Last Seen Alive
By Claire Douglas
Jamie and Libby have had a hard time of late so when the opportunity comes to get away they decide to take it.
'The Hideaway' is an idyllic home on the beach front in Cornwall and Libby thinks they may finally have a chance to relax and get rid of all the stress.
All is not as it seems though and before long Libby senses something is not right. She has an uncanny feeling she is being watched. Jamie thinks she is being paranoid but Libby thinks her past is finally catching up with her.
This is the second book I have read by Claire Douglas; the first book was Local Girl Missing. I found Local Girl Missing captivating and full of twists. Last Seen Alive only cemented my view that Claire Douglas is a brilliant writer.
The prologue is straight to the point and begins with a woman murdering her husband.
“He had such pretty eyes: they were his best feature, the colour of the ocean. Now they are as glassy, and lifeless as a china dolls, staring up at the darkening sky, empty, unseeing…was I seen killing my husband?”
The first chapter in the book begins with James, Libby and their dog Ziggy travelling to Cornwall to the Roseland Peninsula. They are going on a much-needed holiday.
As we follow their journey there are clues that all is not well within their relationship. Libby acknowledges to herself how much they both need this break because “or first nine months of married life haven’t been easy.”
They have been arguing over money, his family, the involvement of his ex-girlfriend Hannah in his life and Jamie constantly mentioning that he thinks she should go to therapy.
Libby and Jamie spend most of the time away tiptoeing around these sensitive issues trying not to erupt into an argument or cause each other any more pain.
“He’s a pinthalffull kind of man, but being made redundant, setting up on his own and constantly worrying about money has taken its toll, and I’ve noticed, over the last few months, that some of his brightness has started to fade like a tarnished coin.”
When they arrive at the house they will be staying in for the duration of their trip, ‘The Hideaway’. Jamie is full of awe at it’s size but all Libby can think about is the remote location and how isolated they are. There isn’t another house around for miles.
Their holiday was unexpected and came about because of a leaflet dropped through their door. The leaflet explained that the houses owners Tara and Philip Heywood needed to swap their house in Cornwall for a week with someone in the area as their daughter was being admitted to a nearby hospital with a serious condition. They were offering up their own house on the beach in return.
Libby expected to have to work hard to convince Jamie that they needed a holiday but he was more than happy to go away.
Libby had recently been hailed a hero following a fire at the school where she works. She had lead the children to safety but at great personal cost. She fell and broke her arm on the way out and then when she was having an x-ray on it she suffered a miscarriage.
Initially both Jamie and Libby feel calm and relaxed in the house but as time goes on Libby becomes increasingly unnerved over strange happenings in the house. Jamie thinks she is suffering from PTSD but Libby can’t shake the feeling that someone is watching them and that the fire at the school was started deliberately.
The only problem is she can’t tell Jamie why she has such dark suspicions as doing so would involve telling Jamie secrets she has kept to herself for years.
“I’ve never really told him about what happened. To me. To Karen. He knows my friend died. He knows I was lucky to escape. It makes me worry sometimes the things I haven’t told him. Because we shouldn’t keep secrets from each other.”
Last Seen Alive is one of those books that makes you dizzy with all the twists and turns within it. Claire Douglas’ writing is masterful and on more than one occasion during the read I felt sick with anticipation.
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