Published by HarperCollins UK on February 20th 2020
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thrillers
Set on a remote island off the Irish coast, this is one guest list no one would want to be on, just as no one would have wanted an invitation to the New Year's Eve party in Foley's previous novel, The Hunting Party . Lives unravel amid the revelry on an eerie and remote island as family and friends assemble for a glam wedding in an updated Murder on the Orient Express. Each of the principal characters has a reason to want one of their number dead, there are old secrets, and one of them is murdered.
Lucy Foley had a great debut with The Hunting Party – a gripping murder mystery set in a remote cabin in the woods. The Guest List is another solid read that’s very addictive and hard to put down.
This time our story is set on a tiny, somewhat spooky island off the coast of Ireland, and we’re following a large cast of characters in the run up to, and on the night of, a prestigious, exclusive wedding. In terms of format, we have a good multiple POV going on, and on top of switching characters, we’re also switching between the run up to the event, and the moment after all the lights go out at the wedding and everything picks up. There’s a lot to keep track of, but Foley does a good job of keeping the threads tightly woven so it’s not too much to handle.
The rituals, the male bonding. When we get together there’s this kind of pack mentality. We get carried away.
The characters are interesting, though a lot of the ushers seeed to just blend together with their private school in-jokes, arrogance and entitlement. They’re not especially likeable, but then I don’t think they’re meant to be. They do feel a bit like cardboard cut outs of characters though – they felt a bit shallow. Jules, the bridezilla, Helen, the plus one, Olivia, the troubled little sister and Aoife, the wedding planner are all much more interesting people – this is where Foley shines. Foley does a great job of fleshing out these characters and making them feel real – even when you don’t like them, they’re relatable.
The rage is growing inside me, overtaking the shock and grief. I can feel it blossoming up behind my ribs. It’s almost a relief, how it obliterates every other feeling in its path
The story is addictive and kept me guessing until about two-thirds of the way through – to begin with, we don’t know who has even been murdered, so it’s tricky to figure out who might have done it! On top of that, the island is quite spooky and Foley creates just enough tension to have you wondering if maybe there’s a supernatural element involved. There are plenty of twists and revelations, but for me there was a particular one which made me sure I knew who was going to be murdered – and that multiple people would have motive for murdering them. From that point on, I felt things were a bit predictable but the rest of the book had been so addictive until then I didn’t particularly mind.
Despite all those things I liked, the book felt a little heavy handed, and there were a couple of plot holes that didn’t really add up. It’s impossible for me to explain what frustrated me without spoiling the story so I won’t! I will say that what irritated me is a minor thing that probably won’t irritate many people, and that the book is overall a great read. If you’re a crime fan, if you love twisty dramas like Big Little Lies, if you’re just looking for a quick and addictive read, you’ll enjoy this.
Buy it? This is one I’d pick up on a deal.
In a nutshell: A hugely gripping, tense mystery which you won’t want to put down.