My Review: The Guest List: by Lucy Foley

Publish Date: June 2nd, 2020
Number of Pages: 330 Pages
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre(s): Mystery/Thriller

Total Star Rating: 2.5 Stars

There’s something about the season of Autumn that just gets me in the mood for a juicy murder mystery novel! the changing of the leaves, the crisp air, the warm drinks, and making the shift from t-shirts and shorts over to sweaters and jeans just gets me in the mindset to want to get into a creepy story that makes my mind race and keeps me guessing until the bloody climax. I’d maybe even say it’s similar to those who really enjoy having horror movie marathons during the months of fall; with Halloween just around the corner, why not be spooked a little bit for your amusement? I’ve never been a big fan of horror in both book or movie form, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t drift away from what I usually enjoy reading and turn to something with a much more sinister vibe to it, at least for the sake of a good story!

The Guest List is the most recent release from author Lucy Foley, who’s written another suspense/thriller/mystery titled The Hunting Party, which I haven’t read yet, but it’s definitely on my radar! With the gorgeous cover design, and my interest in a murder mystery story piqued during the fall season, I wanted to give it a try and see how I liked it. It wasn’t a bad book at all, in fact it’s actually set up in a creative way of mixing the past with present day, but I just wasn’t as excited as I’d hoped I’d be. I was curious enough to want to keep reading on and see who was behind it, and I also wasn’t disappointed at the big reveal at the end, but I just wasn’t mind-blown or completely shocked out of my whit by this story.

There are some incredibly noteworthy things I want to address about this book, as I don’t like to only leave my negative thoughts known in my reviews: I loved how the author had this story told from multiple perspectives, how unpredictable the story overall was and how I didn’t know who the killer was until they revealed themselves, and Will Slater ended up being an incredible character for the sake of the story!

Even though I’m lukewarm about this book, I’d still easily recommend it to those who love books within the genre it belongs to. I think just because I didn’t fully get out of it what I wanted, I can still see how others could really get into this story and enjoy it much more than I did.

What It’s About:

The Official Blurb:

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?

What I Liked:

  1. It’s Told From Multiple Perspectives! I really do like a story told through the views of multiple characters, it can make a story feel so fresh and more interesting that way, and it really added to this book to see how the timeline developed. You see one event happen within the day leading up to the wedding; some actions were more shocking than others, or a character was acting strange, and then someone else’s perspective has an assist in explaining it afterward. You have Aoife (the wedding planner), Jules (the bride), Johnno (the best man), Hannah (the plus one), and Olivia (the bridesmaid). Each of them have their own secrets and baggage that seem to have followed them to the island where this wedding is taking place.
  2. It Kept Me Guessing! I love to be unsure of who the killer is in a whodunnit-style mystery, and this book truly had me trying to figure it out up until the big climax of the story and the killer is revealed!
  3. Will Slater. It’s not that I liked the character, in fact you’ll like him less and less as you read on, but the way the author integrated him into the story and had him be such a pivotal character despite how he’s not one of the character’s who’s telling the story, I had to make a note about him and how on the outside he seems like the Hollywood “golden boy” but has so much more going on beneath the surface. Definitely keep your eye on him when you read this book!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. It’s a Real Slow Burn…I’m not exactly sure what the perfect way to set up a murder mystery like this would’ve been, the author technically checked off every major aspect to include in the set up: have a cast of characters, give them all terrible secrets and some sort of connection to each other, put them all in an isolated environment and have their means of communication cut off from the outside world so they’re trapped. What really slowed this book down in the middle was getting to know the characters and getting a sense of who they were. As it went on, the characters did get more interesting as secrets slowly began to reveal themselves until suddenly everyone had a motive to be the killer, but it was just so slowly drawn out that this book was a little hard to initially want to keep reading.
  2. Don’t Know The Victim Until The End…The story is told in a way that has it constantly switching back and forth to the night of the wedding and the day before when the bridal party and the close family members arrived. The night of the wedding, it’s implied that someone has been killed and a small search party goes out in search of whoever it may be. Switch back to the day before, and things slowly escalate to make you have two questions: who’s the victim, and who killed them? Personally, I like the murder mysteries where the killer takes out multiple people one-by-one. I’ll admit the way this whole story was told was cleverly done and was pretty creative amongst the many other murder mystery stories out there, but I personally find that I just like the stories with multiple murder victims: they’re just more exciting to read in my opinion.


A clever, well written whodunnit-style murder mystery that will truly leave you wondering who could possibly be behind it until the very end. A perfect fix for anyone who likes to get into the suspense/thriller in the fall like I do, I think anyone who enjoyed books like And Then There None by Agatha Christie and An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena will enjoy this book!

