Tuesday 22 December 2020

The Last Resort by Susi Holliday @SJIHolliday #TheLastResort @sophieglorita @FMcMAssociates #BookReview


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?

The Last Resort by Susi Holliday was published on 1 December 2020 by Thomas & Mercer. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I have been a huge fan of this author for years now, and have read everything she's written and enjoyed all of it. I was eager to see what she would have in store for you in The Last Resort, and flew through this book in just a couple of days.

It's an intriguing premise, with seven very different people boarding a small plane to take them on a luxury adventure. None of them know where their destination is, or what they will find when they arrive. However, they are all very keen to find out, and for most of them, for this to be another way to increase their own wealth and standing within their own communities.

The main focus of the story is Amelia. She's quite different from the other guests, having spent her career helping others in far-flung countries all over the world. She's not wealthy, famous or even a Z lister, she's a humanitarian aid-worker who is constantly wondering just why she is there.

Strange things happen even before the plane touches down, and when they do finally arrive at the secret location, it is not a bit how they imagined it to be. When the representative from Timeo; the organisation behind the secret trip fits a tracking device onto each of them, things really do start to feel quite unusual. Once again, Amelia feels adrift from the others in the group, as her tracker cannot be attached behind the ear, like the others. Instead she has a wrist tracker. This causes suspicion amongst the others too.

What follows is an entertaining, very dark, but intriguing story. It's a kind of survival of the fittest, although even the strongest of this group struggle along the way. Holliday's characters are well formed, she exposes the shallow lives of online influencers and the total fakery of some online health claims. Both the reader, and the rest of the characters find out a lot about this group. Things that they've kept hidden away for years, hoping that they will never be found out. However it's obvious that Timeo are able to expose them, and they do, with devastating effects. 

The Last Resort is a blend of locked-room mystery, a dark crime story and a hint of science-fiction. There are flashbacks that add a layer to the mystery that runs throughout, and there's a final reveal that is unexpected and startling.

This is a crazy roller-coaster of a read, filled with characters to despise and a couple to cheer on. 

Susi (S.J.I.) Holliday grew up in East Lothian, Scotland. A life-long fan of crime and horror, her
short stories have been published in various places, and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize. She lives in London (except when she's in Edinburgh) and she loves to travel the world.

Her serial killer thriller "The Deaths of December", featuring Detective Sergeant Eddie Carmine and Detective Constable Becky Greene was a festive hit in 2017.

Her next two releases, "The Last Resort" and "Substitute" are due out from Thomas & Mercer late 2020 and summer 2021 - both of these books are suspense thrillers with a technological element (a blend of Black Mirror, Tales of the Unexpected and The Twilight Zone).

Writing as SJI Holliday, she also has three crime novels set in the fictional Scottish town of Banktoun, which are a mix of police procedural and psychological thriller. They are: "Black Wood", "Willow Walk" and "The Damselfly" - all featuring the much loved character, Sergeant Davie Gray.

Also as SJI Holliday, her spooky mystery "The Lingering" was released in September 2018, followed by "Violet" - a psychological thriller set on the Trans-Siberian Express - in September 2019. "Violet" has been optioned for film.

You can find out more at her website: http://www.sjiholliday.com and on Facebook and Twitter @SJIHolliday

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