“The Last House on the Street” by Diane Chamberlain

Genre: Domestic FictionThe Last House on the Street
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pub. Date: January 11, 2022

The past crimes of a community become known as two women, separated by a generation, are brought together by tragedy and a decades-old mystery.

Chamberlain does a good job of mixing up the civil rights movement and a suspenseful plot around the past and a more recent decade. The suspense story is good.  The author shines when writing on the evils of the KKK, which can be difficult to read, nevertheless, enlightening and well written.

There are two timelines in the novel: Southern, white, twenty-year-old Ellie is resolved to get active in the Civil Rights struggle by assisting African Americans in registering to vote in 1965 in the real-life project— The Summer Community Organization and Political Education (SCOPE), which was peopled by kids in college called on by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 2010, architects, Kayla, and her husband build their dream home in North Carolina, which is where Kayla’s father and Ellie both grew up. Before they move in the husband dies. After much deliberation, Kayla decides that she and their young daughter should move into the house. However, once they are in someone is trying to scare them out.  The twists were decent.

In the powerful and moving earlier timeline, Chamberlain reminds her readers that the KKK was everywhere not just in the Deep South. This part of the story was heartbreaking to read and I real eye-opener to those of us who only know about cross-burning and lynching through old newspaper stories. In this reviewer’s opinion, the 1965 timeline is more than enough to keep the reader’s interest.  The 2010 timeline was not needed other than to attract readers who enjoy suspense.

I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

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