Kate’s Review: “The Guest List”

51933429Book: “The Guest List” by Lucy Foley

Publishing Info: William Morrow, June 2020

Where Did I Get This Book: I received an eARC from NetGalley.

Book Description: The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

Review: Thank you to NetGalley for sending me and eARC of this novel!

Last May, I spent a lovely Colorado trip with my husband at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. While it wasn’t exactly ‘isolated’ in the way that we think of isolation, it felt removed enough from the hustle and bustle of a big city that the tranquility of solitude was definitely present. It was here that I read “The Hunting Party”, Lucy Foley’s isolated whodunnit. I was very taken with this book, and when I saw that her newest novel, “The Guest List” was available on NetGalley I immediately opted to read it. It sounded similar to “The Hunting Party” with the isolation and the circle of friends/acquaintances hiding secrets from each other, but it worked well enough last time I was happy to dive into a similar story again. Even if isolation this time feels a little too close to home.

The first thing that really captured my attention in “The Guest List” was the setting. A somewhat spoiled bride and her charismatic and B-List famous fiance have decided to hold their wedding on a remote island off of Ireland, and boy oh boy did Foley really bring this locale to life. I could practically see the waves crashing against the rocks, and smell the salt in the air, and feel the odd foreboding of a rough terrain and perilous landscape for the unfamiliar. It also serves as a perfect spot for a gathering in which a murder is going to take place. Foley sets up the story with multiples narratives, and tells it between present time and flashbacks to give an entire picture as to who the potential victim is, and what exactly they did that ended with their cruel fate. I always like a non linear mystery if it’s done well, and Foley has no problem with keeping multiple balls in the air as the lays out various puzzle pieces as to who the victim is, and why they were killed. I am also happy to report that I was mostly caught off guard by the mystery as a whole, from who the victim was to who committed the crime to the motive. There are plenty of red herrings along with justifiable grudges that, in familiar Agatha Christie style, everyone is a possible suspect. Did it sometimes seem like the ‘everyone has a reason’ angle feel a little unbelievable? Sort of. But did that detract from the mystery or make it any less suspenseful? Not for me! I was able to overlook some of the REALLY coincidental stuff, because overall I thought that the work was put in to really pull off a satisfactory web of motives, secrets, and twists.

In terms of the characters and their perspectives, overall I thought that their characterizations were well rounded and interesting. Even though we are really only getting into who they are and what they are like in regards to their relationship to the bride and or groom, and even though it’s really only a snapshot taken within this one event, we learn a lot about all of them. From Aoife the wedding planner to Johnno the Best Man to Jules the Bride, everyone gets a moment to shine, and to show why they could be either a victim, or a perpetrator. My favorite of the perspectives was Olivia, the younger half sister of the bride, who is struggling with a fragile mental state. While it may have been tempting to fall back on tried and true tropes when it comes to characters who struggle with depression or depressive episodes, I really appreciated the effort and care that Foley put into Olivia, and how we learned where he difficulties stem from, and the difficulties those around her have to contend with when dealing with a mentally unstable loved one.

“The Guest List” was an enjoyable thriller mystery, and Lucy Foley continues to delight and entertain. If you’re looking for a fun mystery this summer, consider picking this one up!

Rating 8: A mystery filled with turns and surprises, “The Guest List” kept me guessing and held me in suspense.

Reader’s Advisory:

“The Guest List” isn’t on any super relevant Goodreads lists as of now, but I think that it would fit in on “And Then There Were None: Deadly Parties”.

Find “The Guest List” at your library using WorldCat!

Highlights: June 2020

Things in the Twin Cities are very tough right now as summer is starting. But just know that we are safe, though we are also heartbroken and angry like many in our community over the events of the past week. Though it’s hard sometimes to turn our brains off from these things, we do have some books that we’re looking forward to this month. And along with that, please take a look at some of the links we’re providing to see how you can possibly help our community and George Floyd’s loved ones. Thank you. Say his name: George Floyd. Black Lives Matter.

Organizations

Official George Floyd Memorial Fund: The official Go Fund Me by George Floyd’s loved ones.

We Love Lake Street: An organization that is raising money to help clean up and rebuild the damage done to small businesses on Lake Street, one of the neighborhoods hardest hit. Many of the people in this area are BIPOC, including the business owners.

Migizi Fundraiser: A local organization for Indigenous Youth burnt down and hopes to rebuild.

Neighbors United Funding Collaborative: A group that is raising money to give to small businesses in the Midway neighborhood, an area that was hard hit in St. Paul.

Northstar Health Collective: Medics that are on site during protests as well as community health activists.

Minnesota Freedom Fund: A local group that raises money for bail and bond to put up for those who have been arrested with a focus on social justice and immigration.

