Imagine that you are rich and famous, and you are marrying someone rich and famous, and you can have your elaborate wedding anywhere in the world. Would you choose a beautiful Caribbean setting? Maybe a romantic wedding in the French countryside. Or a dark and spooky island on a cold beach off of Ireland, near a cemetery, where cell service is iffy and the frequent storms often cut off electricity?
Well, The Guest List, by Lucy Foley, features just those circumstances.
Jules is a beautiful and successful magazine editor. Her husband-to-be, Will, is the drop-dead (no pun intended) star of a reality television show. They choose this creepy island as their wedding site because of its uniqueness. Oh, it’s unique all right. Especially when the lights start flickering, there are strange noises in the night, and the next boat isn’t coming for days.
Readers learn very early that someone in the wedding party is killed, but aren’t told who the poor, unlucky person is. The story is then told through five different people: the wedding planner, Aoife; Jule’s half sister Olivia, who is her maid of honor; Will’s best man, Johnno; Hanna, the wife of Jule’s best friend Charlie; and Jules herself. As they tell their tales and make their observations, readers learn how the five are all intertwined, and why they all have reason to kill the murdered victim. Readers are fed hints throughout the book.
About three-quarters of the way through the book, if you haven’t figured out who the murder victim is, you need to go back to Agatha Christie 101 class. If you still haven’t figured it out, readers are given that answer. But as to which one of the group had finally had it up to here? That was something I didn’t solve. It’s not that the ending came as a complete surprise, since there were only a limited number of potential suspects, but it really could have been any one of them. In fact, since the plot was compared to that of the inimitable Agatha Christie, it occurred to me that it might have a Murder on the Orient Express solution. It didn’t.
Though the book had flaws, overall, I enjoyed reading it.