Mystery/Thriller

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.

Conclusion:

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

Mystery/Thriller

My Review: An Unwanted Guest: by Shari Lapena

Publish Date: July 26th 2018
Number of Pages: 290 Pages
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Genre(s): Mystery

Total Star Rating: 2.75 Stars

While it’s nothing exactly new to the Mystery/Thriller genre, this book is still an entertaining addition that I think a lot of readers can enjoy. I’d say it’s become a bit of a mystery trope for a small cast of strangers to come together, and for someone to begin to murder them one by one (The Agatha Christie trope perhaps?). Figuring out the secrets of all the characters, along with their motives if they were to be exposed as the killer is something that I consider so much fun about mysteries; it’s amazing to see how it still works even all these years later, even when Agatha Christie’s work was first published in 1920. You guys…that’s almost a an entire century as I type this, so I find that absolutely amazing!

What It’s About:

The story takes place entirely at a small, beautiful, remote hotel in the middle of the woods in upstate New York. Cell Service is limited, and there’s no wifi, its the perfect place for people to go to literally escape the hustle and bustle of their lives, relax, and truly enjoy themselves. It’s the middle of an incredibly cold and dreary winter, and a deadly blizzard just over the horizon as 11 guests all converge there for the weekend, not knowing the horror they are about to experience…

The blizzard hits and the power goes out with absolutely no way to contact anyone for help, so all the guests bunker in and expect to patiently wait it out. People had all arrived for different reasons: to escape, to have their own writing retreat, a romantic couples weekend; everyone just wanted to enjoy the soothing, rustic experience that the hotel usually offers.

When the first body shows up at the foot of the grand staircase, everyone assumes its an accident, well, almost everyone. When the second body appears later that afternoon, panic begins to set in, but then a third body shows up and all hell breaks loose. Someone there is slowly killing the guests trapped in the hotel one-by-one, and it’s either someone who’s snuck in, or it’s possibly one of them, but who? They’ll need to band together and find out before the storm wears off and they’re all dead by the end of the weekend…

What I Liked:

  1. Homage to the Queen of Mystery! This book is a classic “whodunnit” style murder mystery, and felt very much like an Agatha Christie novel. The Original Queen of Mystery always wrote her mysteries in a similar fashion; bring a cast of characters together, have them become isolated from the outside world somehow, let them all have dirty secrets that they don’t want exposed, and let one of them be a murderer, and keep the mystery short.
  2. The Buildup! The suspense steadily and purposefully rose in excellent fashion as the story developed. I love a good “whodunnit” style mystery, and it’s always so much fun to try and figure out who the killer is, and try to decipher any clues you might think pop up that the author reveals. I’d say the story is also character driven, and the paranoia and unrest that escalates the suspense was done so well, your curiosity will get the best of you!
  3. The Little Surprise Included in the Ending! Not to give much away, but it’s something that the author had hinted at several times in the book, and I found the whole thing amusing, as amusing as a fictional murder twist can get.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Lack of Details…For me, this is specifically for the characters. There’s such little descriptions of them and what they look like, I found myself frustrated with trying to remember all of them and what they may appear as with so little given for me to work with. I’m a face person, not a name person!
  2. Disappointed in the Climax…The buildup was actually impressively done, but then you get to the climax, the killer is revealed…and I found myself put out by it. I was a little disappointed, plus the reveal was something no one could have figured out because the author didn’t give any of the information to help you figure it out until afterwards. I get that some mystery authors do that on purpose, Agatha did it too, but this one just really fell flat for me. I wished the author maybe thought of something a little more clever about how to tie it all together.

Conclusion:

A fun, thrilling, quick mystery for anyone to enjoy; it’s not too graphic or gory detailed, and the characters become an interesting bunch. The buildup is probably what was done best, and you yourself start to feel the paranoia at how little is revealed until it is almost too late. Personally, I was very disappointed in the ending and found it underwhelming compared to the rest of the book, but that’s just me. Perfect for fans looking for an Agatha Christie-esque mystery; this books is fun, modern, but not nearly as impressive of a take on the style that made the OG Queen of Mystery so iconic.

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell