Friday, November 29, 2019

Book Review: The Last Affair

By Jami Deise

While the number of people who cheat on their spouses is up for debate (statistics vary from a high of half of all married people to a low of less than a quarter), what isn’t up for debate is that infidelity is a popular plot in movies, TV, and books. From Anna Karenina to Showtime’s The Affair, the intrigue and angst caused by infidelity is a natural draw for readers and audiences.

And it rarely ends well.

In Margot Hunt’s latest domestic thriller, we know this affair won’t end well: The Last Affair begins with two cops poring over the body of Gwen Landon, who’s had her skull bashed in with a brick paver. Her husband says she hasn’t had a conflict with anyone, but as everyone knows, husbands can be liars.

Especially this husband.

Six months earlier, orthodontist Josh Landon ran into Nora Holliday, the mother of a patient, at a hotel where they were both attending respective conferences. After dinner and drinks, they slept together, sparking an affair. The Last Affair, however, isn’t told from Josh’s point-of-view. Rather, Nora, Gwen, and Gwen and Josh’s college-aged daughter Abby tell the tale in third-person narration.

Abby, who dropped out of school due to a depression that hit after learning her boyfriend was sleeping with her best friend, spies her father and his mistress on the beach together and begins a campaign to learn who Dad is seeing on the side. Of the three POV characters, Abby is most well-written. Her grief and humiliation at her own betrayal is understandable; her bewilderment at her parents’ behavior natural.

None of the four adults come off all that well. Gwen is a narcissist; Nora’s husband Carter an alcoholic in recovery who hasn’t touched his wife in three years. Both Josh and Nora seem too put-upon to be believed. Josh’s seduction of Nora is so smooth that I thought he was a player and would break Nora’s heart. Instead, they are both portrayed as practically perfect people who “deserve” their affair because their spouses are so horrible.

The writing goes down smooth and quick, and pages fly by as the reader wonders how the self-obsessed Gwen – who knows Josh is having an affair but has tagged the wrong woman – ends up with a brick in her head. Unfortunately, the clues are a little too obvious, leaving the reader feeling “I knew it!” rather than “I never would have guessed!”

The Last Affair is the third book of Hunt’s that I’ve reviewed, and it fits well with her other offerings. Although she hasn’t written sequels to her other two domestic thrillers, this book really cries out for one. I hope she considers writing it.

Thanks to HarperCollins for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Margot Hunt:

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