I think that if I hadn’t recently read Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, I would have given this five stars as it was an exceptionally good thriller and if you have read that book and enjoyed it, then I would thoroughly recommend that you try this one.
Told through multiple narrators who have all been gathered on a remote Irish island for the wedding of Jules and Will, beautiful successful people, The Guest List is a tale of hidden secrets in a forbidding setting in the middle of a high stakes occasion. All of the signals are there for a book which was be a page turner and that is exactly what this is.
There is a mix of characters: friends from school, wayward family members, the plus ones as well as the venue owners themselves, all with a voice in the book as well as the bride and groom.
Someone is murdered on the island – we are not told who and the way that Lucy Foley’s plot unfolds is masterful – the identity is kept secret until the very end as is that of the murderer. But the trail is set with little snippets of information throughout from the characters, all of whom relate their stories in the first person. This, I think, is an ambitious technique as too many characters can become confusing and lead the book astray but this does not happen here. Foley draws distinct characters with distinct voices so that there is no confusion at all.
There are twists and turns throughout but less in the form of red herrings and more in the economical way that information is released. This is done really well with us sharing those “Aha!” moments of recognition at the same time as the characters a lot of the time.
What I also liked about it is the setting. A peat bog island with a legacy of its own, of ghosts and unburied bodies in the bog which will claim you at any moment if you stray from the path, it is very atmospheric with the caves and cliffs and wild weather which appears from nowhere. This all adds to its sense of menace. There are definite echoes of Agatha Christie in its pages.
I will definitely seek out more books by Lucy Foley in future.