The Guest List by Lucy Foley is a cracking crime mystery set on an isolated Irish island. The guests are there for the wedding of the year – magazine entrepreneur Jules Keegan is marrying reality TV star Will Slater. What follows is a closed room mystery recognisable from Agatha Christie novels. From the beginning you wonder, who in this group of thirty-somethings is going to be killed? Who is the killer and why?
Foley expertly plays with our expectations, manipulating our first impressions of the characters as they are introduced. Old friends. Family. School days rituals. Hidden jealousies. Secret wrongs. The atmosphere on the exposed windswept island with its treacherous bogs, cliffs, caves and haunting churchyard is cranked up to full notch. We experience the weekend wedding almost hour by hour as each key character tells their own story, with the narrative chopping forwards to the present during the ceremony and reception. This switching of viewpoint and timeframe can be very sudden but it does ramp up the tension. The murder takes place quite late in the timeline making this more a psychological thriller, building up to the killing you know will happen.
The basic plot questions are – how well does Jules know her husband-to-be? What exactly happened on the stag weekend? What were the rituals at the public school attended by the groom and ushers? And why is Olivia, Jules’s sister and bridesmaid, clearly not coping with life? The options for victim and murderer are extended beyond the bridal group with Charlie, Jules’ best friend, and his wife Hannah; and bridal organiser and host Aoife and chef husband Freddie. Foley presents lots of hints about the past and secret resentments, I guessed a couple quite early on but this didn’t stop me turning the pages.
Read this over a weekend when you need an easy-to-read distraction.
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Read my review of Lucy Foley’s The Invitation.
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE GUEST LIST by @lucyfoleytweets #crime #thriller #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4M2 via @SandraDanby