Serena’s Picks

50147675._sx318_sy475_Book: “The Obsidian Tower” by  Melissa Caruso

Publication Date: Jun 4, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I really enjoyed Caruso’s original “Swords and Fire” trilogy. It featured a strong heroine, an interesting magic system, and strong world-building. So I was excited to see that she was coming out with a new series so quickly. Even better, it is one that is set in the same world, but this time focuses on a young woman who heralds from Vaskandar, the wild, nature-based magical kingdom that was the predominant villains of the first trilogy. What’s more, it sounds like the story will be less about a conflict between Vaskandar and Rivera, like the original trilogy was, but will be introducing some new magical elements and characters. I’m super excited to see what it has to offer!

46033842._sy475_Book: “The Empire of Gold” by S.A. Chakraborty

Publication Date: June 30, 202

Why I’m Interested: “The Daevabad Trilogy” has been my favorite current fantasy series for several years. The first two books each ended up high on my “Top 10” lists each year, and I’d be hard pressed to think of a better debut fantasy author on the scene right now. Chakraborty seemingly came out of nowhere and blew me away with an incredible, original fantasy story feature a complicated Daeva society whose roots and conflicts go back thousands of years. And this is the conclusion. I have to say, I’m equally terrified as I am excited. The last book ended with the such a high stakes cliff-hanger and so many complicated threads all tangled up that it’s impossible for me to see a way out of this that won’t just be tragedy all around. I’m prepared for some sadness, but please, please, let my dear Nahri come out of it ok.

52378874._sx318_sy475_Book: “The Angel of Crows” by Katherine Addison

Publication Date: June 23, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I obviously love both historical fiction and fantasy, so I’m all the more intrigued when the two are combined. In this version of 1888 London, humans and paranormal creatures, such as vampires, werewolves, and even angels, share the streets. So this time, when history makes its turn and Jack the Ripper arrives on the scene, the story will play out very differently. The last “Jack the Ripper” story I read was in the latest installment of the Veronica Speedwell mystery series and, wow, was that a disappointment. Jack the Ripper was LITERALLY a passing figure and the entire book was a pretty big let down. So, the stakes are high for this one coming off that. The fact that its incorporating all of these fantastical beings is definitely a new twist, especially angels which are less common than vampires and werewolves. I’m really curious to see what angle this story takes on the most famous serial killer there ever was.

Kate’s Picks

50833559._sx318_sy475_Book: “Home Before Dark” by Riley Sager

Publication Date: June 30, 2020

Why I’m Interested: Riley Sager hasn’t steered me wrong yet! He’s definitely up there with other favorite thriller authors right now, so you know that I was very happy to see a new book coming out. And this one takes on an Amityville-like tale of hauntings. Or maybe fraud. Maggie’s father wrote a memoir about the time he and his family spent in a haunted house. The book was a runaway hit, but was met with skepticism as well as love. Now Maggie is an adult, and doesn’t really want to associate with that tale as she has no memory of the things her father claimed happened. But after her father’s death she inherits the old house, and hopes to renovate it before she puts it up for sale. And when strange things start happening while she’s there, she has to wonder if maybe he wasn’t lying after all. SIGN. ME. Up.

50202540Book: “I Killed Zoe Spanos” by Kit Frick

Publication Date: June 30, 2020

Why I’m Interested: We have another book that is exploring the idea of the true crime podcast! When Anna moves to a new town for a job, the community is still reeling from the disappearance of local girl Zoe Spanos. Anna’s resemblance to Zoe is uncanny, and she starts to become obsessed with the case. Her obsession implicates her when Zoe’s body is eventually found. Teen podcaster Martina, whose show is all about Zoe and her disappearance, thinks that something else is up, and vows to find the truth. This really sounds like it’s going to tap into my love for both YA thrills and true crime podcasting, so I’m VERY excited for it.

53152636._sx318_sy475_Book: “Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Publication Date: June 30, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I can safely say that we are BOTH interested in “Mexican Gothic”, here on the blog.  My reasoning is that I enjoyed Moreno-Garcia’s last book, “Gods of Jade and Shadow”, and I love me some Gothic creepiness. So a book that is quoted as being a ‘terrifying twist on classic gothic horror’ by an author I’ve enjoyed is absoLUTELY going to be of interest to me. When Noemí, a debutante in 1950s Mexico, receives a call for help from her newly married cousin, she rushes to an isolated house in the country called High Place, where her cousin lives with her mysterious new husband. Noemí finds herself in the presence of not only a potentially dangerous aristocrat, but also in a house that seems menacing, and perhaps hiding secrets. Moreno-Garcia’s writing style is already very enjoyable, and it definitely sounds like a fresh take on a classic genre!

What books are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments!