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Destination thriller set in THAILAND (and London)

17th April 2024

Her Last Summer by Emily Freud, destination thriller set in THAILAND (and London).


Destination thriller set in THAILAND

You know from the book cover that there is going to be a good setting involved in the story. Cassidy (Cass) is a documentary maker who has just completed “Missing” to much acclaim, the original perpetrator cleared of the crime and a new man has been jailed.

She is then contacted by Luke, who, in 2002 was backpacking with his girlfriend, Mari, in Thailand and they both went missing from a guided trail in the jungles around Chiang Mai. That was 20 years ago. He was eventually found in a terrible state but she simply disappeared. Luke was never formally charged with any crime but popular opinion has  him marked as guilty of her death. Cass is over the moon that he should have come to her to tell his side of the story and she starts on the groundwork.

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Partway through filming, her boss asks her to take Luke back to Thailand and follow in his original footsteps, retracing events and emotions. She flies out with a team, and from Bangkok they head to Ko Pha Ngan and up to the North, all the while filming Luke as he ponders and re-engages with the history of his former trip. His story is that Mari was attacked by someone living wild in the jungle and simply disappeared. For Cass, initially, the jury is out and she dithers, unsure whether he is a true victim in all this or whether he has sociopathic traits and is just very good at pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes. Her judgement becomes clouded because she senses a growing attraction towards him, which adds another dimension to the proceedings, and of course if she were to pursue something more with him, it would ruin her career. She is also fighting her own demons because when she was a young child, she was kidnapped and, once returned home, she had to deal with difficult family dynamics. Work, therefore, has become her be all and end all.

The author worked in television and so the notion of telling a story through the medium of film works well. She is very good at maintaining a propulsive and tense narrative to the end, although Cass has to fight her way – predictably – out of nerve-tingling situations, and that can feel a tiny bit hackneyed and frantic.

This novel is good overall and is an engaging read. It has a cloying sense of place in Thailand, especially when the action is set in the dripping and hot jungle . “..The jungle itching with movement from invisible tenants…” Just take yourself back to Alex Garland’s The Beach for that ultimate frisson of Thai adventure, which had only recently been published when the two backpackers went to Thailand in 2002.

If you like this kind of edgy thriller, then The Contest by Karen Hamilton would be another tense #destinationthriller to pick up (set in Tanzania).

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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Catch the author on Twitter @MsEmilyFreud

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