One of the best crime/thriller novels I’ve read this year is Lucy Foley’s The Guest List. And speaking of lists, this novel is on everyone’s list as one of the best crime/thriller novels of 2020, including Reese’s Book Club Pick!
What makes a book a crime/thriller as opposed to just a crime novel or a thriller? Well, a crime/thriller is obviously a synthesis of both.
In a crime novel, a crime has been committed, the reader knows what the crime is, and the criminal must be apprehended usually by the police or private eye. Crime novels work backward to reveal the identity of the criminal, and amassing clues toward that end drives the plot.
In a thriller, the plot centers around preventing future crimes.
In the crime/ thriller novel, the possibility of a future crime creates dread, suspense and anxiety, which are made even worse by the fact that the killer is very likely in the characters’ midst. Everyone is in danger. Unlike crime fiction where police or private eyes solve the crime, the characters in in a crime/thriller are on their own.
So why is Lucy Foley’s The Guest List such a stunning crime/thriller? So. Many. Reasons. Here are three.
Setting. On a remote island off the coast of Ireland in a castle where a celebrity wedding is to take place, glitzy, posh guests begin to arrive, carrying a lot more baggage with them than what’s in their suitcases. The waves batter the boats carrying friends and family of the bride and groom; a wild storm is brewing in the Atlantic. This is du Maurier’s Manderley on steroids.
Characters. All the bright and beautiful of London’s artsy set—the stunning perfectionist bride, a lifestyle magazine editor, her television star groom, and not just a few people who resent them and know their secrets. Any one of them could murder someone, so seething with rage and jealousy are they.
Plot twists and red herrings. This book will keep you guessing from page four (no spoilers here) to the last chapter. And that’s the real fun of these books, isn’t it?
Almost all reviews have mentioned Lucy Foley’s first novel The Hunting Party, saying they wouldn’t have believed she could have outdone that book. According to them, she has. So, The Hunting Party will definitely be on my TBR list.