The Last Party – Clare Mackintosh

Published By: Sphere
Pages: 448
Released On: 04/08/2022

On New Year’s Eve, Rhys Lloyd has a house full of guests.

His lakeside holiday homes are a success, and he’s generously invited the village to drink champagne with their wealthy new neighbours. This will be the party to end all parties. But not everyone is there to celebrate. By midnight, Rhys will be floating dead in the freezing waters of the lake.

On New Year’s Day, DC Ffion Morgan has a village full of suspects.

The tiny community is her home, so the suspects are her neighbours, friends and family – and Ffion has her own secrets to protect. With a lie uncovered at every turn, soon the question isn’t who wanted Rhys dead…but who finally killed him.

In a village with this many secrets, a murder is just the beginning.

*****

*Contains Spoilers*

This was a very hard book to review without spoilers. And whilst I will try my utmost not to explicitly give away the ending, I will suggest that if you haven’t read it or you don’t want to know the ending, then don’t read this review, as there may be some bits in it that spoil the mystery element – and after all, that’s what a murder mystery is all about.

I practically did nothing yesterday except read this book. I potted around, letting the dog out, making lunch, greeting the postman etc. but apart from that, I was glued to the sofa from about 8.30am to 2pm, devouring this from s tart to finish before I even contemplated doing anything particularly useful with my day.

I loved the way it was written. It’s not a regular pattern, but the overall pattern seems to be 1 or 2 chapters set in the present with the two police officers, and then 1 or 2 chapters set in the past, with each chapter being from a separate point of view, and each chapter going further back into the past. The way I’ve described it sounds confusing, but it really isn’t. it’s clear and simple and you immediately understand why she’s chosen that format – it allows her to drip clues throughout the whole book to keep you off guard.

There is a large number of important characters – Ffion, Leo, Dee, Bobby, Ashleigh, Mia, Rhys, Seren, Caleb, Tabby, Felicia, Glynis, Ceri, Angharad, Yasmin, Elen, Huw, Steffan, Jonty, Bluthe, Clemmie, DI Crouch (and I hope I haven’t missed anyone out) – that’s a lot of people to keep on top of, and normally I would immediately dislike the book who decides to throw this many people in, but somehow Clare has made it as simple as if you were reading about 2 or 3 people. I think what helps is that she truly knows every single on of her characters. They’re so well developed, none of them stray into caricature realm, and they’re all believable. I think she really excels at making them all seem like ‘normal’ people. Very rarely are murders and other serious crimes committed by obviously ‘abnormal’ people, it’s normally a neighbour, a friend, a relative, a colleague; someone you would never suspect of doing something like that. And that’s what adds to the thrilling element of this book.

I was thinking throughout the book whether Clare had any experience herself of police work and it turns out she does. I thought everything just sounded so right that it seemed impossible to come from just research alone, you had to have some first-hand experience to write about policing like this.

It says “the first DC Morgan mystery” on the front which means I can be pretty confident – and very excited – that there will be at least one more story, hopefully many more. The partnership of Ffion and Leo is fabulous. They’ve got great chemistry as friends and partners. It’s not a traditional good cop/bad cop situation, but they do have different personalities and different working styles that compliment each other, and I think they could be included in some of the best fictional detective written.

Yes it is fiction and it is written for entertainment purposes, but there’s a lot to unpick here. Could you take someone’s life? What if it meant protecting someone you love? What if they’d hurt someone you love? Where is the line for you? Could you turn your back on your own loved ones for the right thing?

There’s a quick one-line review inside the dust jacket that says “you’ll never guess whodunnit” – and a truer word has never been spoken. There’s twists and turns and red herrings all over the shop. Everyone has a motive and they’re all genuine motives, not just thrown in to lead the reader on a merry chase. It conceivably could be any of them. And just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, she throws not just the spanner into the works, but the entire toolbox.

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