If there’s such a thing as the perfect whodunit, this is it. I absolutely loved this one. It’s got everything: suspense to the very end, deliciously complex characters with mysterious motives, a lavish and exotic setting, and terrific writing. The setting is an island “wedding venue” off the coast of Ireland where a handsome movie star groom is about to marry a gorgeous posh publisher/website owner bride. It begins with an investigation underway, something about a “body” only it’s not clear if a murder has taken place or even a dead body found. Perhaps someone only reported seeing a body or someone went missing.
Then the back stories begin. We learn the groom and most of his ushers are all “Trevellians,” having attended the same prep school, one of those bully-filled Lord of the Flies type places. The rather dim best man did too, but he was there on a rugby scholarship and wasn’t “one of the boys,” being too rough and from a poor background. The bride and her sister have a strained relationship. The sister seems to have a screw loose and is a cutter. The bride demands everything be perfect and is more than a little demanding. Something bad happened at the stag party but we don’t know what. The wedding planner, an attractive woman who runs the venue, seems mismatched to her fat husband but is the soul of efficiency. There’s way too much drinking, some dangerous peat bogs, a raging storm, crumbling cliffs. What could possibly go wrong?
The stories are told by all the characters in turn and we learn that not all is right beneath all the lavish perfection. We begin to learn who the likely candidates are for victim and who has motives against each. The author skillfully manages to keep from us whether anyone died, and, if so, who it might be until almost the very end. The responsible party or parties for whatever happened is revealed only at the absolute end, and it caught me by surprise. The suspense was delicious.
This belongs to that genre of mystery that is not quite a locked-room mystery since the crime doesn’t seem impossible, and it’s not a pure whodunit where we follow along with an investigator. It resembles the classic game Clue where a body is found and the suspects are all together in a closed location like, for example, Murder on the Orient Express, but without the Poirot equivalent. The characters/suspects/victim tell the story themselves. I listened to the audiobook and the actors were just marvelous.