Tag Archives: Mystery

Though a bit dark,The Guest List has readers turning pages

Coincidentally, I’ve read two books in a row about destination weddings involving social media influencers. Extravagance and mayhem ensued.

Makes my wedding to my Beloved to which twenty guests were invited to my home and we served a Dairy Queen cake look cute and basic.

But at least no one died!

The same can’t be said about hoity-toity affair created by Lucy Foley in The Guest List: You’d Kill to Be On It.

This absorbing mystery novel is about the wedding of magazine publisher Jules Keegan and reality TV star Will Slater on a remote island off the coast of Ireland. Foley tells most of the story through the wedding-weekend experiences of five characters: the bride, the plus-one, the best man, the wedding planner and the bridesmaid. One of these characters is the murderer (I’m not spoiling anything here—the back cover reveals this).

What’s interesting about the mystery is we don’t know who the murder victim is until the end of the book. These two entwined mysteries—who is murdered and who is the murderer—will keep you turning pages, maybe until late into the night. And that’s all you can ask from a good mystery novel.

The book gets better after a lot of vague talk about secrets in the beginning. At first, I didn’t like a couple of the main characters, but their irritating behavior is explained as the book progresses, and I found the ending to be surprising and satisfying. Foley does a good job of moving the story along and tying the various storylines together, though she leaves a few plot holes and minor loose ends if you look too closely. Still, the plot holds water, and it’s fiction, so I didn’t get too worked up about it.

I read this for our family bookclub, which includes my aunt, uncle and cousins. The consensus was that Foley created good characters, but the story on the whole was a bit dark.

The Guest List reminded me a little of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Both Foley and Flynn worked out a lot of plot complexities before weaving things together, and I appreciate thinkers like that.

If you’re planning or invited to an exclusive destination wedding this summer, I recommend choosing something else to read on the plane (like a romance novel maybe).

‘Stylishly written,’ but not my style

Doc Ford is a man’s man, as described by at least one reviewer on Barnes & Noble.

Brilliant. Brave. Generally unemotional, even when blameless men are executed and fed to the sharks.

It is his amoral nature I object to. When he slept with two women in one night in Randy Wayne White’s debut novel in the Doc Ford series, Sanibel Flats, I was disgusted.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Sanibel FlatsI asked for and received Sanibel Flats for Christmas because I wanted to get a flavor for the series about the marine biologist detective set in Fort Myers, Fla., where I’ve vacationed countless times in order to enjoy my beloved Minnesota Twins in spring training.

This mystery features a complex and interesting plot, well-drawn characters and just enough violence to make it intense without being especially lurid (I would much rather read about a vulture pecking out a dead man’s eyes than actually see it). And gasp-out-loud surprises. You gotta love that in a mystery.

So Sanibel Flats has all the ingredients of a good novel. And I can see why there are 20 more tales in the series.

But I probably won’t be picking up The Heat Islands, despite the clever trail of crumbs White left readers to feed on in Sanibel Flats. I’m not a fan of mysteries in general, and I don’t like Doc Ford enough to care how he drifts through his less than honorable escapades. My perspective on such books mirrors Doc Ford’s view of bad news:

“He rarely looked at a newspaper. Didn’t understand the nation’s habit of clubbing itself each morning with a list of tragedy and doom before trying to go cheerfully into the day. Like arsenic, it had to have a cumulative effect.”