Review: The Guest List

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Genre: Thriller
Maturity Level: 5
Content Warnings: self-harm, suicide, abortion
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆

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?

I guess it is just time for me to finally admit that I don’t like thrillers and just give up on the genre. If I didn’t like this one, I’m not going to like any of them.

On paper The Guest List should have been riveting. I love the closed-door mystery feel, the wedding-setting, when everything comes together right at the end, how so many people have a motive but the one you least suspect is the murderer. The reality was that I figured the whole thing out after about 150 pages, only the details were less macabre than I predicted.

I suppose that’s the thing, you’re supposed to read a thriller in one sitting, because if you stop to think about it they’re often so predictable. Thrillers rely on fast-paced storytelling to obscure the details.

I also hated all the characters and their rich people problems.

Objectively I see that this is a well constructed, interesting book. I think that thrillers just aren’t something I personally enjoy. Which is too bad, because I want to like them, and I think this story is probably super exciting. Oh well.

8 thoughts on “Review: The Guest List

  1. I always want to love thrillers but have gotten too familiar with the patterns of them, I think. The fun of guessing who the killer is and who else will die is a major draw for me, but it’s so disappointing to figure it out too early. I had better luck with Foley’s The Hunting Party but wasn’t quite excited enough about the writing and characterization to pick up The Guest List… What worked for me with The Hunting Party was that Foley didn’t reveal the identity of the killer OR the murdered person until late in the game, and having to guess both at once actually managed to keep me on my toes. Does The Guest List follow a similar structure, or is it more straightforward?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it was the same. You don’t know who the victim is until pretty close to the end. But you can start feeling what direction it’s going in pretty quick. And I accidentally saw a spoiler when I was checking how many pages there were, so that didn’t help.

      Liked by 1 person

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