Mystery of the Month – The Guest List

The wedding has been planned to perfection but no one could have predicted that one of the guests wouldn’t make it to the last dance alive. But the identity of who “gets it” and who is responsible won’t become apparent until the final moments of this show-stopping psychological thriller.

The Guest List is the follow-up to Lucy Foley’s bestselling novel The Hunting Party, and it’s another cracking whodunnit told from multiple point-of-view characters, all of whom have something to hide.

Successful magazine editor, Jules, is determined to have the perfect wedding with Will, a Bear-Grylls-style reality TV star. But underneath the veil of glitz and glamour lurks insecurities and jealousies. Wedding planner, Aoife, is hiding a personal tragedy behind her professional demeanour. Hannah is hoping for a fun weekend as the plus-one to husband, Charlie, Jules’ best friend (but she harbours suspicions they may be more than just friends). Jules’ sister, Olivia, is the reluctant bridesmaid experiencing trauma following an undisclosed incident, unable to reveal her terrible secret. And don’t forget Johnno, the unlikely best man who just can’t seem to get his life together. Rounding out the cast are Will’s unruly best mates from boarding school, where together they were involved in a dangerous initiation game called Survival.

The setting is an island off the coast of Ireland which can only be accessed by traversing tumultuous waves: a beautiful but remote location where you can easily fall into a peat bog, where no one will find you if you go missing, and where you might slip over the cliff edge and disappear into the sea. Not to mention there’s a wild storm brewing. With power outages, ominous notes and nasty pranks, this hostile environment adds to the confusion of the guests as they try to make sense of what has happened.

The Guest List is plotted to perfection. Lucy Foley masterfully manages multiple characters, each with complex individual storylines, and weaves them into a cohesive whole. The story alternates between the drunken revelry at the wedding reception (where it’s clear something terrible has happened, but not yet clear what) and the lead-up to the wedding. All the characters have a motive and all the clues are there and while it’s easier to guess the probable victim, the challenge is guessing whodunnit and why, making the reveal all the more chilling.

Lucy Foley has again successfully modernised the classic locked-room mystery, with a slew of secretive suspects embroiled in a suspenseful tale of toxic relationships, long-lasting grudges, betrayal, and the impact of trauma and tragedy.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley is published in Australia by Harper Collins.

Standout Simile:

The weather has cleared now and there’s sunlight on the water but the island is cast in the shadow of an overhanging cloud. It seems to crouch there like a great black beast, awaiting its next meal.

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