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The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh
Thriller

The Last Party

Repeat author

Clare Mackintosh is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include I Let You Go.

by Clare Mackintosh

Excellent choice

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Quick take

Nobody likes the reflection in Mirror Lake when a dead body bobs to the surface and starts unveiling all their secrets.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Rural_update

    Rural

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Whodunit

    Whodunit

Synopsis

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.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Last Party.
The Last Party

New Year’s Day

No one in Cwm Coed can remember what year the swim began, but they know they wouldn’t welcome the New Year in any other way. They don’t remember which year it was that Dafydd Lewis went in wearing nothing but a Santa hat, or when the rugby lads bombed off the jetty and drenched poor Mrs. Williams.

But everyone will remember today’s swim.

There’s been snow on the peaks since before Christmas, and even with the protection from the mountains, the temperature in the town hasn’t climbed above freezing. The lake itself is bitter. Colder than last year! People gasp, at once gleeful and incredulous. We must be mad!

As if rebelling against the clear skies, wisps of mist curl above the surface of the water, their reflection giving the disorienting impression that the sky’s been tipped upside down. Above the mist, the air is vivid blue, an echo of last night’s moon suspended above the forest.

From the very top of Pen y Ddraig mountain, Llyn Drych seems more river than lake. It’s long and serpent-shaped, each bend a flick of the dragon’s tail it’s said to represent. Drych means “mirror,” and, when the wind drops and the water lies still, the surface shimmers like silver. The reflection of the mountain stretches into the center of the lake, so solid you feel you could step onto it, no hint of the black and fathomless depths beneath.

Along the path that winds its way up the south side of the mountain—from the dragon’s back to its head—ramblers stoop to pick a pebble from the path. They straighten, feel the weight of it in their hands, then look around sheepishly before hurling the stone toward the water. Legend has it that Llyn Drych’s dragon rises up if its tail is hit—few ramblers can resist the myth.

Around the edge of the lake, pine trees stand sentry, their shoulders so close that if one were felled, you could imagine them all toppling, one after another. The trees steal the view from the village of Cwm Coed, but they take the worst of the weather too, which feels like a fair exchange to the people who live there.

On the far side of the water—less than a mile from where the crowd is now gathering—a line of buildings squats in the foothills. The trees directly in front of them have been ripped from the ground, the wood used to clad the lodges and make the vast carved sign that stands at the end of the long private drive—each letter as tall as a man.

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Why I love it

Clare Mackintosh’s The Last Party had me from its eerie first page. The book’s pace and use of comedy made it unputdownable. It’s rare to find a piece that allows you to laugh one minute and be an armchair detective the next.

The novel is set on the border of Wales and England around fictional Mirror Lake, where a luxury housing development dubbed “The Shore” has recently been erected. Cwm Coed is a sleepy and seemingly peaceful small town . . . then on New Year’s, a body turns up in the lake. I found myself so impressed by the structural device Mackintosh uses in writing each chapter from a different character’s POV. In The Last Party, the reader is given an insight into each character’s—sometimes subtle, sometimes overt—variations of reality, allowing us to understand the circumstances through each person’s bias, personal experience, and history.

For me, the biggest (and most thought-provoking) surprise was the way The Last Party tackles class and national tensions in this painfully homogenous town. These tensions become the unseen guests at every table, a fog that shrouds and divides the residents of Cwm Coed and The Shore. What are you waiting for? Add The Last Party to your box now.

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Member ratings (19,330)

  • Erin K.

    Tampa, FL

    Absolutely LOVED this book!! Looked forward to reading it every night and was sad to see it end. Happy though to hear Fion’s story isn’t over and look forward to the next chapter! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Nicole S.

    Lochubuie, CO

    What an interesting storyline and characters. Very well developed and an easy read. I appreciated the authors back and forth between characters. It allowed for a more complete picture. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Alexandra V.

    Waverly, WV

    In the beginning I wasn’t enthralled, but the more that was revealed, the more I had to find answers. I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending & I definitely did not guess who did it! Overall ❤️

  • Cathie D.

    Acton, MA

    On New Year’s Day, the body of Rhys Lloyd is found floating in Mirror Lake. Everyone at the party and in town are suspects. Shifting from past to present, you get a character’s perspective of events.

  • Julianne B.

    Fairfax, VA

    Loved, loved, loved this book! So excited it’s the 1st in a series! The atmosphere/ setting felt like another character which complemented the author’s other characters. Excellent procedural mystery

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