Clare Mackintosh | The Last Party

The Book:

The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh (Book of the Month)
Published: August 2022 by Sourcebooks Landmark

Torrie’s Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Plot (Goodreads):

At midnight, one of them is dead.
By morning, all of them are suspects.

It’s a party to end all parties, but not everyone is here to celebrate. 

On New Year’s Eve, Rhys Lloyd has a house full of guests. His vacation homes on Mirror Lake are a success, and he’s generously invited the village to drink champagne with their wealthy new neighbors.

But by midnight, Rhys will be floating dead in the freezing waters of the lake. 

On New Year’s Day, Ffion Morgan has a village full of suspects. The tiny community is her home, so the suspects are her neighbors, friends and family—and Ffion has her own secrets to protect.

With a lie uncovered at every turn, soon the question isn’t who wanted Rhys dead…but who finally killed him.

In a village with this many secrets, murder is just the beginning.

How did The Last Party end?

Click here for book spoilers for The Last Party
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read The Last Party, I suggest you turn back now.

Since this book had so many characters, I think it’ll be easiest to break the spoilers down into bullets for each character.

Dee Huxley

  • She owns Number 36, a brothel, where Rhys is a frequent customer.
  • She is well aware that Rhys physically assaulted one of the women at her club, and believes that isn’t the only time he has been abusive.
  • She threaten’s Rhys with this knowledge and keeps an eye on him.

Bobby & Ashleigh Stafford

  • They have already planned to divorce, but needed to wait a bit for the right media moment
  • Bobby is having an affair with Mia Williams, a friend of Ffion’s and the maid for The Shore Resort. Their relationship lasts and they are together at the end of the book

Jonty & Blythe Charlton

  • Jonty is having an affair with Yasmin Lloyd, Rhys’ wife.
  • Jonty is drugging his difficult children when he is in charge of bedtime, in order to get them to sleep

Leo Brady

  • Leo is the British detective assigned to the case.
  • He is currently fighting for custody of his son, but his ex-wife has a poorly times audio tape of his son. When Leo saw a highly dangerous and wanted criminal on the street, he left his son in the car to pursue the criminal. He was seen as a hero at work for taking down the criminal, but his son being left alone in the car was seen as a bad look as a father.
  • He gains partial custody and seems to have a possible relationship with Ffion blossoming at the end.

Rhys Lloyd

  • He really wasn’t a good guy.
  • He was flirting with underage girls, including Seren. Once he figures out the Seren might be his daughter, he contacts Ffion. Ffion confirms it, but threatens him to leave Seren alone. Rhys is sick to his stomach that he flirted with his own daughter
  • Rhys spent most of the Resort money on personal expenses, including the Number 36 brothel.

Glynis Llyod

  • Rhys’ mother, who knew he was out of control.
  • She killed Rhys when she realized that he was Seren’s father and that he had raped Ffion. She realized he was out of control and it was the only way to stop him. She might not have fully wanted to kill him.

Clemmie & Caleb Northcote

  • Clemmie finds Glynis over Rhys’ dead body, and offers to help dispose of the body. She does this for herself, because she had a secret payment agreement with Rhys, and his death means she will not need to pay for her resort cottage any more.
  • Clemmie feels a pulse on Rhys, but lets him die, lying to Glynis that he is already dead. Clemmie swims out to the boat and makes Glynis help drop his body out in the lake.
  • Caleb’s story was pretty lackluster. He got into a lot of trouble in London, so his mother brought him to the Shore to get him away from it. He’s been selling drugs since he got to the Shore. This is the red herring that I mention in my review really irked me.

Ffion, Elen & Seren Morgan

  • Seren is really Ffion’s daughter. When Rhys was a visiting mentor when she was in high school, he raped her. Elen convinced Ffion to let her raise Seren. Elen didn’t know the paternity until the winter of Rhys death.
  • Seren finds this out after she had already been working for Rhys and flirting with him, and after his death.
  • Rhys death wasn’t entirely explained by Glynis and Clemmie’s stories, as he was still incapacitated (but not drunk) at the time of the attack. Ffion finds evidence of the drugs in her mother’s house. She realizes her mother drugged him earlier in the day, which is why the single blow killed him. This was very lucky (and not addressed) because Rhys rarely answered his own fan mail, and the poison was delivered on an envelope. Seren could have accidentally gotten poisoned.
  • Ffion hides this evidence in the lake and protects her mother.

Torrie’s Review:

Where to begin!? This book had SO MANY CHARACTERS. I really enjoyed it, and couldn’t guess what was going to happen, but I was a bit confused at first by the sheer number of people to keep straight. I felt that Clare Mackintosh did a fantastic job of using red herrings to divert the reader’s attention in multiple directions, which is why the ending was hard to guess.

I had a few issues with some unnecessary characters and/or their related red herrings. I don’t want to spoil it, but one felt like it was left as a loose end, and even if the author did plan for it to have much impact, it really irked me that this character’s story felt incomplete.

Additionally, I struggled with the fact that we got every character’s POV, yet they were “lying to themselves” in order for us to not know the full story. I felt that the author almost accomplished this, expect with Ffion. She is too prominent a figure, and early on she’s clearly hiding something (or many things), but it felt dishonest that her thoughts were clearly lies. I understand that people lie to themselves often, but how often do people erase video tape of themselves and fail to think about why they are erasing said video? This wasn’t the worst example of this, and Clare Mackintosh almost gets away with it (read my review of One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline to see a much worse example of this). It would be really interesting to read this book if Ffion’s POV was excluded. Most of her actions and thoughts could be portrayed by Leo, and the lack of her POV could add increased intrigue.

While my review is more critique than positive, I really did enjoy this book and found the mystery to be engaging and challenging to guess. I read this book quickly, and would highly recommend it. It is always a sign that I like a book, when I plan to keep it instead of swapping it through – and this one is a keeper!

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