The Guest List
By: Lucy Foley
Opening Line: “The lights go out. In an instant, everything is in darkness.”
Overall: Jules and Will are the couple you love to hate. WIll is a handsome t.v. star and his bride-to-be Jules is a beautiful, smart, publisher. They are having their lavish, designer wedding on an isolated island off the cost of Ireland. The invitees are traveling on boats through the choppy sea to this uninhabited island not knowing who else is invited or what exactly to expect when they arrive. The self-absorbed wedding couple are really trying to impress all of their guests by having this “dream wedding” that will make their guests jealous of how fabulous their life together is. Well, you know the kinds of people who behave like that are always hiding things. But, you come to find out that all of their guests are hiding things too. Previous events in their lives are uncovered from the telling of the story from each of their point-of-view. This has you realizing that there is a lot of anger, resentment and jealousy bubbling-up amongst the guests at this wedding. As tensions mount, a bad storm rolls-in, the lights go out, and someone is killed. That leaves us wondering just who was killed, who killed them, and why?
Ovations: The plot for this book is obviously borrowed from the Agatha Christie masterpiece, And Then There Were None. (1939) I do not mind that the author took her ideas from the Agatha Christie classic. I have read all of Agatha Christie’s books, and, And Then There Were None, was my absolute favorite. So, when I found out that The Guest List was so similar, that is the whole reason I bought it! Yes, the setting of this book was based on the Agatha Christie book, but this author, Lucy Foley, brings her own style to this book and is a wonderfully wicked storyteller. This murder mystery is brilliantly written. The book starts off giving us the background story of each person. Each chapter is written from a different person’s point-of-view. So, as the book goes on, you slowly get to know each person, find out what their secrets are and how they are connected to other people at the wedding. Every person starts to seem as guilty as the next, as each one is hiding things the others don’t know. The pacing of this story is perfectly done as it increases in intensity to a frantic crescendo when they finally find the body. As a suspenseful twist, you do not only not know who killed the victim, but you do not even know who the victim even is! Even when you do find out who was killed, you still do know know who the killer is. I found it really fun to have this double mystery you are trying to figure out. This made the book even better than a classic whodunnit murder mystery.
Oh Well: The only issue I have with this book is that because each chapter is written from each person’s point-of-view it is difficult to keep everyone straight at first as to who is who. As each person is telling us the story in their own words, it jumps around in time to different times in their lives, which is hard to follow sometimes. But, it gets a lot easier and is not really an issue as you get farther in the book. It ends-up being sort of a positive about the book because you really understand what each character is thinking and feeling because it is in their own words. Because of how the plot is written, and that you don’t know who is murdered or who the murder is, it makes total sense as to why the author wrote it that way.
Opinion: I do love closed room, murder mystery thrillers! (That is where there is a group of people isolated from the outside, and one of them committed a murder there. There is a limited suspect pool. Anyone who is there could be the murder because no one could enter or leave the crime scene.) This story qualifies for that as they are all stranded on this desolate island together. This is a clever, “Agatha Christie style” whodunnit, but with a modern twist. Lucy Foley wrote a creepy, atmospheric thriller that will keep you guessing right up until the very end. It has a great opening line, a suspenseful and twisty middle, and a satisfying, logical ending too. I loved it and I highly recommend it! Rating 10 out of 10