The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain is yet another dual timeline story. I have decided I am getting bored of this format. As much as I love Diane Chamberlain, I found myself struggling to get connected to either storyline in this novel. I did enjoy that the main character from the earlier timeline becomes a part of the second timeline connecting the two stories. Even so, the transitions from one story to the other were a bit jarring at times.
In 1965, Ellie Hockley is a pharmacy student at the University of North Carolina. In the summers, she works at her father’s pharmacy in Round Hill, North Carolina and lives in the family home on the isolated Hockley Street. Ellie learns about the SCOPE project that encourages blacks to register to vote. Her family, best friend, and her boyfriend, Reid, are all opposed to Ellie joining this project. Her work requires her to live with local black families and to have very limited contact with her own family. Ellie is a passionate civil rights advocate, She quickly finds herself in conflict not only with those she loves, but also with the local Klu Klux Klan branch, which is determined to keep SCOPE from succeeding in its mission. Ellie also finds herself deeply attracted to the young black man she is assigned to canvas the area with. Once word of this relationship gets out, all hell breaks loose.
In 2010, Architect Kayla Carter is a 28-year-old widow with a young daughter. Her husband died when he fell down the stairs of the dream house the two were building at the end of Hockley Street in a new subdivision in Round Hill, North Carolina. Just before she is to move in, Kayla is contacted by a strange woman who tells her not to move into the house, which sits on a heavily wooded lot. The woman is very threatening. In spite of her misgivings, Kayla goes ahead and moves into the home. In surveying the property, she finds a strange cleared circle with a treehouse near a very murky lake. While unpacking boxes, she finds a letter that her father, Reid, had written to her late husband, warning him about the past history of the property. Kayla then meets Ellie Hockley who has returned to her childhood home after more than 50 years away to care for her elderly mother and older brother who is dying.
Soon, strange things happen at Kayla’s new house at the end of the street. Kayla realizes there was a connection between her father and Ellie. But does that relationship have anything to do with threatening woman and strange occurrences happening at Kayla’s house? And are there really ghosts that haunt this wooded property as her father implied?
Overall, this is a good mystery. I enjoyed learning about the SCOPE project, which I knew nothing about prior to this story.
3.5-stars, rounded up to 4-stars. Thank you to #NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for my advanced reader copy. The House at the End of the Street will be published on January 11, 2022.