The Club by Ellery Lloyd

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The Club by Ellery Lloyd

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A cracker of a thriller which will keep you guessing until you turn the final page. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: March 2022
Publisher: Mantle
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1529039504

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The party of the year turned into the murder mystery of the decade.

Just off Littlesea, in Essex and a mile or so into the Blackwater Estuary, The Manor stood on an island. It was now known as Island Home, one of The Home Group's exclusive clubs and the opening weekend was going to be something special, even by Home's standards. Speedboats, helicopters and blacked-out SUVs were converging on the island, which was linked to the mainland by a causeway that was inaccessible at high tide. Home's CEO, Ned Groom, is determined that everything, everything will be perfect. Home has 5761 members: just 150 of them have received invites for the weekend. Those who have not been invited have not stopped ringing...

By Sunday morning, the guests will be desperate to get off the island - to be evacuated. The sight of a landrover on the seabed with a body inside it was responsible for some of the panic but not all of it.

But I'm getting ahead of myself! Let's go back to the first evening when Jess Wilson, the newly-appointed Head of Housekeeping, was preparing for the dinner to which just a few guests had been invited. The last housekeeper had left suddenly and there had not been any sort of handover: Jess is understandably nervous. She hasn't met Ned Groom and the interview she had with his brother Adam had been strange, to say the least. Adam's 'Head of Special Projects' but the projects which come his way don't seem that special.

You might have expected Adam to be Ned's right-hand man but that job falls to Annie Spark. She's the one who has the instinct for who's on the up-and-up and should be welcomed to all the perks of membership and who's sliding down the ladder. It's a delicate balancing act, though - careers have been known to be revived and you don't want anyone holding a grudge and an Oscar.

Nikki Hayes is Ned Groom's PA. She started as a hat-check girl at one of the group's clubs: her modelling career wasn't taking off so the job provided some much-needed funds. Just occasionally she gets snide comments from members who remember those days. She's not at the first-night dinner: Ned Groom has something he wants to say to his most prominent members: actors Jackson and Georgia Crane, chat-show host, Freddie Hunter, photographer Keith Little and producer Kurt Cox. They're not going to like it and not all of them will leave the island alive.

The characters are superb: you can believe in each and every one of them. There are a few you'll dislike (but you'll be desperate to know more about them) but, for me, the stars were the three women who're holding it all together: Annie, Jess and Nikki. Annie's going over the top: there's a barely-concealed wildness in there and you know it can't be long before something goes badly wrong. The plot is superb. We knew that something dreadful was going to happen: it's not subtly signposted - it's there in neon lights - but I really had no idea how it was all going to work out. This was my first Ellery Lloyd: it won't be my last.

The Club confirms all that we believed we knew about 'celebrity'. There's the bad behaviour, the belief that someone will always be there to pick up after you, to clean up the mess you've made, to cater to your every whim. It's like knowing what lies behind the stories you read in Hello. It's a book to confirm all your prejudices and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If The Club appeals, we think you might also enjoy The Guest List by Lucy Foley.

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