Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Guest List by Lucy Foley – because I so loved The Hunting Party:

The Guest List.jpgA 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?

Due for publication : February 2020

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

Posted On 3 December 2018

Filed under Book Reviews
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huntingBefore I get to the meat of this review I can say upfront that I had a great time reading this – it has a cosy murder mystery feel to it, if, that is, you can liken being snowed into a very remote Scottish country retreat with a dead body cosy.  I just blasted through this, it was entertaining, well written and compelling and I really didn’t want to put it down.

I would also mention that this isn’t speculative fiction.  It’s a straight up murder mystery with an Agatha Christie type feel, plenty of red herrings and a group of friends who aren’t quite as close as they think.

The story is told in two different timeframes – very close together but one in which we jump forward a couple of days and a dead body has been discovered and the other set a few days earlier as the party of friends make their way across country to arrive at the lodge they’ve booked for their New Year’s shindig.  We also have a few narrators.  Two of the employees, Heather and Doug, who run the lodge and 3 of the friends, Miranda, Emma and Katie.  The story is told in such a way that for a large portion of the book the reader is unaware of who has been murdered – although it doesn’t stop you from guessing of course.

I think the author succeeds in a number of ways.

Firstly, setting.  A remote lodge set within many acres of land and very little wifi signal, even less when in the middle of a serious snow storm which occurs during the time the guests are in situ.  The guests stay in individual style chalets and the celebrations take place in an ultra modern, all glass structure that helps to increase the tension.  The guests are sometimes outside by themselves going to and fro and on top of that there’s a feeling of being watched which is exacerbated by the all the glass and the slight feeling of fear generated by the fact that a serial murderer seems to be stalking the neighbourhood.  In placing the setting in such a difficult to reach place the author manages to convey a sense of isolation and a feeling of menace and in cutting the guests off from their phones, social media and other means of contacting the outside world succeeds in giving them the sense of being stranded or abandoned – a feeling that is increased further when the snow storm sets in and prevents travel to or from the lodge.

Then there’s the characters.  Both Doug and Heather have secrets in their past which have driven them to accept jobs in such isolated circumstances.  They’re both running away from something and what that is is slowly revealed during the course of the story.  The guests are a bunch of thirty somethings.  The majority of them have known each other since their university days, Katie and Miranda’s friendship goes back even further.  They’re all living their own lives now, for the most part successful in their careers, one couple with a baby daughter but they still come together for these occasions – almost determined to have fun!  On the face of it this is a group who share a lot of history, they like to have a good time, they know each other well, who likes to party hard, who the quiet one is, but, with all this history comes not just good memories but also sometimes long held resentments, jealousies and indiscretions. This is a group of people growing apart but are not quite ready to accept it.  A group of people who if they met now, at this age, they probably wouldn’t be friends.  They’re together because of a long history but sometimes the ugly side of that history pops out and as a result it casts suspicion on more than one character providing lots of red herrings.

Quite a large portion of the story revolves around Miranda.  She plays the queen bee.  Golden, beautiful, dazzling, unexpectedly generous but ruthlessly bitchy.  She has the ability to light up a room.  She can put on the charm at will.  Yes, we’ve seen this sort of character before although what I particularly like about Miranda is that she also has something of a vulnerable streak and as she narrates some of the chapters this comes across quite well.  At the same time the whole group do seem to be a little bit in her shadow and in fact even when you’re reading from one of the other narrators they’re usually thinking about her.

Overall, that’s probably all I can tell you without giving away plot points.  The writing is good, the pace is fast and the story kept me guessing all the way through – and honestly, I didn’t see what was coming but I did have a great deal of fun jumping around from character to character as the author twisted me round in circles giving me first one suspect, then another and then yet another.  On the strength of this novel I would definitely pick up more by this author.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.