A Page-Turner of a Book: The Last Flight by Julie Clark
The Last Flight by Julie Clark
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Published June 2020, 302 pages
My sister Donna and I picked this book for one of our July Buddy Reads. We usually do two a month but the other one we picked has a pretty long wait at the library, so it may get bumped to next month. We're flexible.
THE EXCITING PLOT OUTLINE
Claire is a NYC socialite, married to a very wealthy man preparing to make a run for the Senate. She knows the right people, wears the right clothes, says the right things. But behind closed doors her husband is physically abusive.
Eva is a Berkley college drop out who lives a quiet life alone, has few friends, stays in her very careful routine. Behind closed doors she manufactures and sells drugs to college students. In alternating chapters we learn her backstory, told in past tense, and Claire's story is in the present tense and moves forward in time. It's handled brilliantly.
The story of how these two women found themselves in the position they're in is told with absorbing care. Details are doled out in such a believable way that I felt empathetic to both of their situations. They each have reached a point where they MUST leave their lives but it's SO dangerous. Separately they've made elaborate plans on how to escape.
The Suspense Builds
However, circumstances occur that collapse the plans, each of them desperate and yet feeling out of options. So they start talking - you know how you can talk to strangers when traveling, right? As a desperate measure they decide to trade tickets and lives - neither of them being truthful about what they're running from. It's not a perfect solution but will give each of them time to develop a new plan. Eva takes Claire's ticket to Puerto Rico and Claire takes the ticket to Oakland.
And then the suspense kicks into overdrive as the chapters alternate between the women and their fears of being caught as well as filling in backstories. When Claire arrives in Oakland she hears on the news that the flight to Puerto Rico, the one she was supposed to be on, crashed; everyone is dead. What happens next is ......wait, no spoilers. That's enough to give you the bones of the story.
We enthusiastically agreed this a great thriller read. It's quick and keeps you in the grip of the story every single page. The characters of Claire and Eva are so authentic that I didn't doubt their decisions for a moment (well maybe taking a stranger's ticket to another city is something I'd never do, but, you know what I mean). Both women illustrate how women can find their lives controlled by men and how difficult it can be to escape.
The writing is straightforward and propulsive, moving through the story without a lot of extraneous events or information. Each woman's feelings and fears are clear but not overwrought. There are a couple unexpected events, minor twists that keep things interesting. And, the ending is very satisfying - all the loose ends tied up logically.
This is not a violent thriller - there's the feeling of it behind the scenes, but the abuse is off screen and the drug dealing is handled somewhat obliquely....it's no Denzel movie threats. So if you're looking for a fast paced, believable, non-violent thriller to get you through a weekend, this is it!