Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One perfect crime.
When Amelia is invited to an all-expenses-paid retreat on a private island, the mysterious offer is too good to refuse. Along with six other strangers, she’s told they’re here to test a brand-new product for Timeo Technologies. But the guests’ excitement soon turns to terror when the real reason for their summons becomes clear.
Each guest has a guilty secret. And when they’re all forced to wear a memory-tracking device that reveals their dark and shameful deeds to their fellow guests, there’s no hiding from the past. This is no luxury retreat – it’s a trap they can’t get out of.
As the clock counts down to the lavish end-of-day party they’ve been promised, injuries and in-fighting split the group. But with no escape from the island – or the other guests’ most shocking secrets – Amelia begins to suspect that her only hope for survival is to be the last one standing. Can she confront her own dark past to uncover the truth – before it’s too late to get out?
I loved the sound of The Last Resort as soon as I heard about it and I jumped at the chance to be an early reader.
The Last Resort comes across as a golden age mystery crossed with an episode of Black Mirror. It’s a combination that works really well to deliver something a little unusual, combining a classic mystery scenario with elements of science fiction. It can be a hard balance to strike, but Holliday does well to use the science fiction elements to enhance the plot without completely overwhelming it. And the technology she has imagined is extremely discomforting – whoever invited these guests to the island knows their deepest, darkest, and most shameful secrets, and the trackers that the guests are fitted with links directly into their neural pathways, allowing their innermost thoughts to read. It’s a set up that gives the novel an eerie and uncomfortable tone throughout.
The main protagonist is Amelia, and the story is told predominantly from her perspective. From the beginning, she seems to be the odd one out. She makes the numbers uneven – otherwise three men and three women – and her line of work as a humanitarian aid worker also marks her as different to the others who include an influencer and a gossip columnist. She is also the only one who isn’t fitted with a tracker – supposedly due to a tech malfunction – something that doesn’t go unnoticed by the rest of the group, although her own secret is still revealed over the course of the novel. Singling out a character in this way did make me sympathise with her more than I would have done otherwise, particularly as some of the others (who are largely unlikeable) turn on her.
The plot starts off well, throwing the idea of a supposed luxury get away into doubt almost from the very first page. As things go from bad to worse, these seven guests – mostly strangers – are quickly put into a situation where they have to work together and trust each other. You can imagine how well that works out, particularly as more information about each is shared. It’s a fast-paced novel, and one that will keep you turning the pages as you try to find out what happens. There were a few elements to the plot that I found to be a little unbelievable, there to enhance the plot without really making sense to me, but I found that, with a little suspension of disbelief, this was an enjoyable read.
The Last Resort will be published on 1 December, although it’s available now to Amazon Prime members through the First Reads program. Many thanks to Susi Holliday for the opportunity to read and review ahead of publication via Netgalley.