The Guest List (Lucy Foley) – book review

Delivering all the flash and dash you’d expect, the alcohol-soaked pressure cooker environment of a glamorous location wedding sets the scene for grisly murder in Lucy Foley’s latest crime offering, The Guest List.

The marriage of a television celebrity and a trailblazing magazine publisher demands something extra special. Bride to be Jules Keegan finds the perfect solution in the beautiful Cormorant Island off the coast of Ireland, and in its super efficient wedding planner owner, Aoife. Jules has her best friend Charlie on board to MC the reception, and all of the groom’s ushers are old chums from his not-so-jolly boarding school days.  The list of people invited to stay with the wedding party on the island is quite small, and the happy couple have made their choices carefully.

The old friends who have already spent a large amount of time nested in deep on the island with each other are unable to leave even if they want to. A vicious storm about to unleash on the meticulously planned reception sets the stage for scores of long suppressed grievances to erupt forth. As the lights flicker, there is a scream and a grisly discovery.

Structured very much like a play with the mandatory roles we’d expect to see filled at a wedding – Best Man, Ushers, Maid of Honour etc – The Guest List invites all to participate in the glory of the lavish occasion.   If you’re one of these people who simply hates weddings, there is much in The Guest List to smirk about.

The Guest List is a hoot.  A well written hoot at that, which invites all the contempt that over blown modern weddings deserve. A ‘closed room’ whodunit is always delicious and author Lucy Foley has cast a tightly knitted web with its many interactions of a small cast, and absolutely no opportunity to spin a little intrigue is wasted. Past insults, imagined slights, outright betrayals and knowledge of shared cruelty means that no one is saying what they are really thinking.

The author does a brilliant job of keeping everyone’s storylines straight, alternating character perspectives so that our suspicious eyes simply don’t know where to rest. Every character has motive to harm and not knowing who the victim is for most of the novel adds another layer of mystery as we progress. The Guest List is absolutely the treat you need to bunker down and entertain yourself silly with for a few hours. Who knows a better way to travel than by reading books right now?

Like Foley’s 2018 best seller, The Hunting Party, The Guest List has already been optioned for the small screen.  The Guest List is the fifth novel for British author Lucy Foley and is published by Harper Collins Australia.

Andy Thompson

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