Cover image for The Last House Guest
Title:
The Last House Guest
Author:
Miranda, Megan
Subject:
Fiction
Literature
Suspense
Thriller
Description:
REESE'S BOOK CLUB x HELLO SUNSHINE AUGUST 2019 PICK! THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER "Once again, Megan Miranda has crafted the perfect summer thriller. The Last House Guest is twisty and tense, with a pace that made my heart race. An edge-of-your-seat, up-all-night read." —Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Time I Lied "Dizzying plot twists and multiple surprise endings are this author's stock in trade, but she warms them up by establishing the close friendship between Sadie Loman...and Avery Greer...And, oh boy, does she ever know how to write a twisty-turny ending (or two, or more)." —Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review "No one can be trusted in the latest chilling thriller from master of suspense, Megan Miranda. The Last House Guest is a lightning-fast mystery, full of menace and unexpected twists and turns that will have readers on the edge of their seats. A riveting read!" —Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl Littleport, Maine, has always felt like two separate towns: an ideal vacation enclave for the wealthy, whose summer homes line the coastline; and a simple harbor community for the year-round residents whose livelihoods rely on service to the visitors. Typically, fierce friendships never develop between a local and a summer girl—but that's just what happens with visitor Sadie Loman and Littleport resident Avery Greer. Each summer for almost a decade, the girls are inseparable—until Sadie is found dead. While the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can't help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie's brother, Parker, who blame her. Someone knows more than they're saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name, before the facts get twisted against her. Another thrilling novel from the bestselling author of All the Missing Girls and The Perfect Stranger, Megan Miranda's The Last House Guest is a smart, twisty read with a strong female protagonist determined to make her own way in the world.
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Date:
2019/06/18
Digital Format:
Adobe EPUB

HTML

Kindle
Language:
English

Summary

Summary

REESE'S BOOK CLUB x HELLO SUNSHINE AUGUST 2019 PICK!

THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"Once again, Megan Miranda has crafted the perfect summer thriller. The Last House Guest is twisty and tense, with a pace that made my heart race. An edge-of-your-seat, up-all-night read." --Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Time I Lied

"Dizzying plot twists and multiple surprise endings are this author's stock in trade, but she warms them up by establishing the close friendship between Sadie Loman...and Avery Greer...And, oh boy, does she ever know how to write a twisty-turny ending (or two, or more)." --Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

"No one can be trusted in the latest chilling thriller from master of suspense, Megan Miranda. The Last House Guest is a lightning-fast mystery, full of menace and unexpected twists and turns that will have readers on the edge of their seats. A riveting read!" --Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl

Littleport, Maine, has always felt like two separate towns: an ideal vacation enclave for the wealthy, whose summer homes line the coastline; and a simple harbor community for the year-round residents whose livelihoods rely on service to the visitors.

Typically, fierce friendships never develop between a local and a summer girl--but that's just what happens with visitor Sadie Loman and Littleport resident Avery Greer. Each summer for almost a decade, the girls are inseparable--until Sadie is found dead. While the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can't help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie's brother, Parker, who blame her. Someone knows more than they're saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name, before the facts get twisted against her.

Another thrilling novel from the bestselling author of All the Missing Girls and The Perfect Stranger , Megan Miranda's The Last House Guest is a smart, twisty read with a strong female protagonist determined to make her own way in the world.


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

This searing small-town thriller from bestseller Miranda (The Perfect Stranger) explores the complexities of female friendship and the picturesque fictions that money can buy. Avery Greer, a native of Littleport, Maine, is at a house party with the town's other 20-somethings awaiting her best friend, wealthy summer resident Sadie Loman, when the police arrive: Sadie's body washed up on the rocks near her parents' estate, and they want alibis from those in attendance. The discovery of a suicide note ends all talk of foul play, but Avery can't fathom Sadie taking her own life. A year later, Avery uncovers new evidence that underscores her suspicions and inspires her to investigate. The deeper Avery digs, the more secrets she unearths that are worth killing to keep. Flashbacks to the night of Sadie's death reveal fissures in the girls' relationship, casting doubt on Avery's honesty as a narrator. Sharply drawn characters both ground and elevate the bombshell-laden plot, while evocative prose heightens tension and conjures place. Miranda delivers a clever, stylish mystery that will seize readers like a riptide. Agent: Sarah Davies, Greenhouse Literary. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

