Monday, March 27, 2023

The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh – Reading Wales 2023

Title: The Last Party
Author: Clare Mackintosh
Publication: Sourcebooks, hardcover, 2022
Genre: Suspense
Setting: Wales
Description: Rhys Lloyd is a local boy who made good as an opera singer and returned home to develop a resort community on Llyn Drych, Mirror Lake, which is bordered by Wales on one side and England on the other. The Welsh locals from the village of Cwm Coed are wary of The Shore and its ostentatious inhabitants, so a party to which all are invited seems like a good idea until the next day when Rhys is found floating in the lake. Detective Ffion Morgan from North Wales Police and Detective Constable Leo Brady of the Cheshire Constabulary are both assigned to the case, which is slightly awkward as they just had a one-night stand in which they provided false names to each other. As a detective team, however, they seem to be a good team and the first thing they discover is that Rhys had a dark side and everyone is a suspect.

My Impression: Despite the drowned body, this book begins in a lighthearted way at the morgue where detective constables are sent by their respective superiors to investigate. It’s just a bit awkward as Ffion and Leo hooked up at a bar the night before, giving each other fake names as they did not expect to encounter each other again. The pathologist, suspicious but not guessing the extent of the coincidence, has to introduce them and they form an uneasy alliance. Leo’s boss is a bigoted and obnoxious man who tells him if it’s an accidental drowning to let the Welsh deal with it but if it’s an easily solved murder, he should keep it so as to boost department statistics. Ffion tries to tell her boss she has a conflict of interest but he tells her to keep the case anyway.

The story is told in flashbacks and from various points of view, and the reader can’t keep up with all the plot twists but it is enjoyable anyway, full of well-developed Welsh characters and mostly unpleasant English ones. Unlike Mackintosh’s other books - the last one featured a very improbable airplane hostage adrenaline-filled crisis – here, humor alternates with serious issues such as assault, the economic decline of a village, and child custody issues. Ffion is an unusual name even in Welsh (it means foxglove) and she is a complicated but intriguing character with secrets in her past. Although she and Leo were not interested in a relationship when they met, as they get to know each other, they realize they make a good team, despite Leo’s fear that she is withholding information from him. This is going to be a series, which is good news, and I suspect the village of Cym Coed is not done with its secrets.

Source: Library. I read this book for Dewithon 2023, hosted by Paula at Book Jotter, and it's my tenth for Carol’s Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge.
Some of my favorite visits to Wales:

The Whispering Mountain by Joan Aiken

A String in the Harp by Nancy Bond

The Rising of the Lark by Ann Moray

I spent a weekend in Cardiff and Penarth five years ago but would certainly like to plan a longer trip to Wales.


Sue in Suffolk said...

Sounds interesting, I've reserved it from the library - a new to me author.

Paula Bardell-Hedley said...

Thank you once again, Constance, for taking part in Dewithon. A lovely review! 😊