The Last House Guest is a prime example of the female-centered mystery narrative – unexplained tragedy, intense female friendships, and jumping around in time.
A year ago, Sadie Loman was found dead having fallen or jumped off of a cliff by her family’s summer house in Littleport, Maine. She was supposed to attend a party where her best friend, Avery Greer, was waiting for her. A year later, and Avery has not come to terms with the loss. It must be difficult since she works for the Loman family managing their seasonal properties in Littleport. Avery is a local, and her friendship with Sadie and the Loman’s breaks with traditions of townies and tourists leaving Avery stranded on the middle of two vastly different worlds. Avery also appreciates the Loman family because her own family members have all passed – her parents in a car accident, and her grandmother of old age. After a series of break-ins and disturbances at several of the Lomans’ properties, clues about Sadie’s life, death, and state of mind come to the forefront, calling into question the cops’ certainty that Sadie died by suicide.
This book was a very easy read, perfect for a lazy weekend (or a beach if you have one nearby). I find the description of Sadie’s and Avery’s friendship particularly interesting. It’s all-encompassing, life-giving, and destructive. Avery looks back on the friendship fondly after Sadie’s death, but the more she thinks about it and the more she remembers, she begins to see some of the toxic aspects of their relationship. She also see’s Sadie’s manipulative behaviors and her love of knowing others’ secrets. It turns out the Greer and Loman families are bonded by more than the girls’ friendship, and those bonds may play a role in what happened to Sadie.