Julie Clark’s The Last Flight is a delicious thrill ride of a read. It’s got swapped identities, minute-by-minute suspense, shadowy figures, murder mystery and enough twists and coincidences to make things exciting yet frighteningly realistic.
Clark’s two protagonists, Eva James and Claire Cook, take turns narrating their separate lives before and after they decide, together, to abandon them. When Claire fell in love with her husband, Rory, a handsome and wealthy would-be senator from a powerful family, it was almost a relief. While she’d excelled at Vassar and had a great job at Christie’s, she was still devastated by the deaths of her mother and sister. Rory was charming, with a glittering life—and, Claire realized not long after they wed, a penchant for control and abuse. She longs to escape, and knows she’s got to do it just right; she has a bad feeling about the untimely demise of Rory’s previous girlfriend.
She puts a plan in motion, only to encounter a major last-minute problem. And then, as she muses on her options in a JFK airport bar, Eva joins her and shares her desire for a new, better life. After a few tentative jokes about the movie Freaky Friday, the women decide to do a swap of their own. They exchange clothes, phones and tickets, with Eva taking Claire’s place on a flight to Puerto Rico, and Claire boarding Eva’s flight to California.
Upon touchdown in Oakland, Claire is shocked by the TV news: the Puerto Rico flight crashed, presumably leaving no survivors—and suddenly, she has more choices than she did before. Alas, assuming Eva’s identity has its own set of problems, as it turns out she, too, was at the mercy of dangerous men.
The Last Flight is a suspenseful, timely tale about smart, strong women who support one another in their determination to not just survive, but also thrive, uncertainty and risk be damned.