Overall, I thought The Guest List was an okay read but didn’t love it, but lately any sort of suspense/thriller hasn’t really hit me like they used to. Believe it or not, but they just aren’t thrilling enough for me, ironic enough. I’m always happy to hear recommendations from anyone interested, so if you have one that you think I’d enjoy, I’d love to hear it!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Horror, Mystery/Thriller, Writing/Articles

October Reads and Reviews: Prepare to be Scared!

It is now October, the month of many different things: the leaves turning into majestic shades of reds, oranges and yellows, the air becomes crisp and cool, Hot Apple Cider and Pumpkin Spice, Sweater Weather, and the sky becomes darker earlier which may or may not bring me to my next example: Halloween.

People love to be creeped out this time of the year and go all out for the candy-crazed holiday: there’s costumes to be made or bought, trick or treating, maybe a halloween themed party, and enjoy a horror movie marathon or two. I personally will do doing pretty much all that, plus reading some creepy, thrilling stories that might make me need a flashlight when I go to bed. In honor of October and Halloween, the only reviews will be about books that have things that go bump in the night! I plan on reading some new titles as well, which will be some amazing fun!

I will admit, I’ve never read “Pet Semetary” by Stephen King or “Dracula” by Bram Stoker, but wanted to save both of these horror classics for the festivities. Below will be the titles to look for during the next couple of weeks that I’ll post reviews about:

Ninth House (Alex Stern #1): by Leigh Bardugo

A young woman is given a miraculous chance of attending an Ivy league school to investigate it’s secret societies, but is in for a shock at the sinister plans she may discover…

Project 17: by Laurie Faria Stolarz

A group of kids break into an old, abandoned insane asylum in order to record a short video for a film contest, but things take a turn for the worse when they realize they’re not alone…

The Woman in the Window: by A.J. Finn

A woman with a passion for classic film noir, and suffers from agoraphobia, suddenly feels like she’s in her own Hitchcock movie when she see’s a neighbor murdered within their house, but no one believes her…Was it a lie? Was it all fake, or is that just what a killer wants her to think?

Two Can Keep A Secret: by Karen McManus

Sometimes we have secrets that we’d rather keep buried. In a luxurious small town with a mysterious history of disappearances and secrets, a young girl and her friends must find a missing person and stop a murderous tradition that her family is oh so familiar with…

Vicious (Villains #1): by V.E. Schwab

Former college roommates and best friends Eli and Victor made a terrible discovery during their senior thesis science experiment. Years later, Victor breaks out of prison in order to exact his revenge; who will still be alive when the dust has cleared?…

Dracula: by Bram Stoker (with Ben Templesmith’s Illustrations)

An OG horror story for the ages; a man is sent to a looming castle in Transylvania and comes face to face with the Count himself, and must save his wife before the King of vampires can carry out his sinister plans…

Pet Semetary: by Stephen King

A man moves to a rural home in Maine with his family and pet cat, but with an indian burial ground near the cemetery filled with people’s pets of the past, some things don’t like to stay buried…

There you go, it sounds like some pretty fun titles are coming your way! Which ones sound better to you? Are there other titles you’d recommend? What are your favorite horror or thriller books to read? Let me know, I love to hear other people’s recommendations!

While I have you here, be sure to check out some book reviews I already have posted below! Why not look into some more creepy, twisted tales?

Click HERE to see my book review for Stephen King’s “IT”

Click HERE for my book review of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None.”

Click HERE for my book review of Riley Sager’s “The Last Time I Lied.”

Click HERE for my book review of Taylor Adams’ “No Exit.”

Click HERE for my book review of Claire Legrand’s “Sawkill Girls.”

Click HERE for my book review of Shari Lapena’s “An Unwanted Guest.”

Click HERE for my book review of Colleen Hoover’s “Verity.”

Thanks for Reading!

–Nick Goodsell


My Review: And Then There Were None: by Agatha Christie

***All info is for the this edition***
Publish Date: May 3rd 2004
Number of Pages: 264 Pages
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Genre(s): Mystery

Total Star Rating: 4 Stars

The mystery to inspire many mysteries, And Then There Were None is perhaps the masterpiece of the Queen of mystery herself, Agatha Christie. Never before has a murder mystery novel like this been referenced as much as it has, even almost 70 years later, and no writer ever can quite match the harsh, blunt and rigid words of Agatha Christie and her dark tales.

This book is no different. it’s not soft, or warm, and it’s about as charming as a graveyard. It’s strange yet fascinating how the author was able to tell such iconic tales with the level of simplicity that she brought. if you look at most of her work, you see that they aren’t exactly thick pieces of literature. You could easily read her works in one sitting, and I appreciate the fact about it is that it’s because the author was so no nonsense, and just got straight to the point in her style of writing. Despite the light amount of pages and her delicacy with her prose, her stories are so dark an harrowing, they rarely allow yourself to get comfortable. As soon as you even begin to stop and catch your breath, something happens that takes the rug out from beneath your feet, the floor crumbles and takes you out and forces you forward, deeper into the depths with no hope of seeing light ever again.

