Thursday 4 August 2022


Book review: The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh

I recently read Hostage, my first Clare Mackintosh novel, and I was completely gripped throughout this page-turner, not seeing some of the revelations coming at all. So I was thrilled to discover that not only do I have a fairly extensive back catalogue by the author to catch up on, a new novel was coming out just weeks after I finished the last one: The Last Party
Rhys Lloyd is the biggest star the small town of Cwm Coed in Wales has ever produced. He used to be a well-known performer on the English screen and stage, but in recent years his career has stalled. To fund his lifestyle, he returns to his Welsh roots and uses the land he's inherited from his family to build holiday homes on the town's picturesque lake. 

There is some friction, however, between the villagers and those who purchased the homes. To bring the two groups of people together, and alleviate some of the animosity, Rhys hosts a big new year's bash in the lakeside resort. By midnight, he's dead.

As he died under suspicious circumstances on the Welsh and English border, both DC Ffion Morgan from the North Wales Police and DC Leo Brady from Cheshire Major Crime Unit are put on the case. The tension between the Welsh and English only getting worse as the two already have some history...

I don't usually gravitate towards police procedurals. They often veer into the more gritty side of crime, and that's not for me. Instead, I prefer a good Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery, filled with clever puzzles and red herrings. A story that makes the reader think, and a part of the investigation, rather than recounting the crime scene in every gruesome detail. 

Despite the DCs central to the story, The Last Party definitely feels more like a classic whodunnit than a Nordic crime noir. With nearly every character a suspect in the murder investigation, there are plenty of misdirections to keep the readers on their toes. 

While the start of the novel was a bit more of a slow-burner (understandably so as the setting and vast cast of characters were introduced), once we hit this midway point it becomes an absolute page-turner that readers will find difficult to put down until they get to the satisfying conclusion. Author Clare Mackintosh's storytelling is very compelling as she knows how to reveal just enough of her story to keep readers gripped, while not fully giving everything away and spoiling the ending. 

In fact, she cleverly keeps some of the biggest revelations under wraps, lulling the DCs (and her readers) into a false sense of security, until she drops some figurative bombs that turn the entire story on its head. At about the midway point I actually exclaimed "Oh my god" out loud, to no one, as I didn't see the change in direction coming at all. I love it when a book can take me by surprise like that. 

This is the first novel in what is set to be a series about Cwm Coed and DC Ffion Morgan – and I am already eagerly anticipating the next instalment. There are so many interesting and colourful characters in the small Welsh town that I feel are hiding more secrets than were revealed in The Last Party, that there is plenty of material for Clare Mackintosh to dig into. And I, for once, cannot wait!

The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh is published today by Sphere (part of Little, Brown) and you can purchase your copy now from your favourite book shop.

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me by the publisher, but this has not impacted this honest review.

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