A year after her best friend's supposed suicide, a young woman must clear her name when new evidence is uncovered.The Lomans own much of Littleport, Maine, a fact that hasn't changed much since their only daughter's death a year ago. In the summer of 2017, on the night of the annual Plus-One party, aimed at summer people who've stayed a week longer than the traditional Labor Day end-of-season, golden girl Sadie Loman apparently threw herself off a cliff into the churning sea, but to those who knew her, especially her closest friend, Avery Greer, she seemed to have everything to live for. Year-round Littleport resident Avery was adrift after her parents' deaths when she was a teen, but when she met the mesmerizing Sadie, a summer person, her life took on new meaning. Sadie and Avery became so close, it was sometimes hard to tell where one ended and the other began. After Avery's grandmother died, Avery was alone, and the ridiculously wealthy Lomans seemed to welcome her into the family, even giving her a job as property manager for their coastal rentals and a place to live in their guesthouse. But everything fell apart after Sadie died. When Avery finds Sadie's phone hidden in the rental cottage where last year's Plus-One party was held, she turns it in to the policeafter doing a bit of snooping. Additionally, someone's been breaking into the rentals, and Sadie's brooding older brother, Parker, is acting strangely. Sadie's death is looking less and less like a suicide, and Avery is at the top of the suspect list. The Loman family's lies are rising to the surface, but can Avery keep her head above water? The narrative, which flips between 2017 and 2018, grows increasingly tense as Avery, who is a surprisingly reliable narrator, gets closer to the truth, but while Miranda (The Perfect Stranger, 2017, etc.) builds some creepy atmosphere in the lead-up, the final revelations are more sad than shocking. Most compelling are the class tensions between Littleport's year-round residents and the seasonal, moneyed tourists as well as the elusive nature of memory and the intricacies of friendship.An evocative and perfectly readable thriller, but genre fans will find few surprises within. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Every summer, the small, secluded coastal town of Littleport, Maine, welcomes the vacationers, who spend enough money to give the year-round residents their life's blood. Avery Greer calls Littleport home, but her best friend, Sadie Loman, is part of the summer elite. Her family even gave Avery a job managing their Littleport properties. Sadie's sudden death during an end-of-season party is labeled a suicide, but a year later, Avery is convinced there's more to it. Poking her nose into the Lomans' business exposes the sharp differences between the people of the town and those who make it theirs for the summer, putting her in danger. The vivid description of this isolated town sets the stage for the revelation of Littleport's secrets. The structure isn't as smooth as it could be as it moves among the summer of Sadie's death, the present, and moments in between, but Miranda's (The Perfect Stranger, 2017) exploration of how Avery's and Sadie's lives intertwine gives the story its depth. Fans of Michele Campbell and Mary Kubica, who like family drama supporting their suspense, will enjoy.HIGH DEMAND BACKSTORY: Bestselling author Miranda is among the vanguard of female-focused suspense authors; patrons will fondly remember who introduced her to them (you).--Tracy Babiasz Copyright 2019 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