What It’s About:

Ten Strangers end up on a small island off the coast of England, all at the invitation of a reclusive and eccentric millionaire who none of them know. Even as they all arrive, they begin to wonder what could possibly be the reason that brought this random assortment of people together? Each person seems to be hiding something, keeping everyone at a safe distance, and figure out why they’re all there.

A framed nursery rhyme called “Ten Little Soldiers” (or titled something else, based off what edition you read) is hung in every guest’s room, and the dining room table set with ten little figures. Later that night while all attending a dinner party and awaiting the arrival of their host, a gramophone recording plays out and reveals a terrible deed that every person has been involved with. It turns out that they’ve all been accused of murder, and so very few of them are actually willing to admit it.

Shortly after, the first guest dies, poisoned by cyanide.

The next morning, another is found dead, and the weight of their situation fully dawns upon all of them; someone on the island wants them all dead. The millionaire never existed, and someone tricked all of them to come onto the island so that they could kill off each and every one of them with very little chance of escape or rescue. No one has left or entered the island, so the killer is one of them. The even creepier part? Every death follows the nursery rhyme that constantly shows up amongst the paranoia, the rage, and the fear:

Ten little Soldier Boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little Soldier Boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight little Soldier Boys traveling in Devon;
One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little Soldier Boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.

Six little Soldier Boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.

Five little Soldier Boys going in for law;
One got in Chancery and then there were four.

Four little Soldier Boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

Three little Soldier Boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.

Two little Soldier Boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Soldier Boy left all alone;
He went out and hanged himself and then there were none…

Every time theres a new victim, a figure on the dining room table mysteriously vanishes along with them. No one is safe, everyone has a price to pay, and soon, all of them could fall victim to this unknown terror. They accuse each other of being the killer; the only ones innocent are those that are already dead. Can they figure it out before they’re all dead by morning?

What I liked:

  1. The Sheer Creepiness Factor! The factor of the nursery rhyme is sheer genius. I don’t know what kind of nursery tale talks about killing people, but the fact that its used so much in the story and referenced often is so freakin’ creepy. The idea of someone actually coming up with ways to kill people that matched up to the rhyme is also absolutely terrifying. How they’re executed, and how the victims are selected for each act is unknown, but still, it’s something that could keep someone up at night just thinking about how it was all done.
  2. No Clues Whodunnit! There are hardly any clues that the author gives out to allow readers to try and figure out who was behind all the gruesome murders. It felt like even self professed “Murder Mystery Pro’s” wouldn’t be able to figure it out based on what the author gives them within the pages. The only thing you can really do is ride it out and wait to see the big reveal of who was the killer after all, as sad and depressing as it sounds.
  3. The Dark Characters! Agatha Christie doesn’t waste time getting attached to her characters. Each and every one of them are morally dark characters; only a very select few have some lighter, redeeming qualities. It helps in adding tension to the story and keeps you from ever having any idea is behind all of it. The only character who seems truly likeable in any regard is Vera Claythorne, but even that isn’t all that secure as you read on and wonder if she was ever truly sorry for the crime that she committed. In fact, the moral lesson of this story makes me think about the dark side of our society and how we all are guilty to some degree, and whether we can admit it to ourselves, or keep it hidden and hide behind facades that we create for ourselves.
  4. How Short It Is! How is it that such an iconic story is so short? While I’m someone who usually loves well round, developed characters and a well thought out world, Agatha Christie doesn’t waste time with any of that. She doesn’t need to give out a ton of background information to explain her characters and their moral code, and it works. Its simple, its no nonsense, and straight to the point, and its quite successful without any non essential information anyways.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The Characters Kept Splitting Up…Whenever there’s a killer in the house, in any sort of horror setting, when is it ever a good idea to split up? It’s pretty much asking for the killer to come find you, making it so much easier for them to kill them off one by one. If I was in this situation, I’d freakin’ barricade myself in my room, away from all these other crazy mofo’s and possibly adding to the chances of me making it out alive. Sure, it doesn’t make for all that great of a story, but logic triumphs over entertainment!


Overall, this is perhaps the most referenced murder mystery of all time, And Then There Were None is perhaps a title that sticks with readers more than any other. It’s bleak and dark tone haunts you for days afterward, filling you with dread and remorse and questioning everyone that comes into contact with you. It’s not a happy book by any means, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to read.

I also have to mention that other than reading this book, I highly recommend checking out the BBC 3-part special thats based off the book. It’s so wonderfully done; the cinematography is a work of art that expertly captures the essence and tone of this book even all these years later with an amazing cast to breathe new life into these characters. It stars Maeve Dormody, who I’ll admit I have idea who she is, but she played the role of Vera terrifically. There’s also Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister from Game of Thrones), Aidan Turner (Kili from The Hobbit Trilogy), and Sam Neill (Grant from Jurassic Park).

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell