Cover Image: The Last Guest

The Last Guest

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Member Reviews

A solid debut novel, a thriller which is page-turning but the plot was lacking and there were too many characters to keep track of. Wasn’t what I wanted, but enjoyed the ride.
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Despite the Agatha Christie influence, the too slow narrative bogged down pace and ultimately lost my interest. Grateful, still, to the author, Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine, and NetGalley for the ARC; opinions are mine.
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I enjoyed this one as an audio book. I didn't really feel the star power of this story. It was easy to think of them as rich but not necessarily famous. I liked the twists, as the MC talks to her daughter and other suspects and slowly untangles her own confusing memories.

I liked that I just rolled with the story and didn't try to figure out who actually did it. I liked the information about the little octopus in the room and how Elsbeth seemed to use it to unfree herself of the memories and moments she'd crammed down, hidden, to forget.

My only grumble were the flashbacks. It may have been just because I was doing an audio and not reading, but they were jarring, with little to no warning you'd flipped back in time. It could happen mid page and then flip back and I found it took a while for me to get used to it.

But all in all, I liked this one. I liked the twist at the end and how it all came about.

A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.
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I was excited to read this, as it seemed like a twisty thriller with sinister aspects, not the least of which was the octopus. That sinister feeling remained, an unfamiliar house where there's no privacy or escape, no idea of who to trust even before a death occurs. But it isn't twisty or a thriller, it's almost sleepy in its anger and despair. 

It's difficult to talk about what worked for me without talking about what didn't as they were tangled up in each other, so overall let me say: I enjoyed reading this, I read it pretty quickly, I am intrigued to read more by this author, but I wasn't satisfied at the end of the novel.

<spoiler> 
I can tell I enjoyed the book because I was confused and unsure about so much for the whole book but I was willing to go along with it and wait for when the author meted out that information. That was more successful in some cases than others. The actual murder mystery solution was not satisfying to me. I think I would have been happier if it had more outright been "a test", after all, Richard went to great lengths to invite specific people, pick fights, keep his daughter from being there, plant evidence for each person, but then didn't really intend to overdose? I also could have been content with a more murder on the Orient Express solution, where they were ALL complicit, where everyone was awake and saw and nodded at each other to not move and help. Instead, it's neutered by making it clear that Elspeth and Honey were not involved at all, that Sabine wanted to help. 

I was sort of hoping Persephone would play into the death more, that Elspeth's paranoia about her would pay off in even a small way. If she is only there for an aesthetic, as a metaphor for keeping something beautiful and fierce just to watch her and keep her locked away, then I wish it had been leaned into a bit more. I'm sort of left wondering if she actually escaped at night? We are meant to believe Honey and also she was playing with the rock as though she wanted to get out, so I guess the answer is yes, but then what does that mean? Could there be more explicit parallels between this and the time Elspeth tried to leave Richard but didn't? If they were closer together in the book, that might work, but as it is that attempt for Elspeth to escape is glossed over in favor of a longer section from the 40th birthday party where she did end up leaving. 

And why was seeing him with Honey at that party such a revelation? I get that it reframes things for Elspeth, that maybe she <i>should</i> have warned Honey that Richard was an abusive partner, that he was 17 and needed protection and help, but like... 23 wouldn't have been better, you know? He's still very young and there's a huge power imbalance. Elspeth questioning if she let herself off the hook because Honey was a man and she didn't want to have to have that conversation, come off as jealous or bitter, revisit what had happened, is all probably accurate so I don't know why the recognition that he had slept with Honey then was so life changing for her. I thought a point was being made that Richard wasn't shooting up, he was cheating on her, and she would have stayed if it was cheating because he'd done it before, but she left because she thought it was drugs, and we were getting into the territory of "did she subconsciously lie to herself about viewing it as drug use as the final push to get out that door?" "should she have stayed as she stayed for cheating before, does she feel guilty for leaving?" and none of that rang true for me to the point where I would think "yes, this is the author's intention."
</spoiler>

I liked Elspeth as a character, and I certainly had empathy for her, the character flaws she had and mistakes she made felt very true, but she is a very passive character for a viewpoint protagonist. At the party she is constantly sitting by herself to get a moment of quiet and accidentally overhears things. Most of the police interrogations are skipped over, so much time is jumped or motivations skipped over (because the extent of the abuse is needed as a big reveal, sure), that it feels as though the meat of the book and the conflict have been excised and we're just left to read the connective tissue. It's an interesting way to format the book, but I don't think it had enough there to maintain the interest. I kept going because I thought there would be more pay off than we got. The ending point was good, exactly the right place to stop, but there was a "where are they now" bit right before it that went further into the future, and that was entirely unnecessary. I wanted a more twisty interesting solution to the puzzle and/or a more fulfilling emotional payoff for Elspeth (especially with her relationship with Lillie), and it was lukewarm for both. 