BE STILL, my heart. After nine long years in the wilderness, Jackson Brodie is back on the job in BIG SKY (Little, Brown, $28). Kate Atkinson's no-nonsense private detective will do whatever it takes, lawful or otherwise, to bring his idiosyncratic brand of justice to wounded crime victims. Two sisters from Poland are Brodie's kind of people. Lured from their home in Gdansk with offers of work in London, Nadja and Katya are about to be forced into the sex trade by heartless con men hiding behind the imposing but bogus facade of Anderson Price Associates, a nonexistent employment service. Hold onto that plot thread because Atkinson makes child's play of spinning multiple story lines; it will eventually tie into several more. Before Brodie can do battle with the sleazy Anderson Price outfit, he has to convince Penny Trotter that he's turned up sufficient evidence her husband is cheating on her. The detective wonders whether his client takes masochistic pleasure in the humiliation. "Or did she have an endgame that she wasn't sharing?" Excellent question; hold onto that one too, and let's move deeper into the thickets of this wondrously complicated plot. What's a mystery without a murder? Atkinson introduces that tantalizing element when Vince Ives's virago of a wife, Wendy, is beaten to death with a golf club. That brings Vince and all his golfing friends and their spouses into the story, every last one of them examined in depth with equal parts wit and compassion. When suicidal thoughts bring Vince to the edge of a cliff, he explains himself succinctly to Brodie, his rescuer: "I've lived a very little life." And when Brodie seems a bit full of himself, he's smartly reminded that "there's nothing heroic about a lone wolf. ... A lone wolf is just lonely." Atkinson is writing about major crimes and strong themes here, but it's the voices of her characters that make you clutch your heart: people like Crystal, an abused woman who prefers "quiet men with low opinions of themselves," and Bunny, a drag queen dreaming of a triumphant stage appearance. As for Barclay Jack, a variety show comic, he's singing the song of a sad but beautiful death. THERE'S actually a term in Japanese - "honkaku," meaning "authentic" or "orthodox" - for diabolical puzzle mysteries. Soji Shimada's murder in the CROOKED HOUSE (Pushkin, paper, $14.95), meticulously, if a bit stiffly, translated by Louise Heal Kawai, is one of those lockedroom head-bangers that invite - "taunt" is more like it - the reader to decipher the clues and solve a murder along with an all-seeing detective. (Reader, I tried, I really tried; but I don't use the term "head-banger" lightly.) The novel is set in a grand, if bizarrely constructed, mansion at Christmas as a blizzard rages outside. We're at the home of Kozaburo Hamamoto, a captain of industry with a macabre sense of humor. Watching his guests flail about the sloping floors of his tilted house provides constant entertainment for the lord of the manor, who collects precious dolls like the life-size puppet found in pieces outside in the snow. Who would destroy such a pretty thing, the guests wonder - just as they later wonder who would destroy one of their number. TRUST THE VICTORIANS to come up with ingenious ways to kill. In Laura Purcell's uncanny Gothic mystery, the poison thread (Penguin, paper, $16), a 13-year-old seamstress named Ruth Butterham is put on trial for plying her sewing skills to murder her mistress. Impossible, you say? How else to explain why a bride wearing a pair of Ruth's embroidered gloves weeps in despair throughout the wedding service? Or why an infant suffering from "the strangling angel," as diphtheria was then known, dies peacefully while wearing a cap fashioned by Ruth? Considering the poor girl's wretched life - she's made to sleep in the cellar and do her sewing in the attic; she's tossed down the coal chute - it seems only fair that she should have the power to channel her rage into her creations. ("My labor, my stitches, my blood.") Call it magical thinking, but it's satisfying to believe that exploited children like Ruth have found the weapons they need to survive. if you want to sample the black humor of summer resort relationships, have breakfast at the local diner of a pretty coastal town like Littleport, Me., the setting for Megan Miranda's the last house GUEST (Simon & Schuster, $26.99). Dizzying plot twists and multiple surprise endings are this author's stock in trade, but she warms them up by establishing the close friendship between Sadie Loman, of the real-estate-owning Lomans, and Avery Greer, a rebellious townie. These teenagers are inseparable - until Sadie is found dead on the beach on the night of an end-of-season party. Her death is thought to be suicide, but Avery is having none of it, and she'll turn Littleport upside down to prove it was murder. There's not enough vicious, two-faced coffee-shop camaraderie for my savage taste, but Miranda treats the girls' lopsided friendship with warmth and sensitivity, while leaving the door open on how genuine it actually was. And, oh boy, does she ever know how to write a twisty-turny ending (or two, or more). MARILYN STASIO has covered crime fiction for the Book Review since 1988. Her column appears twice a month.


