Book Review – The Guest List by Lucy Foley – A breathtaking murder mystery
My Rating – 4 out of 5
Plot Summary – The Guest List
This was one uncanny coincidence – my two recent reads, One by One by Ruth Ware and The Guest List by Lucy Foley, have striking similarities in their plotlines! The commonalities being – A remote luxurious location, a bunch of people coming together for a common purpose, a natural calamity, then tragedy strikes, and then the twisty race to the grand climax! Both have done an excellent job of building the backstories, the tension, and the suspense, but both books leave you perfectly sated at the end of it all.
Jules, owner of the magazine The Download, and a Diva of all Divas is getting married to her hugely charismatic Reality TV Star beau, Will, at the remote Inis an Amplóra (or Cormorant Island), off the coast of Ireland. The owners of the ancient castle on the island, Aoife (pronounced EE-FA), and her husband Freddy is the Wedding Planner and Chef for the grand occasion, and they plan to make it a grand success that will put their island on the list of ‘Must Visit’ places in Ireland.
The guest list includes Will’s school friends, both his and Jules’s families, and even some employees from Jules’s magazine. Most of them are meeting each other after a long time, and as it tends to do at most times, it brings out the best and worst among people – especially without the recourse of being able to leave at a moment’s notice. Each chapter is told from the perspective of one character or the other, timed before the marriage ceremony and one during or after.
The main characters being Aoife, Jules, Olivia (Jules’s sister), Will, Johnno (Will’s Best Man and best friend), and Hannah (Jules’s best male friend Charlie‘s wife). Each chapter brings out the backstory of each character, how they are linked to Will or Jules, and the intricate emotional linkages that each character displays about the union they are here to attend. In more ways than one, the suspense builds up to a crescendo, more so because the identity of the victim is not revealed till almost the end of the story!
Conclusion – The Guest List Book Review
In the fashion of a great thriller, every character who narrates his or her story could either be the victim or the perpetrator, as slowly each one of them develops a motive to murder somebody else. That is why, when the reveal comes, it is the final pair of surprises. The identity of the victim and the murderer, when they are slowly revealed by the last 2-3 chapters, almost give you a sense of déjà vu – the ‘I thought so’ moment!
This is undoubtedly one of the best thrillers of 2020, not because of its plot but how entertainingly Lucy Foley has penned it. Many times, you’d think that this is the victim or this is the murderer, only to be proved wrong at the end of it! The depth to which she goes to paint the emotional upheavals and state of mind of each narrator is quite brilliant and the reader moves with the character, in all their tribulations and dilemmas. A must-read for all thriller fans worldwide, this will resonate in the reader’s mind for quite some time to come.