The Last Stage by Louise Voss #BookReview #BlogTour

A violent and horrific incident forces a young woman to go into hiding, at the peak of her career as lead singer of an indie pop band. Years later, strange things start to happen and it becomes clear that some know who she is…

At the peak of her career as lead singer of a legendary 1980s indie band, Meredith Vincent was driven off the international stage by a horrific incident. Now living a quiet existence in a cottage on the grounds of an old stately home, she has put her past behind her and come to terms with her new life.

When a body is found in the manicured gardens of her home, and a series of inexplicable and unsettling events begins to occur, it becomes clear that someone is watching, someone who knows who she is … Someone who wants vengeance.

And this is only the beginning…

A dark, riveting and chilling psychological thriller, The Last Stage is also a study of secrets and obsessions, where innocent acts can have the most terrifying consequences.

I'm thrilled to be opening the blog tour for The Last Stage by Louise Voss today, alongside The Writer's Block. Many thanks to Louise, Orenda Books and Anne Cater for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

Some people love the idea of living quietly, in a cottage away from everybody but others would be horrified at the thought of being so cut off from society. Meredith Vincent is in the former category but as The Last Stage progresses, it gradually becomes evident that there are reasons beyond just wanting a more peaceful life as to why she gave up international stardom to work in the gift shop of Minstead House, a stately home in the Surrey Hills.
With scenes set in the present days interspersed with chapters taking place in the past, and a narrative which switches between Meredith's first-person perspective and the viewpoint of various other characters, The Last Stage is a superbly structured novel which gradually reveals why Meredith is terrified that she is once again being targeted by somebody who has long intended to cause her immense harm. Louise Voss understands exactly how to juxtapose a refined English country-house murder mystery with the bone-chilling terror of a vengeful dark obsession to create a book which is both relatably familiar and nerve-shreddingly tense.
I'm a little bit younger than Meredith but I would have visited Salisbury with my mum in 1983 and so I loved the mentions of the Old George Mall and Reeves the Baker. Local knowledge aside, the scenes set in the past are so evocative, particularly those which see the teenage Meredith on a life-changing trip to Greenham Common. Parts of The Last Stage are an engrossing coming-of-age story and I really enjoyed discovering how an ordinary young girl from Wiltshire experienced the thrills of first-love with the mercurial Samantha before becoming an immensely successful lead singer. However, as the storyline shifts between the past and present, there is always an ominous sense that Meredith will soon find herself in terrible danger, both then and now. The painful-looking scar on her hand and her fear of being recognised as the artist formerly known as Merry Heather are testaments to the horrific ordeal she was subjected to years ago and it's not surprising that she immediately connects what happened then with the disconcerting and tragic modern day events.
She is a woman who has been compelled to feel she needs to protect herself and consequently has few close relationships and there is a moment in the modern-day storyline where I couldn't help but wince at her decisions, however, although she very clearly makes the wrong choices, I did understand where she was coming from. Her closest relationship is with her twin brother, Pete and I thought the portrayal of the bond between the siblings was a real highlight of the book allowing for a moving exploration of guilt, fear, doubt and grief. Whilst much of the book focuses on Meredith's life, the chapters written from other characters' perspectives are no less engaging. I thought DC Gemma McMeekin was a fantastic character and I really enjoyed seeing how she developed relationships with Meredith, with her old school friend and new officer Emad Khan, and with her superior officer, DS Mark Davis, who is more commonly known as Dark Mavis. Her interactions with each of these people felt absolutely authentic and I loved the way they evolved during the course of the novel.
I must admit that I did figure out part of the plot, although my suspicions weren't confirmed until later which meant there were plenty of moments where I second-guessed myself. However, although I was eventually proved correct, I didn't feel this spoiled my enjoyment of this excellent story at all - a psychological thriller doesn't have to be just about an unexpected twist and The Last Stage with its intriguing plot and first-rate characterisation ensnared me from the very first page. Louise Voss' latest book is outstanding; an enthralling and unsettling mystery which kept me captivated from start to finish. Very highly recommended.

The Last Stage is published by Orenda Books, it is available now as an ebook and in paperback from 11th July 2019. Purchasing links can be found here.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Over her eighteen-year writing career, Louise Voss has had eleven novels published – five solo and six co-written with Mark Edwards: a combination of psychological thrillers, police procedurals and contemporary fiction – and sold over 350,000 books. Her most recent book, The Old You, was a number-one bestseller in ebook. Louise has an MA (Dist) in Creative Writing and also works as a literary consultant and mentor for writers at She lives in South-West London and is a proud member of two female crime-writing collectives, The Slice Girls and Killer Women.
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