The Cliff House by Chris Brookmyre

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The Cliff House by Chris Brookmyre

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A cracker of a thriller from the man we always thought was brilliant at Sci-Fi. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: July 2022
Publisher: Little, Brown
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1408712177

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Many of them didn't know each other, one of them didn't know anybody, including Jen, one of them quite possibly hated her, and two of them definitely hated each other. What could possibly go wrong?

That's the round-up for Jen's hen party which is to take place on Clachan Geal an island just south of Barra. They're all staying in The Cliff House, hosted by Lauren, and it's the utmost in luxury living but then Jen can afford it. She's just sold her muffin business for millions but is staying on to run it. She's got her doubts about the long weekend: fiance Zaki Hussain has been acting a little strangely of late and wouldn't explain to her what the email he was hurriedly deleting was about. Added to that, he's just about forced her to bring his sister, Samira, whom Jen's never met, on the trip, on the grounds that she's been stuck at home with newborn twins for the last six months and desperately needs the break.

He does warn her that she should watch how much Samira's drinking. Jen feels that's an unreasonable request: why should the bride-to-be have to watch how much her guests drink at the hen party? Samira turns out to be a mouthy rage-monster who couldn't handle her drink. It's not a good look for a lawyer. Two of the guests were at school with Jen. Michelle Cassidy has made her fortune from the band Cassidy but it's now breaking up and Mica is going solo. The other school friend, Helena Eckhart was also in Cassidy and deeply resents what's happened.

Jen felt obliged to invite Beattie, the sister of Jason, Jen's first husband, who was declared dead three years ago. Beattie suspects that Jen knew more about his disappearance than she let on at the time but then a policeman who ran a high-end sports car on a copper's salary was bound to have a few dodgy friends who might take against him, wasn't he? Beattie can see no wrong in him and won't believe Jen when she tells her about the abuse that she's suffered.

Then add into the mix tennis coach Kennedy (is that a first name or a surname - no one seems to know and it's too late to ask), a fashion diva and a chef who's dead on the kitchen floor in a few hours and it's going to get bloody - if it isn't already. That's when the message arrives: one of them has a secret. They're going to have to admit it and make reparations. The trouble is that they've all got something they're trying to hide.

Tight plotting plus excellent characterisation equals a cracker of a thriller and this one is a cracker. I had a suspicion about who was responsible for what was happening but I certainly hadn't got it fully worked out. Chris Brookmyre has it down to perfection: all the clues were there but I missed them. I wasn't really certain about what was going on until the last page or two of the book and I finished it far more quickly than I intended simply because I had to get some answers.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For Science Fiction from Brookmyre, try Places in the Darkness

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