false starts and like it was trying too hard. The “make everyone think she’s crazy so that she begins to question her own sanity” schtick seemed to have a lot of effort thrown into it and none of it really really rang creepy to me. There were also a lot of red herrings meant to throw us off but they were revealed too early and fell flat as a result. Is there a recipe for writing a thriller? A check list? I think they were using it. There was so much going on with so many characters that it was just a little disjointed and choppy as a result.

Also the strong emphasis on betrayal was a bit overreaching to me, as most of these “betrayals” stemmed from a misplaced sense of entitlement or jealousy, with one exception that was legit. I don’t want to tell you which one. You can read the book and discover that for yourself.

For a thriller, this book was pretty slow, which because of the previous reasons just made it all a bit boring to me. This is the exact opposite of a quick and entertaining brain candy read. I’m okay with a slow burn thriller, which I think was what this was going for, but just didn’t happen for me. This took me about two weeks to finish, because the interest just wasn’t there.

The ending was a bit predictable, pretty much from one of the first messages talking about Kate’s charmed life. The clues to the villain’s identity were there but the character development of the villain was not. I think they were trying to do the “surprise ending you don’t see coming” schtick, but the lack of character development of the villain was just too poor to pull that off. The climax of the story was just so far-fetched.

Lastly, the way the book ended was just…weird. It was almost like a too long epilogue that never gave any sense of real satisfaction to the end of the story. And frankly, it was really just an odd conclusion. I don’t want to say more and give it away, so you’ll need to see for yourself.

I think that the writing style of this book just wasn’t for me. It didn’t flow well, it just felt choppy. The poor character development and unbelievability factor of this novel were just too great to get past, so I can only give this book 2 stars. I’m willing to give these sisters another shot though. I guess I’ll need to pick up The Last Mrs. Parrish to see if it’s as good as everyone says it is.

That said, I think that there is a lot to discuss about this book, and so I’m excited to discuss it with everyone for my Books, WIPs, + Sips Book Club on Instagram Stories Live this coming Tuesday, June 1 at 7pm CST. Join me and my guest host, Leyla of Leylalicious as we sip some bevies, work a few stitches, and dish on this book. I hope I’ll see you there!

**Update: You can now watch the replay of our discussion on IGTV or YouTube!

Books, WIPs, + Sips Book Club
This title was a Books, WIPs, + Sips Book Club pick! Want to join in for future BWSBC discussions?? You can find full details in this post, as well as add your name to the list of potential guest hosts for future Lives!

The BWSBC happens on Instagram Stories Live every last Tuesday of the month at 7pm CST, with replays posted afterward on IG TV and YouTube. There will be a guest-host, books, yarn, a bevy or two, and lots of viewer interaction as we discuss that month’s book.

WARNING: there will be spoilers! Don’t worry though, I’ll let you know when to hop off if you haven’t read the book and don’t want to ruin the ending. 😉

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