Book Review Tuesday: The Guest List by Lucy Foley, Whisper Island by Carissa Ann Lynch #psychologicalthrillers #domesticthrillers

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Happy Tuesday! I have two books to share today, both in a similar vein—a group of people on a secluded island cut off from the mainland, a murderer among them. One of these books rocked my world and the other didn’t quite live up to the hype. Both, however, kept me entertained for hours. If you enjoy murder mysteries and psychological thrillers, you’ll want to check these out.

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BLURB:

A wedding celebration turns dark and deadly in this deliciously wicked and atmospheric thriller reminiscent of Agatha Christie from the New York Times bestselling author of The Hunting Party.

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?

MY REVIEW:

Lucy Foley has done it again! Keeping in vein with her novel, The Hunting Party, she serves up a similar whodunit. The prime ingredients in both books are an isolated location, treacherous weather, and a group of characters with plenty of skeletons rattling in proverbial closets.

For The Guest List, Foley presents the marriage of two pseudo celebrities. Jules is the publisher of a trendy magazine and Will is the star of a reality TV series. Together these two make the perfect couple—attractive, glamorous, and wealthy. For their wedding, they invite guests to a remote island off the coast of Ireland. Think rugged cliffs, crashing waves, the ruins of a stone chapel, and a cemetery dotted with Celtic crosses. The setting is exquisite, wonderfully played for mood that is both over the top glamorous, yet darkly sinister. I loved how a cave along the shoreline and the sightings of cormorants added creepy atmosphere.

The story is told in multiple first person POV (I had no problem keeping track of whose head I was in), along with scattered chapters of omniscient. It’s a little slow to get off the ground, but after a few chapters—WOW! Trust me, you’ll want to stick with it.

The cast of characters is an intriguing mix—the bride, her younger sister, the groom with his frat buddies and polar-opposite best man, the caterer and her husband who are just launching their business, the plus-one and her husband…who just happens to be the bride’s best friend.

When a body turns up, Foley keeps the identity of the victim wrapped tightly until the end. Throughout, tensions simmer, tempers flare, and petty jealousies erupt. And erupt again. Entangling more and more people in the web. By the time the identity of the body is revealed, most everyone has a motive.

All of this undercutting and sniping is played against the backdrop of an impending storm and the extravagance of the wedding. I’m usually pretty good at fingering the culprit, and although I had suspicions that eventually proved correct, the whys and wherefores completely blindsided me. The plot threads are deftly woven, for a wholly satisfying and stunning conclusion.

If you like a combination of psychological thriller and whodunit murder mystery, this is a fabulous five-star read!

5 STARS

BLURB:

It was the perfect escape

Until one by one they vanished…

For friends Riley, Sam, Mia and Scarlett, their trip to Whisper Island, Alaska, was meant to be a once in a lifetime adventure – just four young women, with everything to live for…

But as soon as they arrive things start to go wrong.  First there is the unexpected arrival of Sammy’s drug addict brother and his girlfriend Opal – why are they here? 

And then the deaths begin. 

As the dream trip quickly turns into a nightmare, suspicion is high.  Are they really alone on the island?  Or is there a killer hiding in the shadows? 

And as each of the girls reveals a dark secret of their own, perhaps the truth is the killer is closer than they think…just a whisper away…

MY REVIEW:
This is an okay quick read. Four college friends, all artists, decide to vacation on a secluded Alaskan island for the summer to concentrate on their art. When they arrive, they discover the “mansion” where they thought they would be staying is a run-down relic. Other than a few outbuildings, it’s the only property on the island. Also unexpected—one of the girls’ drug-addicted brother is there, along with his latest girlfriend.

The story is told from alternating viewpoints of these six characters, all in first person. As the book progresses, the reader learns each of the characters has secrets tucked in their backgrounds. When murders start taking place, I settled in for an “And Then There Were None” Agatha Christie type story. Was there a killer on the island, or could the killer possibly be among them?

The book definitely held my interest and kept me flipping pages–despite an overabundance of internal (italicized). POV. That grew a little distracting. I enjoyed the story right up until the big reveal of the killer. Part of a mystery is trying to solve the puzzle yourself, but there weren’t enough clues peppered throughout for the ending to make sense. So, the “twist” really wasn’t a twist for lack of set up.

That aside, this is an easy read, a nice diversion if you want something quick. The author does an excellent job of crafting the spooky atmosphere of the island, and the last line of the book brought appreciation. I just wish there had been more set-up and backstory to make the identity of the killer belieavable.

3 STARS

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That’s it from me for today. I hope one of these books snagged your attention. I guess it’s pretty obvious which one I enjoyed better, but that’s the great thing about books–there is always something for everyone. As always, happy reading!

51 thoughts on “Book Review Tuesday: The Guest List by Lucy Foley, Whisper Island by Carissa Ann Lynch #psychologicalthrillers #domesticthrillers

  1. The ‘stuck on an Island with a killer’ premise does seem to have been done to death ( 😀 ) both in movies and books. But there’s only so many stories in the world so I suppose it’s how they’re told that counts. Glad you enjoyed them!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Guest List sounds wonderful. Reminds me of a miniseries I watched one summer years ago and was addicted to until the very last death. Shame about Whisper Island, though. The premise sounded promising.

    Thanks for the reviews.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Having just finished a similar psychological thriller, “The Guest List” sounds exciting. Whisper Island has popped up on my Book Bub recommendations, but I’ve been hesitant. I think I’ll probably skip that one.

    Nice reviews, Mae.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joan, I think that’s how I happened on Whisper Island–from my BookBub recommendations. I’d had The Guest List on my reading radar from the time it was released. It was only after I started reading it that I realized it was by the same author who wrote The Hunting Party, which I positively loved. Lucy Foley is now going on my auto-buy list!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I liked the Alaska setting, Priscilla. The author didn’t go into a lot of detail (other than for island itself), but it was different. She did a great job with her descriptions.

      Like

    • I NEVER tire of the murderer-among-us, trope, Kim. I think you would like this one. I’ve also read The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley, which was awesome. She’s going on my auto-buy list as of now. Two winners, and I’m a fan!

      Liked by 1 person

    • The Guest List was a brilliant read, Teri. It had been on my TBR for a while before I got around to it. Had I realized the author was the same one who wrote The Hunting Party I would have been all over it the moment it was released. I didn’t make the connection until I opened the book.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Terrific reviews, Mae. Thanks for sharing them. I have read a number of books where the so-called twist fell flat. It makes the reading of the book seem like a waste of time. Especially if it comes at the end of a long journey. Thanks for sharing. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • Whisper Island was good right up until the big reveal, John. I even really appreciated the last line of the book, but the way everything unfolded in the last quarter, along with the killer’s identity, just left me scratching my head. I would give this author another try, and hope for better. I did like her style, very easy and quick to read, but I couldn’t give it more than three stars.

      Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! I really loved The Guest List, Sue. It’s among my top reads of this year, but that doesn’t surprise me given it’s by the same author who wrote The Hunting Party. I think you’d like this one 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • The And Then There Were None is probably my favorite theme for a murder mystery, Noelle. The Guest List really had only one body, so it played a little differently, but the overall feel was the same. The author is now on my auto-buy list.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting reviews, Mae. Both sound promising, especially The Guest List. I appreciate that you do give honest reviews, and we need to remind ourselves that three stars is still a good review. They can’t all be five-star. Both sound like good reads.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Maura Beth! I’m so glad you said that. I consider three stars a fair review. A book I enjoyed having spent time with, but one that doesn’t have me doing cartwheels. 🙂
      They were both entertaining, but The Guest List is one I could see myself rereading at some point down the road.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oooh! What a great idea. I hope it’s optioned for the big screen (or even the little screen, LOL). I would so love to see The Guest List as a movie.
      Thanks for visiting, Jan!

      Like

  6. I’m an Agatha addict. You made The Guest List sound so good, I bought it. I’m into another Louis Kincaid right now, so it might be a while before I get to it, but I’m reaching the end of binges for some of my favorite authors and need to find some new ones. Fingers crossed I get lucky.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you’re enjoying Louis Kincaid, Judi. I think the books got better and better with each successive release. And I’m so excited you picked up The Guest List. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It was on my reading radar for a long time. When I finally did open it, I realized the author was the same one who had written The Hunting Party. That was another book I loved. Had I realized it was the same author, I would have devoured it the moment it came out. 🙂

      Happy reading with Louis and with The Guest List!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing these reviews, Mae. The Guest List sounds like one I’d really enjoy. I’m so behind on my reading list, but I’m going to try to find the time! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Guest List is an awesome book, Gwen. I highly recommend that one, but I understand how weighty the TBR pile can be. As much as I read, I feel like I never make a dent, LOL!

      Like

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