Cover Image: The Last Guest

The Last Guest

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Member Reviews

DNF - Did not finish. I did not connect with the writing style or plot and will not be finishing this title. Thank you, NetGalley and Publisher for the early copy!
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Unfortunately this book was a bit bland.  It similar to playing the board game Clue.
I was given an advanced copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Definitely recommend this book to those who love a compulsively readable mystery with family drama.
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This one was a DNF for me.  I couldn’t connect or care about the characters.  The plot and format were also too similar to several books I have recently read.
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The Last Guest is like a warped version of the game of Clue. Who did it, with what weapon, in what room? And why?

This was such a strange book, from Richard having a pet octopus that escaped on more than one occasion, to a sinister dinner party-turned-murder investigation, to unsavory characters who all had atrocious secrets. The premise of this book is grand, I really had high hopes when I requested a copy of this book. But the delivery, the octopus, just everything about this book was kind of strange. 

First off, I think there were too many "main" characters. The dinner party had about 7 or 8 guests who all ended up suspects in Richard's murder investigation. Then there was Richard himself, his daughter Lillie, and his pet octopus Persephone. That is a LOT of characters to keep straight and remember who did what, and why. I personally think this book would have been easier to follow and connect with if the number of guests was limited to maybe 5 at the most. 

Second, I didn't like how the ending was brought together. (Yes, I know, I NEVER like endings, but bear with me...) While there was a likely suspect towards the end of the book, that wasn't actually the end. Even later in the book, like at the 90% mark, there was a "twist" that wasn't really a twist that basically just made me roll my eyes. It was too unbelievable, too contrived. It felt like the twist didn't fit anywhere else so it was thrown in at the end.

Overall, I liked the idea behind this book. I think it had a lot of potential to be really good, but it didn't quite hit the mark for me. This is a debut novel, and I will read more by this author in the future. There was nothing wrong with the book, I think it just needed to be a little more... condensed? 3 stars.
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My issue with this book is that I didn't care who did it.  When you're reading a murder mystery, you want to be trying to figure out what happened and who did it and how they did it, but there were too many suspects with too many details and too much inner dialogue and when you do find things out, you have to remind yourself who everyone is and you just don't really care at that point.
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This one was just not for me, I started it and about 15% in I just kept putting it down and thinking about other things. I couldn't get connected enough to care to finish.
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This was hard to read. I applaud the author on taking the dive with their debut title but this is just one I won't be able to recommend. With a little fine tuning and some practice I'm sure the next title will knock it out of the park!
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The Last Guest by Tess Little is the first book I have read by this author. A murder takes place during a small birthday dinner and everyone attending is a suspect. Secrets, Hollywood glamour and an octopus (yes, an octopus!) play a part in drawing the reader into the story.

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group- Ballantine and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this ARC.
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Tess Little's debut is a strangely weird literary mystery which opens with the discovery of the apparent OD'd death of British director, Richard Bryant, at his exclusive Hollywood home, Sedgwick, the morning after his raucous drink and drug fuelled 50th birthday party. For those that may harbour illusions that this is straightforward crime fiction, let me strongly disabuse you of this notion, if that is what you are looking for, steer well clear of this novel. Instead, this is an intelligent exploration of power, its abuse, exploitation and the parallels between Richard's ex-wife, Elspeth, and the Persephone of myth and legend. Persephone here is the all too smart eponymous octopus, controlled and owned by Richard, imprisoned in his aquarium, constantly trying to escape, but unable to do.

Elspeth arrives for the birthday party from New York, apprehensive, anxious, not looking forward to it, but expecting the presence of her 19 year old daughter, Lillie, and large numbers of others to ameliorate the painful experience. However, Lillie does not turn up and there are only a small number of guests, including Richard's current male partner and lover, Anton Honey Carlisle, his manager, Jerry Debrowski, schoolfriend, Tommo Coates, rich producer, Miguel Montana, cinematographer, Kei Nakamura, leading lady, Sabine Semi and young actor, Charles Pace. Evidence suggests that Richard has been murdered by one of the guests, and in a narrative that goes back and forth in time, it is slowly revealed how each of the guests have motive for wanting Richard dead, and we learn just how much of a monster the odious Richard was. Elspeth becomes obsessed with Persephone, entertaining the idea of Persephone being a murder suspect too.

