Review: The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine is a mesmerizing debut about a coolly manipulative woman and a wealthy “golden couple” from a stunning new voice in psychological suspense (available October 17, 2017).

Daphne Parrish is everything Amber Patterson isn’t: beautiful and rich with a perfect home and a perfect husband. Amber will do anything to get what Daphne has—to be Daphne—even if she must lie and scheme to do it. After all, it’s what she does best.

Amber weasels her way into Daphne’s life via the death of Daphne’s sister, Julie, as a teen from cystic fibrosis. Amber claims to have a sister who suffered and died of the same disease. Of course, she doesn’t, but it’s the perfect way to get into Daphne’s good graces.

Daphne begins to see a kindred spirit in Amber, someone that understands her loss, someone she can really talk to. Of course, all Amber sees is a meal ticket. She thinks Jackson—with his good looks and endless wealth—should be hers, but it won’t be easy. Daphne eventually invites Amber to help out with her charity, Julie’s Smile, which benefits those with CF. After humiliating one of the other ladies and sending her running, Amber eventually becomes co-chair.

We already know by now that Amber is rotten, but it’s when she’s invited to pose for a picture to garner some advance publicity for an auction that we realize she may be more than just an opportunistic conniver.

“Amber.” Daphne’s voice startled her from her reverie. “I’d like to get a picture for a little advance publicity. Let’s have you and the rest of the auction committee with some of the items. I’m sure the Harbor Times will publish it with a blurb about the fund-raiser.”

Amber couldn’t move. A picture? For the newspaper? She couldn’t let that happen. She had to think quickly. “Um.” She paused a moment. “Gee, Daphne, I’m so new to the group. I don’t think it’s fair for me to be in the photo. It should include members who have worked on this longer than I have.”

“That’s very gracious of you, but you’re the co-chair now,” Daphne said.

“I’d really feel more comfortable if other people’s accomplishments were highlighted.” Looking around, Amber realized she’d scored points for humility. It was a win-win. She could maintain the rank of poor but sweet and unassuming little waif to these privileged snobs. And most important, no ghosts from the past would come sniffing around. She just needed to keep a low profile for now.

Amber and Daphne’s friendship progresses—well, sort of. To Daphne, Amber is a friend. But to Amber, Daphne is just a means to an end. Amber’s ready to take it up a notch. Jackson is the real prize, and when Amber finally meets him, she feels like her world has turned upside down.

He was waiting at the best table in the place. Its view was even more stunning than Amber had imagined. So was he, for that matter. The sex appeal practically oozed out of him. Drop-dead gorgeous. There was no other way to say it. And the impeccably tailored custom suit made him look like he’d just stepped off the set of a Bond movie. He stood as they approached, and when his dazzling blue eyes rested on Daphne, his smile widened, and he greeted her with a warm kiss on the lips. He was crazy about her, Amber realized with frustration. He crouched down, opening his arms, and the girls ran into them.

It’s enough to make Amber sick. So perfect! So in love! So not hers! No worries, because Amber is allll about the long game, and boy is she good at it. Her manipulations are executed with precision-like ruthlessness. When she’s not sabotaging Daphne’s life or trying to seduce Jackson, she spends her quiet time Facebook-stalking what seems to be her ex and wishing horrible things upon him. She refuses to be trifled with or ignored. Amber deserves more, she deserves better, she deserves Jackson, and she’s going to get it—and him—at any cost. In fact, it seems things are working out swimmingly for our favorite little sociopath…

Until…

The first half of the book is not first-person, but it is Amber’s POV. The second half, however, is Daphne’s first-person take on things, and boy is it a doozy. Her story is quite different from Amber’s. In fact, pay close attention in the first half at Amber’s observations of Daphne’s seemingly perfect life, and you’ll get the feeling that all isn’t quite so perfect. But that’s all I’m going to say because if I say anything else, it will ruin what is probably one of the most satisfying thrillers I’ve ever read. So very, very satisfying.

This a shocking, salacious, darkly funny read—and I mean all of that in the very best way. Amber is horrid, but Daphne is no dummy. All that glitters is not gold in this one, and you’ll want to set aside some time because it’s a one-sitting read. Liv Constantine, the pen name for sisters Lynn and Valerie Constantine, has hit it out of the park with their delicious, fun debut. Get your hands on this one fast.

 

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Kristin Centorcelli reviews books at mybookishways.com, loves a good mystery, and is a huge fan of boxed wine. You can also follow her at @mybookishways.

Read all posts by Kristin Centorcelli for Criminal Element.

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