By Lucy Foley
Rating: 5 Stars
Goodreads Rating: 3.85
Genre: Psychological Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: June 2nd 2020
Format Read: Libby Ebook
Goodreads Summary: The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body
On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.
But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.
And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?
Book Trigger Warnings (cursor over next line to read):
Self-harm, suicide, depression, abortion, murder
To get straight to the point, this was my favorite book that I’ve read all year. It was so flawlessly executed from top to bottom, and the mystery came together so effortlessly that I found myself gasping at each reveal.
The book is told from multiple perspectives– the bride, the plus one (the bride’s best friend’s wife), the bridesmaid (the bride’s sister), the best man (the groom’s best friend), and the wedding planner. I love books that are told from multiple perspectives, and this one was uniquely good in that I enjoyed each of the plotlines equally. Normally, there’s at least one character that I am bored by, and this wasn’t the case.
One of the reasons for that is because of the timeline the story was told. There was the “now” after we know that something very bad has happened, and then there is a “before”. The perspectives only change during the “before”, and every once in a while we flash up to third person for the “now”. During the “before” chapters, the book continues chronologically. For example, if the brides chapter ends at 1pm, the bridesmaid’s chapter will begin at 1pm. I enjoyed this because it felt like I was reading more of a continuous story, rather than 5 separate stories that happened to be being told together.
One of the major plots of the story is that the groom, Will, is not who he says he is. Nearly everyone in the story has some connection to Will, and has secrets that they share with only him. The characters also have secrets that they haven’t told anyone, and that they tell each other. Nothing is all laid out in the beginning. Instead, we get slow reveals that allow the reader to guess what is happening just ahead of the characters sharing the reveal for us.
All of the characters in the book were nuanced in a way that felt very real. Even the characters that I was actively rooting for had flaws that made me annoyed at them occasionally, or wish they had done things differently. I personally really enjoy this, I think a book is better when we don’t have a perfect hero. The author also did a fantastic job of developing the characters who didn’t get a narrator role.
I saw some criticism in other reviews that said that the plot only came together out of a series of coincidences. I agree this is true in one particular case (which I can’t reveal without ruining the mystery), but I thought the rest of the pieces came together with enough detail that it was not a coincidence at all. The coincidental plot still made sense in that it allowed the person to be there for other characters and also as a slight red herring. Because of that, it didn’t bother me at all, but if you don’t like any coincidences you’ll probably be annoyed by this.
The audiobook version was really fun to listen to. There were multiple readers, and men read for men and women read for women. This allowed me to really get into the characters and feel like it was happening.
I would say that this book is a must read for anyone who enjoys mysteries and thrillers. The book was just so well written and such a good slow burn reveal that I couldn’t put it down.