Friday 21 February 2020

Book Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley.

Publisher: HarperCollins UK.
Hardcover, 384 pages.

Release date: February 20th 2020.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Source: Received from publisher for review.

A wedding celebration turns dark and deadly in this deliciously wicked and atmospheric thriller reminiscent of Agatha Christie from the author of The Hunting Party.

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

A rugged, windswept island off the west coast of Ireland is the setting for The Guest List, Lucy Foley’s follow-up to her 2019 smash it, The Hunting Party. As suitable murder mystery settings go, it doesn’t get more fitting than Cormorant Island, which is boggy, barren, and steeped in folklore of the very spooky kind. On the other hand, as venues for destination weddings go, Cormorant Island may not be an obvious choice, but it has an undiscovered off-the-beaten-track charm to it that appeals to online magazine publisher, Jules, who dares to be different, and her fiancé, handsome TV personality Will, who goes along with whatever Jules wants; the kind of guy who is guaranteed to adopt the cringeworthy mantra ‘Happy wife, happy life,’ once the rings have been exchanged.

 The Guest List opens on an ominous note as a storm rages on Cormorant Island causing the lights go out. It soon becomes clear that despite the best efforts of wedding planner Aoife, and the meticulous attention-to-detail of bridezilla Jules, that something has gone seriously awry. The story unfolds through a series of flashbacks told via multiple narrators, including best man Johnno, an old school friend of Will’s, and bridesmaid Olivia, a broken, fragile girl, who is the younger sister of the bride. As with all good mysteries, nothing is what it first seems in The Guest List, and just about everybody in the wedding party is harbouring grudges and hiding more than a few dark secrets. As the alcohol flows, the secrets start to spill… 

 While The Guest List relies maybe a little too heavily on coincidence at times – the term ‘six degrees of separation’ springs to mind – it is nonetheless a highly entertaining mystery –featuring a whole host of ghastly characters - that kept me flipping the pages late into the night. Fans of The Hunting Party are sure to love this tale of madness, mayhem and the wedding from hell. One thing is for sure: Jules and Will will not be living happily ever after! 

 In short: A page-flipper of a mystery that will keep you entertained right till the end. If you liked The Hunting Party you will love The Guest List.

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