Full of twists and turns and delightfully grotesque characters
The Last Mrs Parrish – Liv Constantine
Released: 17th October, 2017
Psychological Thriller Fans rating - 92% ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre: Psychological thriller
Premise: Amber Patterson, tired of being a nobody, plots to steal the entitled and luxurious life of Daphne Parrish, one of the rich women she covets, by seducing her husband.
The good: Deliciously rich characters with a clever mid-point twist
The bad: Why has it taken me four years to find this book?
The ugly: A slow beginning which leaves you questioning whether you are reading a thriller at all
In summary: A fantastic psychological thriller with devilishly grotesque fully-formed characters and an unsettling plot that will leave your head spinning
I was surprised when writing this review to find that The Last Mrs Parrish was published four years ago and yet it had only recently to my attention, recommended on a few Facebook groups.
Boy, had I been missing out.
What a fantastic read, full of twists and turns and delightfully grotesque characters.
At first, you have no idea where the book is heading, and almost appears to defy thriller conventions.
But then – bang! – right at the halfway point (the midpoint shift) everything is turned on its head, the veil is pulled from our eyes and the reality of what you’ve been reading is revealed in it its full, horrific glory.
It then becomes a full-paced canter to reach the end and find out how everything is going to be resolved, who is going to get their just desserts and who is going to live happily ever after.
The story begins with Amber Patterson, disillusioned with her lot and watching with envy the rich women with their perfect lives in Bishops Harbor, Connecticut.
She concocts a devilish plan to steal one of the women’s husbands – and in so doing, her entitled life.
The victim she chooses is Daphne Parrish, who she cleverly befriends by claiming to have lost a sister to cystic fibrosis – just like Daphne.
And once the two women become close, it’s easy for her to sink her claws into Daphne’s husband, Jackson.
That’s the story that consumes the first half of the book and is driven by the will she / won’t she question of whether Amber’s plan will succeed.
It is a slow burn – carried by the richness of the characters and Constantine’s writing style – because it’s not clear what you’re reading at his point. Thriller? Domestic noir? Women’s fiction?
It doesn’t feel like a traditional thriller because there are no life and death stakes.
If Amber is the protagonist of the story, at best she’s an anti-hero and that feels odd as you’re not sure who you are supposed to be rooting for.
Thankfully that all changes in the second half of the book where secrets, truths and lies are all laid bare – as are hero, victim and villain.
It’s a breath-taking end and perfectly paced. One of those books you simply don’t want to put down and find yourself snatching any spare moment to read a few more pages.
Brilliantly done and an interesting innovation on the usual thriller structure.
Highly recommended, but be warned, once those characters get their talons into you, you may not be able to put it down!
It’s an easy five stars from me – and a Psychological Thriller Fans rating of 92%.
How far would you go to make all your dreams come true?
Amber Patterson is tired of being a nobody: an invisible woman who melts into the background. She deserves more. She deserves a life of wealth, luxury and leisure.
Daphne Parrish is the golden girl of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut. With her model looks, her picture-perfect mansion and her millionaire husband, Jackson, she has everything Amber wants.
Amber’s envy could eat her alive—if she didn't have a plan. Before long, she has become Daphne’s closest friend, and is catching the eye of Jackson. But a skeleton from her past could destroy everything, and if discovered, Amber’s well-laid plan may end in disaster…
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AJ Wills is the bestselling author of multiple psychological thrillers. He was a journalist for more than twenty years and has been writing full-time since March 2021. He's married to fellow thriller writer, AJ McDine.