Monday 7 August 2017

Book Review: Last Seen by Lucy Clarke.

Product details:
Publisher: HarperCollins.
Paperback, 320 pages.
Release date: July 30th 2017.
Rating:  4 out of 5.
Ages: Adult
Source: Received from publisher for review.

Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.

Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.
Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried.

Best friends since their teens, Sarah and Isla share secrets, summers and sons of the same age, or at least they did until Isla’s son Marley went missing at sea seven years ago.  Through the tragedy, Sarah and Isla’s friendship remained intact and, after a time, life went back to something close to normal.  But things are about to change.  This year, on the anniversary of Marley’s disappearance, Sarah’s son Jacob vanishes without a trace. Being a mother means everything to Sarah, but lately her relationship with her son hasn’t been so great. Is Jacob just another runaway teen on the outs with his mum? Or is there something more sinister at play? And why isn’t Sarah telling the truth of the argument she and Jacob had the night before he disappeared? 

Lucy Clarke writes a great beach read, and while this one doesn’t contain the exotic locales of her earlier books, it may just be my favourite book of hers to date, with twist after twist to keep me guessing, even after I thought I had things all figured out.  Female friendships are complex things, and let me tell you, Sarah and Isla share a friendship that is more complex than most. No spoilers, but let’s just say I don’t really know how these two managed to stay such firm friends through the years, after all that happened between them.  Some things just can’t be forgiven, you know? And one of these friends certainly crosses that line at one point.

The central mystery of Jacob’s disappearance is ultimately compelling, if a bit of a slow burn that takes time to gather pace, with chapters detailing past summers, including the events that led to the day when everything changed.  My favourite aspect of Last Seen was the friendship between Sarah and Isla.  You know how sometimes you meet people and they are so opposite, so different in every way, that you wonder how they ever became friends? Well, that’s these two. I find that this kind of friendship is one most often formed in childhood or adolescence, which is the case here. Friends found later in life usually have a lot more in common than free-spirited Isla who travels the world on a whim and uptight Sarah, who would rather be at home doing the hoovering.  When we meet them, Sarah and Isla’s friendship is a relic of the past, held together only by the memories they share. Oh, and then there’s that little thing called guilt. And all the secrets that are about to come spilling out right about now.  

Another winner from Lucy Clarke, Last Seen is a compelling tale of friendship, secrets, motherhood and lies that will keep you guessing right till the very end. This is one to add to your beach bag, for sure!

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