The Party - Lisa Hall

Rachel awakens in a room she doesn't immediately recognise with an ache that every woman fears. Something happened last night and she cannot remember anything. Her friends are hiding things from her, her husband can barely look at her and her son is avoiding her questions. Who knows what happened with Rachel on New Year's Eve? Scratch that, who will tell her the truth?

Another impromptu library visit turned up this mystery/'thriller' and there were some decent reviews that left me wanting to find out what happened! I'll be honest from the start, this was pretty poor and this will not be a shining review. We start by wanting to find out what happened to Rachel on that night, but the synopsis and first chapter give that away almost immediately. The next mystery is who did it, who would be so depraved to rape a woman with a house full of people downstairs? Don't think too hard about it because that too becomes pretty obvious by the mid-way point.

Hall's attempt at characterisation in this novel falls alarmingly flat. Our main character Rachel has been through something traumatic and I can only imagine how she feels but her attitude in the days following the attack are so difficult to understand. She is at first too afraid to leave her front door in case the rapist is waiting for her to leave and then immediately feels the need to visit her suspects! How does that compute into normal thinking?! I would potentially understand it if she had a couple of days between the changing attitudes but there is a specific part of the book where she is just waiting by her door, crippled with anxiety and then all of a sudden is off to confront one of her top suspects!

Convenience seems to be an accurate representation of about how 70% of thriller novels come to their conclusion. This was no different. Without giving the game away (if I had to waste my time reading this, so do you) an unexplained deviation from character for one of our key players leads the police to the correct suspect. The deviation was even addressed as completely out of character yet we, the reader, are expected to accept it? No thank you!

This was such a short book that I didn't feel like DNF'ing would have been worth it, I persevered until the end and there was some redeeming qualities that pushed this from a one star to two. In the final chapters when the real rapist is revealed Rachel finds her strength and goes to town trying to protect herself and her family, her resilience seemed like a true show of her character and I was so relieved to finally see it in the pages. Congrats Rachel!

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