The Last Time I Saw You
I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Mrs. Parrish, the 2017 début by author Liv Constantine, so I was thrilled to learn she was coming out with something new. The Last Time I Saw You is another psychological thriller filled with compelling twists and complex characters, and while it lacks a bit of the previous novel’s wow factor, it’s definitely a book fans of this genre should plan to pick up.
Dr. Kate English is stunned when her mother Lily is found brutally murdered in her own home. Lily was one of those women everyone loves; she donated to countless charities, and always seemed to have time to support a friend in need. Kate can’t imagine anyone wanting to harm her mother, but it soon becomes obvious that Lily was hiding a terrible secret, a secret someone was determined to make her pay for keeping.
Understandably bereft by her mother’s sudden death, Kate reaches out to Blaire, her childhood best friend from whom she has been estranged for the past several years. The two had a terrible fight on the day of Kate’s wedding, and they haven’t spoken since. Now though, Kate needs Blaire’s support, and Blaire seems willing to lay their past disagreement to rest.
On the evening following Lily’s funeral, Kate receives a text message that appears to be from the killer implying that someone is playing a deadly game that will eventually result in Kate’s own death. No one knows who sent the message, and the police seem unwilling to take Kate’s concerns seriously, chalking the whole thing up to a sick prank.
Blaire hates the thought of someone harassing her friend in such a terrible manner, and she decides to do some investigating of her own. She and her husband have written a very successful series of crime novels, so Blaire fancies herself somewhat of an expert in solving mysteries. She begins asking questions of the people closest to Lily, and it doesn’t take long for her to realize that several people seemed to have grievances with Lily and solving the murder isn’t going to be as easy as she was expecting.
The story is told in alternating chapters from both Kate’s and Blaire’s points of view. Blaire is definitely the character who drives the novel forward, since she’s the one asking questions and stirring things up while Kate is struggling to come to terms with her terrible loss, her crumbling marriage, and the fact that an unknown person just might be out to kill her. Her chapters are more introspective than Blaire’s, and some readers might find her constant rehashing of events a bit boring.
If you don’t like reading stories filled with extremely wealthy characters, The Last Time I Saw You isn’t the book for you. Kate is the heiress to a huge fortune, and most of the other characters have tons of money as well. In some ways, this made it difficult for me to relate to Kate as a heroine since her life experiences are so incredibly different from my own. The author does try to make her relatable, but the huge amount of privilege that’s a part of Kate’s everyday life was hard to swallow at times.
I was completely shocked by the identity of the killer. Of course, once I knew who it was, I realized the author had been leaving little clues throughout the novel, clues I paid little attention to while I was reading. I love when an author can surprise me that way, forcing me to rethink portions of the story I first took at face value, and Ms. Constantine excels at this here.
Once the villain’s identity is revealed, things wrap up pretty quickly. Some portions of the ending felt a little too convenient, as if the author was trying too hard to give readers a neat and tidy conclusion to this messy story. I generally prefer endings to be a little more realistic, but I know everyone’s views on this will be a bit different.
I wouldn’t say The Last Time I Saw You is one of the best thrillers I’ve read lately, but it’s far from one of the worst. It must be hard to follow something as stellar as Ms. Constantine’s first novel, but this was a solid effort, and an overall enjoyable read.