If you follow this blog, you’ll know I’m a fan of locked-room style murder mysteries – and the Cornish setting for this one made it a must-read.
Thirteen guests. One killer. No escape. On an island on the coast of Cornwall, cut off from the mainland by the tides for most of the day, thirteen old friends meet at Tregowan Castle for a weekend of revelry. By the next evening only twelve are still alive. amongst them is a killer – but who? As a storm traps them on the island and past betrayals and grievances are revealed, nerves fray and friendships begin to fracture.
But with no escape and no way of calling for help, it’s only a matter of time before the killer strikes again. And when everyone is keeping secrets, anybody could be the next victim.
I was intrigued from the start by these deliciously awful characters, the hints at secrets and grudges, and the promise of a reckoning.
Thirteen sounded like a lot of people to keep in my head but some of these characters have more minor roles and the unlucky number was perfect for a Halloween story. The author does such a fantastic job at creating distinctive, memorable personalities I never had to check back to see who was who.
Wealthy “gorgeous hummingbird” Rachel, plain-speaking, alcoholic Vicky, fixer and smoother-outer editor Gita and shy artist Jane are old university friends. Two decades on, Rachel has become Lady Tregowan, having married octogenarian Ross. She invites her old friends and their families to a Halloween party weekend at her new home, a castle on an island that’s easy to picture as St Michael’s Mount. But it seems this celebration might be more about settling old scores.
There’s also the question of what happened to Ross’s wife? And how do his two children feel about having a new stepmother who’s the same age as them?
There’s never a dull moment in this book. I loved the entangled relationships and shocking reveals. Very much in the style of The Guest List by Lucy Foley, AM Castle’s story is uniquely entertaining, full of peppery comments and bitchy observations that make it impossible to put down. Is Rachel just gloriously tactless when she remarks on Raff’s appearance or Jane’s past? Or does she have evil intentions? What is the “big reveal” she has planned?
The setting is superb, especially when combined with a violent storm that takes away any chance of escape. The castle is “Hogwarts gone mad” with tapestries and chandeliers, surrounded by treacherous rocks. Throughout, I was thinking this would make a fabulous television programme.
I didn’t guess the killer – I could have believed any of the characters had done it – but when everything was explained at the end it made perfect sense.
If you loved The Guest List by Lucy Foley, The Murder Game by Rachel Abbott, and And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, my guess is that you’ll love this too.
The Invitation is published by HQ Digital. The ebook is available now and the paperback comes out on May 27, available here.