I’m delighted to join the blog tour and share my thoughts on The Last Resort, the latest novel from Susi Holliday. This is Susi’s first book with new publisher Thomas & Mercer and I was really looking forward to seeing what delights she had cooked up for us this time. Susi is appearing at December’s Virtual First Monday Crime so if you’d like to hear about. the novel directly from the author, check out First Monday Crime on Facebook, and make sure to be there on 7th December to hear all about it. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy of the book for review and to Sophie Goodfellow for inviting me to join the tour. Here’s more about the book.
About the Book
Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One perfect crime.
When Amelia is invited to an all-expenses-paid retreat on a private island, the mysterious offer is too good to refuse. Along with six other strangers, she’s told they’re here to test a brand-new product for Timeo Technologies. But the guests’ excitement soon turns to terror when the real reason for their summons becomes clear.
Each guest has a guilty secret. And when they’re all forced to wear a memory-tracking device that reveals their dark and shameful deeds to their fellow guests, there’s no hiding from the past. This is no luxury retreat—it’s a trap they can’t get out of.
As the clock counts down to the lavish end-of-day party they’ve been promised, injuries and in-fighting split the group. But with no escape from the island—or the other guests’ most shocking secrets—Amelia begins to suspect that her only hope for survival is to be the last one standing. Can she confront her own dark past to uncover the truth—before it’s too late to get out?
The more books of this nature I read, the happier I become that I haven’t been quite so able to take part in any of my planned holidays this year. I am also glad that, when I do go away, it is generally in this country and not to some fancy island getaway. Well, aside from the one I am on right now, obviously. To be fair, the holidaymakers in this particular twisted tale really should have stopped to wonder just what they were letting themselves in for given all the concessions they had to make in order to be allowed to travel. This is no ordinary holiday. This is no ordinary island. Living the life of luxury? Yeah. Not so much. Perhaps they should have read the small print just a little more closely …
From the beginning, as a reader, you know that something out of the ordinary is about to happen. Given the apparent mismatch of travellers on that teeny-tiny plane they start out on, you do have to wonder quite how they all ended up on the same journey in the first place. The more we read the more we realise just how abstract the personalities are, especially Amelia, the proverbial fish out of water. A gamer, an influencer, a health guru and venture capitalist, a photographer, a celebrity columnist and an aid worker. It will make for a very interesting trip. But then this is a Susi Holliday novel – their contrasting personalities will be the least of their problems.
The book is based in the world of future possibilities. In which the tech that some of them come to rely upon can also be the root of all their problems. The intrigue begins from the off, the seven of them thrown into an unpalatable situation which is a country mile from the luxury they expected. They must learn to trust one another if they want to make it to the end of the weekend, something that becomes increasingly harder for not only the characters but the readers the more we learn about each of them in turn. Secrets and lies abound – but which is the darkest of them all.
There is a kind of sci-fi element to the novel in terms of the trackers that the guests are fitted with when they first arrive on the island but whilst this is intrinsic to the plot, it doesn’t overwhelm the story. It is not about the tech, but it does inform and facilitate the action and leaves you wondering, ‘what if’? What the author has created here, albeit completely fictional, is not a million miles away from reality as scary as that seems and it adds a kind of tension to an already mystery and suspense laden read. That element of the story, combined with some carefully crafted characters who both intrigued and annoyed me, led me to power through the book in one afternoon, wanting to understand the big picture. Hints are dropped throughout, but it’s not easy to build a full picture until we reach the end of the story and it is certainly not clear who, if anyone, we can trust.
If you like a pacy, tense, intrigue infused read with a slightly tech-infused twist, then I would definitely recommend this book. One warning though – if you are easily triggered by flashbacks of the idiots who wore the early noughties bluetooth headsets over their ear, or even snakes, this may not be the book for you. Happy reading.
About the Author
Susi Holliday grew up near Edinburgh and worked in the pharmaceutical industry for many years before she started writing. A life-long fan of crime and horror, her short stories have been published in various places, and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham Prize. She is the author of seven novels, five of them written as SJI Holliday. You can find out more at her website, http://www.susiholliday.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SJIHolliday/ and on Twitter @SJIHolliday. She also provides coaching for new crime writers via http://www.crimefictioncoach.com.
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