41 pages 1 hour read

Megan Miranda

The Last House Guest

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2019

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Summary and Study Guide

Overview

Megan Miranda’s best-selling novel The Last House Guest (2019) is a murder mystery that navigates unlikely friendships and the nuances of grief. As protagonist Avery Greer works to uncover the truth behind her best friend’s death, the narrative examines the tension between appearance and reality, the nature of justice, and the divisions between classes in a small seaside town in Maine.

This study guide references the first edition Simon & Schuster trade paperback published in April 2020. Note that the content includes discussion of suicide and suicidal thoughts.

Plot Summary

The novel is divided into 30 chapters set in summer 2018, a prologue and series of interludes set in summer 2017, and an epilogue that flashes forward to summer 2019. The entire story is narrated from the perspective of Avery Greer, whose story begins the day of the Plus-One Party in 2017. Avery manages rental properties for the wealthy Loman family in her hometown of Littleport, Maine; the Plus-One Party is being held at one of these properties. Her best friend, Sadie Loman, is running late for the party. Though Avery tries to text Sadie, she gets no response. Sadie’s brother Parker, his girlfriend Luce, and Avery’s ex-boyfriend Connor are also present at the party. The police arrive with the news that they found Sadie’s body at the beach across town.

One year later, Avery still manages the Lomans’ properties in Littleport. Sadie and Parker’s parents, Grant and Bianca, set up a suicide prevention foundation in Sadie’s honor. Parker arrives in town; he and Avery reconnect, and he brings her onboard the committee overseeing a memorial in Sadie’s honor. Avery investigates a break-in at the Blue Robin, the Loman property where the Plus-One Party was held last summer. While assessing the damage, Avery finds Sadie’s phone hidden in the master bedroom.

Sadie’s phone contains photos of Connor, supporting rumors that the two had a secret relationship. There is also a photo of Harbor Drive, the road where Avery’s parents died in a car accident at least a decade ago. Avery becomes suspicious of the police ruling Sadie’s death a suicide. She begins talking to the people on Detective Collins’s original suspect list: Parker, Connor, and Luce.

Parker tells Avery that the police matched the handwriting on Sadie’s suicide note to her diary—a journal containing suicidal thoughts that actually belonged to Avery. The note was Avery’s, too, an apology to Sadie when they had a brief falling-out earlier in the summer. Connor reveals the extent of his interactions with Sadie: He took her out on his boat only once, and she hid something in a small island cove called the Horseshoe.

Connor takes Avery to the Horseshoe, and she discovers a plastic bag containing a box, which holds a small flash drive. The drive has only one file: a series of financial transfers from the Lomans’ accounts to Avery’s grandmother’s, beginning shortly after the accident that killed her parents. Avery realizes her grandmother was paid to keep silent about the accident.

Avery drives to the hospital where Luce now works, and she shares her suspicions with her. Luce, having since broken up with Parker, is refreshingly honest. She reveals that at the party, she saw a fight between Parker and Avery’s former friend Faith Sylva, and that the two were having a secret affair behind Avery’s back. Parker was trying to break off their relationship, prompting Faith to swing a stone pillar at his head, accidently breaking a window in the process. Connor later confirms what Luce saw.

Faith confesses to breaking into the Lomans’ rentals in an effort to scare customers away from the Lomans and toward her family’s struggling bed and breakfast instead. Faith also tells Avery that she saw a woman who might have been Sadie walking to the Plus-One Party with a man whose face she could not see.

Avery recalls the events of the Plus-One Party, including the power outage, tire marks in the grass outside the Blue Robin, and Sadie’s ruined shoes left behind on the bluffs. Avery returns to the Blue Robin and finds an old bloodstain in the bathroom. She remembers that Sadie had a copy of her car keys; Avery decides to check her trunk. She finds dents and scratches suggesting Sadie was inside, alive and fighting to get out. Avery also finds the missing buckle from one of Sadie’s broken shoes.

Whoever killed Sadie used Avery’s car to take her from the party to the bluffs, and the evidence left behind could be used to frame her. Avery searches the Lomans’ medical records in their office and uncovers a document proving Parker was treated for a concussion two days after her parents were killed. The secret Sadie uncovered was that Parker was responsible for the car accident.

The only thing Avery has left to uncover is the identity of the other person receiving funds from the Lomans to keep the accident quiet. Just before the dedication of Sadie’s memorial, Detective Collins finds Avery in the Loman house. She presents her evidence, which he sets on fire in the office trash can. Collins was the first officer at the scene of her parents’ accident, and the Lomans paid him to cover up all traces of Parker’s involvement. Sadie uncovered the truth, and he killed her for it.

Avery jumps from the master bedroom balcony and runs to the bluffs overlooking the memorial. She runs into Parker just as Collins catches up. Avery exposes Collins’ guilt, which he confirms, and Parker lunges, knocking Collins backward off the bluffs to his death.

The following year, Avery returns to Littleport to prepare for a new summer season with Faith. The two repaired their friendship and started their own rental company. Rumor has it that Parker took a plea deal for his involvement in the car accident and Collins’ death, but Avery is simply happy the truth is out at last. Avery’s narration ends with a reflection on taking risks and the rewards one earns by being bold.

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