Another week, another book recommended by Reese Witherspoon! The last Reese Witherspoon's Book Club book I read was a bit of a mess (read my review here), so I was hesitant to try this one! Luckily, I was wrong, and it was sooooo good!
If you need to catch up on why I'm doing a weekly book review, check it out here!
So, with no more ado, here is my review of The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda.
Everyone in the small coastal town of Littleport, Maine has a secret. Something protagonist, Avery Greer, discovers after her best friend Sadie Loman turns up dead, from an apparent suicide. But, now that a year has gone by, Avery isn't so sure. While still working for the Loman's as their property manager, Avery begins getting calls for break-ins and disturbances at some of their properties. When she goes to check out one of the houses, she discovers Sadie's phone hidden away.
She takes it to the Detective who handled Sadie's case, and he rethinks her suicide.
With the memorial for Sadie nearing, Sadie's brother Parker comes back to town. Avery and Parker have a sordid past, yet he still believes it's a suicide.
Soon, Avery begins rethinking who was at the party, and remembers seeing Conor Harlow. She asks him when he last saw Sadie, and he says he took her on her boat to an island near Littleport.
Avery goes to the island, and finds a hidden jump drive of Sadie's. She takes it home and sees that is the transfer of $100,000 to Avery's grandmother, the woman who raised her after her parent's died in a car crash. She realizes that the money was a payoff for the death of her parents.
Remembering that Parker had a scar on his forehead, Avery pieces together that Parker caused the crash that killed her parents.
Breaking into the house to search for proof, she finds medical records of Parker getting stitches two days after the accident.
She gathers the evidence, ready to take it to the Detective when he shows up at the house, and destroys the evidence.
Avery realizes he was also paid off for lying about her parent's accident, and that Sadie was killed for figuring out the cover-up, and that the Detective was the one that killed her! In the ensuing struggle, Avery flees the house, and runs into Parker who she tells about Sadie's murder. Parker charges at the Detective, knocking him from the same cliff where Sadie's body was found the previous year.
I usually don't like a murder mystery. I find them very predictable, since I've now read a million books (only mildly kidding, it's gotta be pretty close to that number), but I was so surprised with this ending! I totally expected the mom to have been the killer, and was shocked when it was the Detective! I never saw it coming! That immediately makes this a good book to me! I'm never wrong about the surprise endings of books, and was shocked to realize my assumptions were wrong!
I liked Miranda's style. I haven't read anything by her before (since I think she mainly does the murder mysteries), but I really enjoyed this. She had nice style, really sucking you into the mysterious world of Littleport. The setting become almost a character unto itself, which added another layer of mystery to the novel.
While I felt there were a few jumps in logic (a common trope in murder mysteries), there was only one that really had me rereading sections. It was when Avery realizes the money given to her grandmother was a pay-off. And then instantly recognizes it as a pay-off for her parent's death.That would never be a normal person's assumption, yet Avery jumped right to it. That was the only real passage where I struggled to follow the logic.
I liked Avery, for the most part. I think she was a decent protagonist. She had no crazy huge dramatic outbursts, and didn't sob hysterical like most females in this genre. I liked her backstory, but feel Miranda almost tried too hard to make her edgy and deep. It came off as stilted and unbelievable at times. And Avery did seem rather obsessed with Sadie. Not sure if this was intnetional by the author or just my interpretation, but I found that almost as creepy as the fact that there was a murderer on the lose. I did like that Avery wasn't pining after a boy, and that there was no real romantic entanglements; I feel like that would have cheapened the book so I'm glad Miranda left out any real romance from the novel.
All in all, I have to give The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda an enthusiastic 5 out of 5. It's not everyday I can't guess the ending or the "who-dun-it" in a book!