The Last Resort by Susi Holliday

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The Last Resort by Susi Holliday

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Megan Kenny
Reviewed by Megan Kenny
Summary: The Last Resort is an easy to read page turner, perfect for a holiday read. Whilst it feels formulaic at points, it is sure to be enjoyed by those who love a mystery, new technology and uncovering dark secrets.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 346 Date: November 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1542020015

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A group of strangers gather on a private island. They have been invited to an all-expenses paid retreat to test a brand-new product from the mysterious Timeo Technology company. The group includes a games designer, social media influencer, gossip columnist and hedge fund manager. Everyone seems to have an area of expertise that makes their attendance necessary. All except Amelia whose presence is a mystery. We follow the group as they explore the island, and each other's histories and it becomes clear that they all have a dark secret they would rather keep hidden. As the clock ticks down, these well-kept secrets are revealed, and it soon becomes clear that this luxury retreat is really a gilded cage. In a race against time, Amelia must struggle to uncover the reason for her attendance and protect the rest of the guests from the increasingly sinister accidents that befall them.

The Last Resort taps into a universal truth; we all have secrets, sordid stains on our history that we keep buried deep within the depths of ourselves. Imagine a stranger finding out the most embarrassing thing you've ever done or seeing a crime you committed in a moment of madness, an affair you would rather forget. Holliday's clever use of this truth makes it impossible not to relate to the growing unease the group feel, as secrets are revealed against their will. The use of an insidious new technology adds a sci-fi frisson to this book, alongside it's more familiar mystery thriller tropes and encourages the reader to question the ever-present role of technology in our daily lives.

In terms of style, The Last Resort moves apace and each chapter is voiced by a different character. This gives the reader a chance to see the unfolding events from different perspectives and to uncover the growing fears of the group. The characters are flawed, sometimes reprehensible but always human. Their voices are distinct and the story moves quickly. The 'ticking clock' countdown adds an element of urgency to the story and the tension builds until the final reveal.

This reveal sours The Last Resort and left me feeling that it was a prosaic thriller by numbers, rather than an innovative take on the genre. It is not difficult to guess who the shady villain is at the centre of the piece, but their behaviour and motivation make little sense. Without giving too much away, there is not enough character development to provide satisfaction, and it reads as though Holliday came up with the technology and the reveal and then shaped the ending to fit the outcome. This leads to it feeling forced, rather than an organic, natural ending to the rest of the story. It is a shame because there are some really interesting elements to the story that are let down by a deflating end.

However, The Last Resort is an easy to read thriller, with short sharp chapters that can be devoured quickly. The characters are interesting and the tension is well managed throughout, so if you are a fan of mystery thrillers there should be plenty to keep you entertained.

For those interested in more thrillers from Thomas & Mercer, you might want to try The Push by Claire McGowan. From Mantle, we've enjoyed The Club by Ellery Lloyd.

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