As The Last September opens, readers are introduced to Brett, who has stumbled upon the unthinkable. Her husband Charlie has been murdered in their seaside Cape Cod home, with his mentally ill brother Eli present at the scene. Eli disappears, and Brett and the readers are left to wonder: did Eli murder his brother? And what led him to it?
Author Nina de Gramont begins Brett’s story in the middle, and takes readers back and forth through time. Brett and Eli were best friends in college, but on the night she met his free-spirited brother Charlie, their relationship changed forever. Months later, Brett watched in horror as Eli experienced a mental breakdown.
At the time of her husband’s murder, Brett and Charlie have a young daughter. Charlie is unemployed and their marriage is under great strain. Charlie is always rescuing Eli, and a recent business venture has failed miserably. As Brett’s story continues, I found myself beginning to wonder if Brett was a reliable narrator. Did she have reason to kill her husband? Who is really responsible for Charlie’s death?
This story is a thought-provoking puzzle from start to finish. Dealing with murder, mental illness and the difficulty of relationships, it’s a complex novel you won’t soon forget. Eli’s plunge into mental illness is heartbreaking, and has devastating effects on those he loves, even years after his first breakdown. The author also leads readers through events of the past that leave Brett and Charlie’s relationship nearly in ruins, and Brett wondering if it can be repaired. After she realizes her husband is dead, she works to figure out who did it, and in the end, is shocked by what she finds.
Often, I am able to predict the ending of novels like this, but this one surprised me. If you enjoy a good mystery, you’re sure to love this novel.
Meg lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Ryan. Library professional by day, freelance writer by night, Meg writes about life, entertainment and everything in between.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Algonquin Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.