Park Row, October 2021, $ 27.99
Working with au courant tropes of the digital dating scene and its inherent dangers in Last Girl Ghosted, Lisa Unger traces the stories of four women seduced and then ghosted by a psychopathic serial stalker after they swipe right on him in the Torch romance finder app. The “last” woman, number four, is 28-year-old New Yorker Wren Greenwood. Wren ignores the red flags that appear soon after she meets Adam Harper, a technology expert with a penchant for Rilke and Jung whose apartment in Chelsea is void of personal details. (That should have been her first warning.)
Even so, when he ghosts her after coming on strong, her search for him leads her to discover three women before her—Bonnie Cartwright, Mia Thorpe, and Melisa Farrow—who all fell victim to a “sweetheart scam” on Torch only to soon after disappear along with their assets. The women’s stories converge when Wren meets Bailey Kirk, a private investigator hired by the father of Mia Thorpe after she disappeared several months ago—after falling for a man who called himself Raife. In what seems to be a current trend, professionalism veers into passion as Wren and Bailey team up to solve Mia’s disappearance.
Unger separates Last Girl Ghosted into three parts, each section preceded by a Rainer Maria Rilke quotation that provides thematic clues to her tale’s general trajectory. Part One, "Ghosted," notes “We come of age as masks.” One mask that Wren wears is as a very successful lonely hearts columnist, Dear Birdie. It is not the only “secret” part to her identity. Part Two, “Rewilding,” provides flashback scenes to Wren’s traumatic childhood when her “doomsday prepper” father taught her survivalist skills—lighting fires, hunting for food, shooting a bow and arrow—that come in handy later. Part Three, “I Am The Storm,” is the most empowering of the sections.
The hunt builds to an adrenaline pumping final action sequence, but astute readers who swiped right at the start may wish they had swiped left after the obvious conclusion.