The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda
Megan Miranda's psychological thriller has all the required elements, but lacks the wow factor to take it from enjoyable to excellent
The Last House Guest is a psychological thriller set in Littleport, Maine, which doubles both as a summer vacation spot for the wealthy, and a small harbour town for the local residents. Avery, a local, is drawn into the world of wealth when she's ‘adopted’ by Sadie Loman to be her best friend. For years, the girls are inseparable, until one summer Sadie is found dead. The police rule her death suicide; a year on, Avery believes it's not so simple, and is forced to investigate her best friend’s death before she is the one blamed.
With a strong premise and balanced writing, this has all the elements of a good psychological thriller: a deceptively simple death, characters each hiding their own secrets, and continuous suspense. Miranda is a skilled author, feeding the reader information at a slow and steady speed towards a highly anticipated reveal. Despite this, the novel lacks punch. Its timeline feels messy, flitting between summers with abandon, and most of the cast lack sufficient back story to provide an emotional connection, so that most of the action falls curiously flat.
The Last House Guest has all the necessary ingredients, including a striking plot and skilled writing, but lacks the wow factor that would make this truly first-rate. However, it does deliver a quick, easy and enjoyable read. [Mika Cook]