Excerpts

Excerpts

The Last House Guest CHAPTER 1 There was a storm offshore at dusk. I could see it coming in the shelf of darker clouds looming near the horizon. Feel it in the wind blowing in from the north, colder than the evening air. I hadn't heard anything in the forecast, but that meant nothing for a summer night in Littleport. I stepped back from the bluffs, imagined Sadie standing here instead, as I often did. Her blue dress trailing behind her in the wind, her blond hair blowing across her face, her eyes drifting shut. Her toes curled on the edge, a slow shift in weight. The moment--the fulcrum on which her life balanced. I often imagined the last thing she was writing to me, standing on the edge: There are things even you don't know. I can't do this anymore. Remember me. But in the end, the silence was perfectly, tragically Sadie Loman, leaving everyone wanting more. THE LOMANS' SPRAWLING ESTATE had once felt like home, warm and comforting--the stone base, the blue-gray clapboard siding, doors and glass panes trimmed in white, and every window lit up on summer nights, like the house was alive. Reduced now to a dark and hollow shell. In the winter, it had been easier to pretend: handling the maintenance of the properties around town, coordinating the future bookings, overseeing the new construction. I was accustomed to the stillness of the off-season, the lingering quiet. But the summer bustle, the visitors, the way I was always on call, smile in place, voice accommodating--the house was a stark contrast. An absence you could feel; ghosts in the corner of your vision. Now each evening I'd walk by on my way to the guest cottage and catch sight of something that made me look twice--a blur of movement. Thinking for an awful, beautiful moment: Sadie. But the only thing I ever saw in the darkened windows was my distorted reflection watching back. My own personal haunting. IN THE DAYS AFTER Sadie's death, I remained on the outskirts, coming only when summoned, speaking only when called upon. Everything mattered, and nothing did. I gave my stilted statement about that night to the two men who knocked on my door the next morning. The detective in charge was the same man who'd found me on the cliffs the night before. His name was Detective Collins, and every pointed question came from him. He wanted to know when I'd last seen Sadie (here in the guesthouse, around noon), whether she'd told me her plans for that night (she hadn't), how she'd been acting that day (like Sadie). But my answers lagged unnaturally behind, as if some connection had been severed. I could hear myself from a remove as the interview was happening. You, Luciana, and Parker each arrived at the party separately. How did that go again? I was there first. Luciana arrived next. Parker arrived last. Here, a pause. And Connor Harlow? We heard he was at the party. A nod. A gap. Connor was there, too. I told them about the message, showed them my phone, promised she'd been writing to me when all of us were already at the party together. How many drinks had you had by then? Detective Collins had asked. And I'd said two, meaning three. He tore a sheet of lined paper off his notepad, wrote out a list of our names, asked me to fill in the arrival times as well as I could. I estimated Luce's arrival based on the time I'd called Sadie and Parker's on the time I'd sent the text, asking where she was. Avery Greer--6:40 p.m. Luciana Suarez--8 p.m. Parker Loman--8:30 p.m. Connor Harlow--? I hadn't seen Connor come in, and I'd frowned at the page. Connor got there before Parker. I'm not sure when, I'd said. Detective Collins had twisted the paper back his way, eyes skimming the list. That's a big gap between you and the next person. I told him I was setting up. Told him the first-timers always came early. The investigation that followed was tight and to the point, which the Lomans must've appreciated, all things considered. The house had remained dark, since Grant and Bianca were called back in the middle of the night with word of Sadie's death. When the cleaning company and the pool van showed up before Memorial Day--dusting out the cobwebs, shining the counters, opening up the pool--I'd watched from behind the curtains of the guesthouse, thinking maybe the Lomans would be back. They were not ones to linger in sentimentality or uncertainty. They were the type who favored commitment and facts, regardless of which way they bent. So, the facts, then: There were no signs of foul play. No drugs or alcohol in her system. No inconsistencies in the interviews. It seemed no one had motive to hurt Sadie Loman, nor opportunity. Anyone who had a relationship with her was accounted for at the Plus-One party. It was hard to simultaneously grieve and reconstruct your own alibi. It was tempting to accuse someone else just to give yourself some space. It would have been so easy. But none of us had done it, and I thought that was a testament to Sadie herself. That none of us could imagine wanting her dead. The official cause of death was drowning, but there would have been no surviving the fall--the rocks and the current, the force and the cold. She could've slipped, I told the detectives. This, I had wanted so badly to believe. That there wasn't something I had missed. Some sign that I could trace back, some moment when I could've intervened. But it was the shoes at first that made them think otherwise. A deliberate move. The gold sandals left behind. Like she'd stopped to unstrap them on her way to the edge. A moment of pause before she continued on. I fought it even as her family accepted it. Sadie was my anchor, my coconspirator, the force that had grounded my life for so many years. If I imagined her jumping, then everything tilted precariously, just as it had that night. But later that evening, after the interviews, they found the note inside the kitchen garbage can. Possibly swept up in the mess