Last Seen is the latest unputdownable thriller by Lucy Clarke. It takes place amongst the summer community of Langstone Sandbank on England's south coast, but it could be any similar beach community where a tragedy tests the lifelong friendship of two women to the limit.
Seven years ago, best friends, Jacob and Marley, swim out to the yellow buoy and get into difficulties, but only Jacob is rescued. Marley's body is never found.
Marley's mother, Isla, turns to her best friend, Sarah and her husband, Nick, who spend the summer months at the beach hut next door, for support and comfort as they all come to terms with Marley's death.
But the title of the novel gives a clue to the conflict arising: Who was the last person to see Marley alive? What were the circumstances of his death? Who was responsible?
This is a gripping novel, told in turns from Sarah's and Isla's point of view over the seven years since the incident, and gradually, coming together until the dramatic truth is revealed in the final chapters.
Lucy Clarke, as always, takes you right onto the beach. You can taste the salt; feel the sand between your toes; and squint into the sun reflected off the sea as you search with Sarah and Isla for their sons.
It is a moving story of summers spent on the beach and the secrets the sea keeps in its depths.