The Guest List by Lucy Foley

There is something triumphant and exhilarating about treating yourself to a fresh hardback, especially one signed by the author. I enjoyed Lucy’s previous, and first, thriller ‘The Hunting Party’ very much (there’s a review on my blog feed) so, I was full of anticipation to read her next book. I was particularly taken with the red tipped pages on this edition – it felt like a premonition that this was going to be a menacing read, as though blood had stained the pages.

The beauty of writing in the first person narrative is that you can share as much, or as little as you like about the personality and past of the character. The author has mastered this way of dropping titbits that can be interpreted in so many different ways that as soon as you think you have a handle on them, your opinion switches from just a few words, or from another character viewing an interaction differently. It’s easy to follow the flashback interjections, timeline and narrative switches as the sections are delightfully snatchy and manageable – it’s great to pick up and put down without the fear of getting lost or drawn into a long chapter.

The premise of this book is heavily weighed down by self-opinion and how the characters want to appear to others, let’s just say it’s relatable – everyone knows people like that in real-life. But the complexity of the story and how it unfolds to reveal each tangent is really great. You want to pick someone to be the victim and someone to be the killer, but you cannot pin it down; you think you’ve got it sussed, on the home straight, then suddenly you swerve and feel back to square 1. I love this “tennis match” back-and-forth aspect, although it can get a little wearing but I think the author judges that herself well because at those points a big story development or reveal follows to set things solid.

The wildness of the setting coupled with the feral male characters’ antics leaves you feeling ragged and wanting to escape. The over-whelming power of memories and how time warps them for some people is an interesting thread throughout the book, but there is a potent undercurrent of pretence. Identity is explored very well and it shows how we could all be connected without realising it, but how dangerous it can be if certain people figure it out.

I felt more prepared for this thriller, than ‘The Hunting Party’, who’s style came as such a refreshing shock and that’s why I raved about it, but this doesn’t mean ‘The Guest List’ is a less well-written book. I just knew more of what to expect regarding the layout and composition, nonetheless enjoying it. I almost think the crime itself was “deserved” (not that I’m condoning murder…) but it really had you going until the killer’s admittance, because it could have almost been anyone! Gets you thinking; how well do you really know the people in your life? If THAT many people want to kill you, but you think you’ve got them all wrapped around your little finger? It really is a good book, in a great setting and I would recommend giving it a read. Just not on a remote island… in a storm. – GJ

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