When Susi Holliday’s The Last Resort begins, seven strangers board an airplane on their way to a remote island for a mysterious weekend arranged by an elusive host. With that setup, it is impossible for crime fiction genre fans not to immediately think of Dame Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Those allusions certainly do not stop there. However, Holliday also succeeds in bringing this plotline into the modern age by incorporating some technological aspects that feel cutting-edge and timely, allowing readers into the minds of the characters in a fresh approach.
Amelia is the character readers hear from the most – ironic (maybe) given that she is the one person on the island dealing with faulty mechanical equipment. Susi Holliday also gives all the other female members of the group at least one chapter to share their internal thoughts. Interrupting it all on occasion are sections that relate unattributed events that occurred in the Summer of 2000. It does not take a mystery fan to know that those encounters are somehow related to the present-day action on this remote island.
Each of the four women and three men have secrets. The method by which Holliday exposes those long held nuggets of information is unique both for the readers and the characters. By revealing them in this way, the impact is altered for the characters in the novel, allowing readers to “read into” the true meanings of the others’ reactions. It is interesting how each of the secrets is related to timeless emotions – anger, fear, rejection, and guilt to name just a few; but the connection to modern culture via concepts like social media, surveillance, and beyond opens some new angles of exploration.
By tagging each chapter with a countdown to the “big bash” planned for the guests on this island, readers feel the dramatic pull required to keep them turning pages, faster and faster. This technique, borrowed from the thriller genre, works extremely well for this narrative. The homage to And Then There Were None pretty much guarantees that not everyone will survive this weekend and this ticking clock reinforces this idea. The title of the novel also alludes to these possible demises, but also serves the function of having multiple meanings that only become clear as the novel reaches its conclusion.
Susi Holliday has never been one to shy away from unique storylines that often blur the artificial lines between genres. Readers looking for something innovative that also celebrates the origins of the crime genre would be well-served by checking out Susi Holliday’s The Last Resort.
Disclaimer: An e-galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.