Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Book Review: The Last Party

By Becky Gulc

‘On New Year's Eve, Rhys Lloyd has a house full of guests.

He's celebrating the success of his lakeside holiday homes, and has generously invited the village to drink champagne with their wealthy new neighbours. By midnight, Rhys will be floating dead in the freezing waters of the lake.

On New Year's Day, DC Ffion Morgan has a village full of suspects. She grew up in the tiny community, so the murder suspects are her neighbours, friends and family - and Ffion has her own secrets to protect.

With a lie uncovered at every turn, soon the question isn't who wanted Rhys dead . . . but who finally killed him’. (Synopsis courtesy of Waterstones.)

I do enjoy a good thriller and Clare Mackintosh is one of my favourite authors within this genre, so I couldn’t wait to read her latest novel, The Last Party.

The Shore is a series of new and controversial swanky lakeside holiday homes for the rich on the Wales/England border, an investment by local celebrity singer Rhys Lloyd and his business partner Jonty. When Rhys is found dead following a New Years Eve party, where the rich and not so rich are invited and the invested and the bitter are invited – we’re left wondering who wanted Rhys dead.

Bring in DC Ffion Morgan for Wales and DC Leo Brady for England who need to work together cross-forces to solve the crime, a tad awkward when they find out they already know each other. With Ffion growing up in the area, she knows the locals, or thinks she does, but will this help or hinder the case? And can Leo’s fresh outlook bring resolution to the crime?

I really enjoyed the narrative – short chapters, the present, then the past, from the viewpoints of a wide-range of characters with tension and suspense slowly building throughout. I admit to finding the number of characters a bit much for the first half of the novel, I had to keep reminding myself who was who. For me part two of the novel is when I really got into it, the reveal at the end of part one surprised me and I was eager to see how everything would pan out.

The characters aren’t particularly likable aside from Ffion and Leo but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the novel. We slowly learn most people have a motive for wanting Rhys dead, and he becomes more unlikable throughout as we learn more about him. In this sense the killer could have been anyone and in a way there was therefore no shock about the reveal, even though it wasn’t all as it seems and there is indeed a good twist at the end. 

Whilst I maybe wasn’t as gripped by this novel as I have been with other novels by Clare I did still truly enjoy it, particularly the second half. I believe there will be a series featuring Ffion and I would definitely read more novels featuring this lead character. 

More by Clare Mackintosh:

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