I think this could have been a much better book with not too much change, and that's why it frustrates me.
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This book was just not for me, I started it and just kept putting it down and thinking about other books. I couldn't get involved enough to ever finish reading.
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THE LAST GUEST – by Tess Little

The opening paragraphs of the book immediately hooked me into this Whodunit, coupled with one very interesting guest, in particular, which had me at the edge of my seat. 

How is this story going to play out?!?! 

As the reader, submerged in the depths of a who’s who dinner party, wherein drinks and delicious detectable are aplenty—by dawn early light, there on the floor lay a dead body.

I Desperately Need to know how this story ends; unfortunately, the narrative lags quite a bit with the repetition of thought from our main character, Elspeth; as we are transported between intermittent present-day interrogation with law enforcement, events of the distant past commingled with what transpired during the dinner party. 

At the beginning of Act II, around the fifty-three percent mark, the repetition continues, so I quickly lose interest in the narrative, no longer submerged, just bobbing on the surface.

My need to know what happens, however, hasn’t waned a bit, so I’m going to request an Audiobook from my local library and give this book another try. 

Thank you, NetGalley and Ballantine Books (Random House), for providing me with an eBook of THE LAST GUEST in a request for an honest review.
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Former actress, Elspeth Bell is at a very strange birthday part for her ex-husband, Hollywood director, Richard Bryant. The small guest list for the party is seemingly random until everyone wakes up the next morning to find Richard dead. 

This story is for the fan of the locked room mystery. I felt that it did drag along at times, although the ending was not one I expected.
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This was an OK mystery. I hesitated to read because I don't think comparing a debut to Agatha Christie shows the appropriate respect for Christie, and really just sets the debut author up for failure. The ending was not worth the ride to get there, in my opinion. 


I received an advance copy. All thoughts are my own.
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This novel tells the tale of eight guests at a dinner party. What seems to be a fun night turns into a nightmare when a murder occurs. Which one of the guests was the murder. I have to say I did not find this novel to be an original. This feels like an exact copy of the board game clue that I used to play. The characters were not at all likable. The story was very slow-paced. The best feature was the ending when we know who done it! Thus, this novel had potential but was not executed well.
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The Last Guest...
A little odd.  I did struggle keeping up with the time line (but that may be due to the fact that I had an Uncorrected Proof ).  The villain of the story invites a handful of his "friends" (aka people that he's trying to play mind games with) to his birthday party - and well, he gets a surprise that he may not have counted on (oh darn!!).  Without giving away any tidbits that could help you figure it out - I will say, I had a hard time liking any of the characters - even the ones that I actually understood!  Then you throw in Persephone and all of the Nat Geo facts and I'm laft shaking my head and feeling sad for her - okay, yes, she is the most sypathetic character of the entire novel lol.  I received this advance reader copy of The Last Guest by Tess Little from Netgalley in exchange for an honest opinion.
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#The Last Guest is by # Tess Little. A entertaining and enjoyable mystery novel.
The Last Guest is an exploration of the power of perception, memory, and the power of one person over another.After all what sort of man would desire to possess a creature as unsettling as Persephone?💜🐾🐾
Thank you for the advance copy,
#Netgalley and # Random House-Ballantine
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It's been done before: put a group of people in a big house and let the reader figure out why one of them was killed. Simple?
The Octopus is not so simple.
None of the people invited for the party where Richard gets killed is completely innocent. They all have something in their past that makes you think they could have done it. Even the octopus seems not entirely innocent.
The real story unfolds slowly with each time we read about the past and the link between what happened then and now. For me, a little bit too slow and with eight not very likable characters it was sometimes hard to keep interested. It's very well written and it has a clever plot and I can see why most people rate this book higher than three stars. I'm happy though to have read it.

Thanks to Netgalley for the digital review copy of this book.
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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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