The Cliff House – Chris Brookmyre

“They had been on the island less than five hours and already the whole thing was falling apart.

A group of women head to a remote Scottish island for a lavish hen do. But when someone turns up dead, the question of ‘who dunnit’ only stirs up the secrets surrounding each of them. Jen’s friends include a pop star who dumped her former bandmate for stardom, and the dumpee. Her former sister-in-law, still questioning her brother’s strange disappearance, and the soon to be new sister-in-law. Is anyone quite what they seem?

As the text message arrives telling them that one must spill their darkest secret if any are to escape, the group turns on itself hoping that anyone but themselves is the target. But secrets have a way of getting out…

While far from perfect, there was such readability about this book which kept me guessing the whole way through. In fact, I made the ill-advised decision to read the second half in one go, which resulted into staying up til 1am – and a very tired me the next day!

The author has a real skill in eking out the reveals and maintaining the reader’s interest. Little mysteries are solved, while bigger ones come to light. None of the characters are exempt, and we’re left wondering which of the dark secrets has set off this nightmarish situation.

The setting is a little cliched, but well drawn. A remote Scottish island with a luxury manor house, retreat for the rich and famous craving some privacy. I wasn’t entirely keen on one character being a famous pop starlet, but she does make a lot of the set-up make sense. It’s rather less obvious why Jen would have invited some of these people, though, but all of these kinds of thoughts are minor as the pace pushes relentlessly on.

The ending turns out to be very satisfactory, while not earth-shattering – perhaps some of the other revelations take away a little of the final punch, although there are some real shockers in the group’s secrets. Overall good, though, and the process of getting there was thoroughly enjoyable.

The Cliff House book coverNetGalley eARC: 352 pages / chapters not numbered
First published: 28th July 2022
Series: none
Read from 20th-27th June 2022

My rating: 8/10

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