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The Guest List


The Guest List

Jules Keegan is a Type A personality all the way. She has organized every aspect of her upcoming wedding to Will Slater, the star of “Survive the Night,” a popular reality adventure show where he is dropped into dangerous terrain and must find his way out. She even has included his old boarding school friends, despite their wanton, somewhat juvenile ways --- especially Johnno, his best man.

Will is perfect --- almost too good to be true. His father was the headmaster of their school, whereas Johnno was a middle-class, scholarship kid who never really fit in with the others. And sometimes, long-buried feelings rise to the surface: “Will’s my best mate. I’d like to just be happy for him. But it’s dredged it all up, being with the boys again. It’s like none of it affected him, none of it held him back. Whereas I’ve always felt, I don’t know, like I don’t deserve to be happy.” Something happened during their tenure at the school --- something they don’t want to think about.

"...a gripping page-turner perfect for a sunny beach day or a lazy, rainy afternoon. Its propulsive pace keeps the story moving forward as fast as you can turn the pages, with the motley crew of characters narrating the action."

The wedding weekend takes place on Inis an Amplora, a small island off the west coast of Ireland. Chosen for its remoteness, a nod to the groom’s job and the bride’s Irish roots, this definitely will not be your typical wedding: “The wildness of this place gets under your skin. These guests will feel themselves far from the normal moral codes of society, safe from the prying eyes of others. These men are ex-public schoolboys. They spend much of their lives being forced to follow a strict set of rules that probably didn’t end with their leaving school: choices around what university to attend, what job to do, what sort of house to live in. In my experience those who have the greatest respect for the rules also take the most enjoyment in breaking them.” Jules just hopes they behave themselves for the most part.
The island also has an ancient and unsettling history: “Twenty years or so ago the archeologists found them. All together in the turf bog they were, side by side, packed in tight…. Perfectly preserved… It was a massacre. They’d all been hacked to death.” It’s the perfect backdrop for a murder mystery. Oh yes, there will be a murder. One of these people won’t make it out alive.
Jules has been anticipating this weekend for months. She’s excited to begin her married life with the handsome Will, even though the anonymous note she received back in London still nags at her. It warned her not to marry him, to call off the wedding, that Will is not who he claims to be. Who could have sent it? An upset fan? An angry ex? Jules doesn’t have time to worry about it. She has too much to do, like rallying her flighty mother and sullen half-sister, 19-year-old Olivia. The main building on the island, The Folly, is only equipped to house the wedding party, a few family members, and the owners, who are also the caterers. The rest of the guests will be ferried over by boat, despite the ominous forecast.
In addition to the ex-boarding school lads and family members, Jules has invited her best male friend, Charlie, and his wife, Hannah. Charlie is one of her oldest pals, and she desperately wants him to like her husband-to-be, but maybe not for the right reasons. Is there possibly a little spark that she’s harboring for Charlie? Hannah often feels left out and is agog at the over-the-top wedding plans. She feels like an out-of-touch mother of two in these glamorous surroundings.

Trying to keep these events on schedule is Aoife, who, together with her husband, Freddy, is the owner of The Folly. She tries to blend into the background as she keeps things running on time. These diverse people and their secrets all converge on this small island, in this haunted place, replete with a storm bearing down on them: “It feels personal, this storm. It feels as though it has saved all its fury for them.” All of these ingredients add up to murder. But who dies, and who could have done it? Each of them has the means and a motive, but who acts upon it?
Lucy Foley’s latest thriller is a gripping page-turner perfect for a sunny beach day or a lazy, rainy afternoon. Its propulsive pace keeps the story moving forward as fast as you can turn the pages, with the motley crew of characters narrating the action. THE GUEST LIST is perfect for fans of Ruth Ware, Lisa Jewell, Shari Lapena, and even the queen of the whodunit herself, Agatha Christie. You’ll be glad you didn’t make it onto this Guest List!

Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on June 12, 2020

The Guest List
by Lucy Foley