Title: The Last Mrs Parrish
Authors: Liv Constantine
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Thriller
First Publication: 2017
Major Characters: Amber Patterson, Daphne, Jackson
Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.
To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.
Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.
With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.
Book Review: The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine
The Last Mrs Parrish is admittedly light on psychological suspense but is one very sassy thriller which takes some surprising turns as the story progresses and quickly becomes an insidiously addictive read! The simple premise undersells this novel which has a lot more substance than it might appear and is underpinned by a solid plot, ensuring that it is more than simply chic lit with its claws out! In a well constructed story that zips along and touches upon some surprisingly weighty issues the end result is a riotously funny and very honest novel.
Amber Patterson is tired of being a nonentity and determined to rise above the mediocrity of her impoverished background and past mistakes. Manipulative, insincere and lacking in remorse, she has a plan to change all of that and sets her sights on inveigling herself into the life of beautiful Daphne Parrish, the adored wife of desirable and debonair businessman, Jackson. Living the dream in a thirty-room estate in exclusive Bishops Harbor with their two daughters, Daphne has everything that Amber intends to make her very own… and she is willing to play the long-game in a concerted effort to usurp Daphne and claim Jackson’s affection.
“Today she felt especially comforted by the books that climbed the walls. They were a reminder that any knowledge she desired was hers for the asking.”
Told in three parts, the first two of roughly equal length and focusing on the perspective on firstly snakelike Amber and secondly on caring Daphne, the final fifty pages is devoted to Daphne’s belated discovery of Amber’s intentions. However with Amber having some dark secrets of her own in a past that she is eager to leave behind the success of her machinations rests on whether she can get Jackson exactly where she wants him before being exposed as a scheming witch.
Researching her chosen target thoroughly Amber ruthlessly insinuates her way into Daphne’s affections and takes advantage of her caring and trustworthy nature with a mix of outright lies (including a deceased sister stricken with cystic fibrosis) and wide eyed innocent naivety.
Throughout the course of Amber’s third-person narrative there is some blatant foreshadowing of what is to come, making it evident that things might not be all they appear behind the glamorous facade of the golden couple. Whilst the opening lacks subtlety and risks losing less patient readers as Amber unleashes a charm offensive laid on with a trowel some brilliant characterisation and flawless attention to detail in upholding the minutiae of a life of opulence managed to hold my attention well.
Undoubtedly there is a lot more going on between (and under) the covers of this novel than at first appears and sussing this out will tax few readers but watching it play out is a still a hoot! Pantomime villains, sociopaths and schemers abound, yet the third-person narrative of Amber with a snarky inner dialogue will ensure the majority of readers will stick around for an ingeniously satisfying denouement!
“This was the kind of home that was safely hidden from the eyes of those who could not afford to live this way. That’s what wealth does for you, she thought. It gives you the means and the power to remain concealed from the world if you choose – or if you need to.”
As the second half opens with the first person narrative of Daphne charting the course of her marriage from the incipient first meeting as a twenty-six-year-old graduate student with thirty-five-year-old Jackson, the CEO of a company he had built from the ground up with a reputation as something of a playboy. Gradually reaching the present day and becoming aware of Amber’s scheming stunts, the older and wiser Daphne’s years of marriage have taught her how to make the best of a bad situation. More than anything she understands what makes Jackson tick and that nothing gets in the way of him getting exactly what he wants…
Posing questions on guilt, infidelity, jealously, infertility with a shot of coercive control, prepare for some Machiavellian mind games. A tight plot, with some remarkably deft turns is all the more of an achievement as it is the collaborative work of two sisters separated by three states. A polished debut, the novel has some excellent situational comedy and despite the attention to detail necessitating a lengthy book it never outstays it’s welcome. A gold digger on an inexorable crusade to usurp the cherished wife of an illustrious and handsome magnate might sound like a tired plot rehash but executed with aplomb and entirely lacking in remorse The Last Mrs Parrish is escapist fiction at its very best.