Richard is a Harvey Weinstein type of figure, and Little explores the nature of why no-one is willing to be honest and open about what Richard was really like through the years, the NDAs, the fear, his financial generosity, the shame, and the raw power and influence that Richard wielded. Richard has addictions, is detestable, controlling, volatile, a perfectionist, not above blackmail, a master manipulator. Elspeth lies and lies about her marriage, to the police, to her daughter, Lillie, publicly proclaiming Richard as the best of men and husbands, when this is so far from the truth. What will it take for her to be truthful? This is a astute study of a abusive marriage, memory, perception, and how the blatant horrors and terrors of a nightmare Hollywood director are tolerated. Elspeth stays with Richard for Lillie, living in denial, with her confused and fractured memories, until the pressure and threats become too much. A brilliant and offbeat read.
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Well written with fantastic character development. I never could have predicted the end. What caught my eye was the cover! I look forward to reading more by this author.
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Vapid.  This is the word that stuck with me as I read this book. This book had so much promise,  an intimate party of 8 guests all gathered to celebrate the 50th of a famous Hollywood Director, and at the center an Octopus.  By the end of the night the director is dead and the mystery begins on who murdered him or did he simply overdose. The main character is Ellie, the ex-wife of Richard the Director and their daughter. Their lives are filled with lies, drugs, and abuse intertwining with the other dinner guests.  Richard's current partner, a child hood chum, the actor and actress from his current film along with the cinematographer, producer, and agent. The scenes switch between the dinner party, past events and current thoughts.  Ellie is not very likeable, the daughter is spoiled and the other players are vapid.  Richard was an evil drug addict who controlled everyone and everything by abuse or threat.  The events of the evening unfold slowly almost painfully as Ellie recalls the abuse she suffered and yet chose to continue to support Richard with loyalty because she needed to shield her daughter.  Her daughter it seems chooses the horrible father instead and Ellie, still doesn't fight. She arrives at this party with numerous opportunities to escape when she discovers that her daughter isn't going to show and yet she decides to stay and gets sucked in. She continuously lies, but mostly to herself.  There is even a creepy old woman thrown in who accosts Ellie out alone in a parking lot, blaming her for the death of Richard, and her daughter doesn't believe that the sweet old housekeeper would ever do that.  The story went around and around in circles with no real truth, no solving of what happened, only Ellie's memories of things, which to me cannot be trusted as truth. The only truth is that Richard was not a good person, and nobody lost anything with his death.
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Book received for free through NetGalley

Wasn't able to get into it and figured better to "not finish" then leave you waiting longer. 
 
Read 28% of the way into this book but kept starting and stopping. I had trouble getting into it and figured it was better to review as is. It was written well just not my cup of tea.
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I received this book from NetGalley publishers and I never read any from this author what caught my attention was the cover of the book.
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I so, so wanted to love The Last Guest by Tess Little.  It had a very promising premise.  Dinner party, 8 guests and the host winds up dead.  My biggest problem with the book was there were way too many suspects and it was very hard to keep track of who was who.  The next problem I had was the pacing of the story.  When my Kindle shows three hours until chapter 2 (!), it’s pretty much a deal breaker for me.  It gets very hard for me to keep turning the pages.  Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for the copy.  All opinions expressed are my own.
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Well written mystery that left me stunned. I guessed everyone but.... I alos liked the writing style. Thansk to NetGalley and the publisher!
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Intriguing plot, but you really have to pay attention because the book is a little hard to follow. I didn't love Elspeth character and really didn't like that she lied about her ex-husbands death. The suspense and mystery angles kept me turning the pages, but again it was a little hard to follow. I liked the ending, but I wasn't in love with it. I would recommend reading it.
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Did not finish.  The characters were all abhorrent from the start, and I couldn't care less what happened to any of them, especially the victim Richard.  I could not abide an octopus watching over the action, far too creepy.  The writing style was too jumpy, very unsettling, and not in a good way.  I wish the author the best in her next venture. 

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and author for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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The Last Guest is developed from the timeline after the murder and present day. No one is as they seem in this slow burn mystery. I would have liked to have gotten to know the characters more, but was still interested in the outcome. The story had elements of intrigue and brought up some extremely interesting theories of how Richard, the victim, was murdered. Thank you NetGalley and Ballantine Books for my copy.
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This would be thriller is reminiscent of the board game Clue. There were a few good aspects like the plot, but most of the book fell short. I felt like having so many main characters took away from the details. Once I was caught up on one character, it would jump to the next and it felt like the book was all over the place. Also, writing the book in the style of a play did not work for me. I didn't like the different "Acts" in the book, and only having Elspeth's POV was cumbersome. 

Thrillers like this usually have multiple POVs, but having 8 wouldn't be great either. I think that this novel had great potential but fell flat.
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I was given an advanced copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Definitely recommend this book to those who love a compulsively readable who dunnit story with a bit of family drama and unique parallels thrown in for good measure!
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