of an emptied pantry, everything laid out on the counters--the result of Luce trying to clean, to bring some order, before Grant and Bianca arrived in the middle of the night. But knowing Sadie, more likely a draft that she had decided against; a commitment to the fact that no words would do. I hadn't seen the warnings. The cause and effect that had brought Sadie to this moment. But I knew how fast a spiral could grab you, how far the surface could seem from below. I knew exactly what Littleport could do. I WAS ALONE UP here now. Still living and working out of the guesthouse. The inside of the one-bedroom apartment was decorated like a dollhouse version of the main residence, with the same wainscoting and dark wood floors. But the walls were tighter, the ceilings lower, the windows thin enough that you could hear the wind rattle the edges at night. The ocean view was partially obstructed through the trees. I sat at the desk in the living room, finishing up the last of the paperwork before bed. There had been damage at one of the rentals earlier in the week--a broken flat-screen television, the surface fractured, the whole thing hanging crookedly from the wall; and one shattered ceramic vase below the television. The renters swore it hadn't been them, claiming an intruder while they were out, though nothing was taken, and there was no sign of forced entry. I'd driven straight over after they called in a panic. Surveyed the scene as they pointed out the damage with trembling hands. A narrow weatherworn house we called Trail's End located on the fringes of downtown, its faded siding and overgrown path to the coastline only adding to its charm. Now the renters pointed to the unlit path and the distance from the neighbors as a lapse in security, the potential for danger. They promised they had locked up before leaving for the day. They were sure, implying that the fault lay on my end somehow. The way they kept mentioning this fact--We locked the doors, we always do--was enough to keep me from believing them. Or wonder whether they were trying to cover up for something more sinister: an argument, someone throwing the vase, end over end, until it connected with the television. Well, damage done, either way. It wasn't enough for the company to pursue, especially from a family who'd been coming for the entire month of August the last three years, despite what might be happening within those walls. I stretched out on the couch, reaching for the remote before heading to my bedroom. I'd gotten into the habit of falling asleep with the television on. The low hum of voices in the next room, beneath the sound of the gently rattling window frame. I've known enough of loss to accept that grief may lose its sharpness with time, but memory only tightens. Moments replay. In the silence, all I could hear was Sadie's voice, calling my name as she walked inside. The last time I saw her. Sometimes, in my memory, she lingers there, in the entrance of my room, like she's waiting for me to notice something. I WOKE TO SILENCE. It was still dark, but the noise from the television was gone. Nothing but the window rattling as a strong gust blew in from somewhere offshore. I flipped the switch on the bedside table lamp, but nothing happened. The electricity was out again. It'd been happening more often, always at night, always when I'd have to find a flashlight to reset the fuse in the box beside the garage. It was a concession for living in a town like this. Exclusive, yes. But too far from the city and too susceptible to the surroundings. The infrastructure out on the coast hadn't caught up to the demand, money or not. Most places had backup generators for the winter, just in case; a good storm could knock us off the grid for a week or more. Summer blackouts were the other extreme--too many people, the population tripled in size. Everything stretched too thin. Grid overload. But as far as I could tell, this was localized--just me. Something an electrician should take a look at, probably. The sound of the wind outside almost made me decide to wait it out until morning, except the charge on my cell was in the red, and I didn't like the idea of being up here alone, with no power and no phone. The night was colder than I'd expected as I raced down the path toward the garage, flashlight in hand. The metal door to the fuse box was cold to the touch and slightly ajar. There was a keyhole at the base, but I'd wedged it open myself earlier this month, the first time this happened. I flipped the master switch and slammed the metal door closed again, making sure it latched this time. Another gust of wind blew as I turned back, and the sound of a door slamming shut cut through the night, made me freeze. The noise had come from the main residence, on the other side of the garage. I cycled through the possibilities: a pool chair caught in the wind, a piece of debris colliding with the side of the house. Or something I forgot to secure myself--the back doors left unlatched, maybe. The lockbox for the spare key was hidden just under the stone overhang of the porch, and my fingers fumbled the code in the dark twice before the lid popped open. Another gust of wind, another noise, closer this time--the hinges of a gate echoing through the night as I jogged up the steps of the front porch. I knew something was wrong as soon as I slid the key into the lock--it was already unlocked. The door creaked open, and my hand brushed the wall just inside, connecting with the foyer switch, illuminating the empty space from the chandelier above. It was then that I saw it. Through the foyer, down the hall at the back of the house. The shadow of a man standing before the glass patio doors, silhouetted in the moonlight. "Oh," I said, taking a step back just as he took a step closer. I would know the shape of him anywhere. Parker Loman. Excerpted from The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.