“The Last Time I Saw You” by Liv Constantine is a fabulous mystery. Like their first novel (Liv Constantine is actually two sisters), “The Last Mrs. Parrish,” which was a bestseller, this one has twists aplenty and keeps the reader glued to the story until the wonderful ending.
While some mysteries keep the reader guessing and then spring a surprise at the end, the Constantine sisters present many, many suspects, yet the ending isn’t really a total surprise. They’ve cleverly and carefully planted clues all along the way — clues that don’t seem to be clues unless viewed in retrospect — and the reader might begin to suspect toward the end, but won’t truly understand what has happened until the final reveal.
It’s about heart surgeon Kate English, who comes from a very wealthy family and is married to a heartthrob-handsome architect, Simon. They have one daughter, Annabelle. When Kate’s mother Lily is killed at the start of the story, almost everyone is suspect. Then when Kate starts getting threatening messages from someone who is apparently close to her, the nightmare ramps up.
Blaire, Kate’s best friend when they were young, comes to Lily’s funeral, and the two resume their almost sister-like relationship. Blaire has married a bestselling author, and together, the two of them have written many successful novels. She is a superstar in her own right, but she drops everything to help her childhood friend.
The story alternates between the viewpoints of the two women, with Kate’s view the more prominent story. The reader wonders what is happening. Is Kate unstable? After her college accident in which her boyfriend was killed, and her resultant anxiety, is she losing it? Or is there a mad killer who has murdered her mother and now wants to kill Kate? Plenty of evidence points to Simon, the husband she is convinced is having an affair, but evidence also points to many others, perhaps even her father.
While sorting through the clues, the reader is treated to a glimpse into the lifestyle of the rich and famous. Beach houses, summer homes in Maine, European jaunts, and household staff are a regular part of the lives of those who live in the pages of this story. It’s an enjoyable trip into the “one percent” life, and a reminder that even the people with more money than most will ever be able to imagine have their very real troubles.
This is a fabulous choice for a book club or just a book to read while relaxing on the beach — Saint Tropez or your local lake — while pondering “whodunit.”
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Harper, for review purposes.