The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

The Last House GuestThe Last House Guest by Megan Miranda
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was slow to get hooked into this book, but in the end, I enjoyed it. The author is good at setting the scene and making the reader feel he is there. In this case, the scene is the coast of Maine in a tiny town appropriately called Littleport. The undisputed ruler of the town, Grant Loman, owns a vast real estate empire. In addition to his own monstrous house he rents out the many surrounding cabins, cottages and other properties to summer vacationers. His two children, Parker and Sadie, rich and beautiful, were raised in private schools in Boston but are now the heirs apparent to the empire. Our protagonist, however, is Sadie’s best friend, Avery, an orphaned teenager at one time, but now employed by the Lomans to manage the Littleport rentals. Despite the loss of her parents in a car accident, the death of her grandmother, and a rebellious period, she has made her way in life and become Sadie’s bestie.

There is an end-of-season party and a death. Was it a suicide? A murder? Avery is both a suspect and a self-appointed, obsessed investigator. The suspense builds slowly as more and more information is revealed to the reader. This is done in a way that is trendy but which I find irritating: a constant barrage of time switches from the current day to an earlier time, usually the day of the party, but sometimes even earlier as Avery relates bits of history she is remembering. Whatever happened to telling a story in chronological order? In any event, the reader is not told important events and facts until near the very end making it impossible to make a logical guess to solve the mystery until then. The denouement is a little too pat and predictable; at least, it’s predictable once you are told all the necessary stuff in the final chapters. The storytelling maintains a slightly creepy noirish feel throughout while conveying the isolation and grandeur of the Maine coast (which I can imagine but have never seen). Enjoy it more for the atmosphere and the characters than the plot.

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