Lucy has dreamt of her wedding day for as long as she can remember. And now the day is almost here. Her nearest and dearest are gathered on an idyllic Greek island and she just knows it’s going to be perfect. It has to be.
But even the best-laid plans can go horribly wrong. Why are her parents behaving so strangely? Why won’t the rather odd lady from the airport stop hanging around? Who is the silent stranger her sister brought as a plus-1?
And then they find the body.
I’ve read three of Tammy Cohen’s historical books written under the name Rachel Rhys and enjoyed them so I thought I’d try her latest release The Wedding Party which is a psychological suspense novel.
Jason and Lucy have gathered their nearest and dearest on the beautiful Greek island of Kefalonia for their wedding, however things start to unravel when her rebellious sister, Jess, finally arrives with a stranger in tow. The wedding guests are a disparate bunch who are all harbouring their own secrets which slowly rise to the surface as the tension increases. Then someone dies.
The book actually opens with the police investigating the death, however we are not privy to the identity or gender of the person who has died so we are left guessing. We don’t even know if it was murder, suicide or an accidental death which are all plausible. The main narrative of the book is also interspersed with police interview transcripts and journal entries which serve to heighten the mystery and also to reveal the truth bit by bit.
Lucy, the bride, so intent on having the perfect Instagram wedding, has planned everything down to the nth degree but things start to unravel when her rebellious sister, Jess, arrives with a guy she doesn’t even know. However, the antics of her sister are the least of her worries as Lucy realises she has massively overspent her budget and cannot afford to pay the wedding planner. Lucy usually relies on her mother bailing her out but Hazel has financial problems of her own as she has been made redundant and is too embarrassed to tell anyone. Hazel is also preoccupied with the newly discovered fact her husband seems to be having an affair. Lucy should be able to confess everything to her soon-to-be husband but she is too ashamed and doesn’t want his mother finding out.
The only one of the party who seems to be able to keep Lucy calm is her best friend, Shelly, who seems to know exactly what to say to soothe Lucy’s nerves but Shelly has ulterior motives and is jealous of her friend. Shelly has also caught the attention of an eccentric older woman, Vivian, who manages to burrow her way into the wedding party and seems to be able to see beyond the polished exterior of the guests into their true nature. And then there is Nina, the wedding planner, whose own marriage is falling apart and is in debt to a local man intent on ruining her business if she doesn’t pay up.
The pace of the story is initially quite slow but this is down to the multiple viewpoints and things gather speed as the wedding gets closer and some truths begin to surface. Most of the action takes place in the wedding venue, with the odd excursion, which creates a claustrophobic atmosphere as the characters cannot really escape from each other when their relationships begin to break down. None of the characters are particularly likeable but that’s the whole point and you soon realise any of them could be the victim or even responsible for a death.
All of the unpleasantness takes place agains the idyllic backdrop of Kefalonia, the largest of the Ionian Islands, which boasts white sandy beaches, blue skies and a dramatic coastline which features heavily in the story. It is a beautiful setting and the descriptive passages transport the reader there which makes it a great summer read.