Thursday, February 15, 2018

Book Review: The Last Day

By Jami Deise

One of the many joys of reading fiction is the opportunity to question characters’ decisions and life choices. For instance, if your estranged husband asked to move back in with his new girlfriend, who is about half your age, what would you say?

I’m pretty sure the vast majority of women would say “hell, no.” But in English writer Claire Dyer’s third novel, The Last Day, Vita doesn’t feel she has a choice. After all, Boyd is still legally her husband, he owns half of the house she lives in in the exburbs of London, and ostensibly they are still on good terms. So Boyd and Honey move into the spare room in Vita’s two-bed, one bath home. But it’s one thing to be on good terms with an estranged husband who lives across town, and it’s another to be on good terms with the estranged husband who’s across the hall with his new girlfriend. Especially when that new girlfriend is beautiful, trusting, and has a lifetime full of secrets.

The Last Day is told from three points of view – Boyd’s, Honey’s, and Vita’s—although only Vita’s is in first person. As such, Vita is the character readers will identify with the most, and Honey comes across as a bit of an idiot, despite her dark past. With its complicated relationships and domestic setting, it would be easy to mistake this book as women’s fiction. But it’s a psychological thriller. Unfortunately, the three main characters don’t know they’re in one, so they are all much too trusting.

The book has a slow pace, much more fitting for the women’s fiction genre than the thriller, but the voice was strong. Its solid premise reeled me in. But Dyer is a little too on-the-nose with the thriller clues, and readers will want the main characters to catch up. They never do. Along with the too-slow pacing, I also had an issue with the ending. The villain does not cause the climax—in fact, it hinges upon a coincidence—and then the villain fesses up rather than moving in for the kill. The result is a women’s fiction type ending rather than the explosive one that the thriller genre requires.

Still, the characters are intriguing, and the slow pace delivers the simmering build that many readers enjoy. While the ending is a bit of a let-down, the heart of the book is worthwhile.

Thanks to The Dome Press for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Claire Dyer:

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