My enormous thanks to Susi Holliday for an advanced reader copy of The Last Resort in return for an honest review. I was delighted to receive it as I love Susi’s writing. You’ll find my review of Willow Walk here, an interview with Susi to celebrate The Damsel Fly here and my review of her excellent Violet here. I’m thrilled to be part of The Last Resort blog tour and would like to thank Sophie Goodfellow for inviting me to participate.
The Last Resort will be published by Thomas and Mercer on 1st December 2020 and is available for purchase here.
The Last Resort
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?
My Review of The Last Resort
This is not the trip everyone was expecting!
Before you begin reading The Last Resort, leave your preconceptions behind, willingly suspend your disbelief and immerse yourself into an exciting, slightly unhinged and surreal narrative that has echoes of Agatha Christie, Enid Blyton, Lord of the Flies, Brave New World and a Gatiss inspired episode of Dr Who or The League of Gentlemen. The Last Resort is quite mad. That might sound critical, but it isn’t at all. I absolutely loved this book. Susi Holliday has produced a narrative that is brilliantly entertaining and quite unnerving because she takes the familiar, like the concept of reality television, and presents it in completely innovative and distorted ways that are absolutely gripping.
I thought the plot was breathtakingly fast paced in a twisting manner that fits the overarching reason for the action perfectly. Indeed, The Last Resort is a convincing example of a traditional narrative with its unities of time – a single day, place – an island, and action – although I can’t tell you much about that action for fear of spoiling a corker of a read. All the elements needed in a thriller are there with a dystopian use of technology that is frighteningly close to today’s reality, a terrifyingly familiar exploration of the survival of the fittest, and a scarily clever exploitation of people’s fears and memories all blended with a psychological element that glues the action together.
The style of the narrative made me feel as if I were part of the action, seeing the projections and experiencing the memories alongside the characters. I loved Susi Holliday’s descriptions too. She has a deft touch in supplying just the right amount of detail to bring her settings alive without the pace of the narrative missing a beat.
The characters are an unsettling example of how we never really know the innermost thoughts and fears of those around us and The Last Resort illustrates with complete clarity that leaving our past behind might be more challenging than we hope. It was Amelia with whom I felt the greatest affinity, but each of these guests has a personality hook that illustrates the underlying vulnerability that many of us have behind our public personas. I think it says something about me too that I rather enjoyed what happened to one or two of them!
If you were to ask me if The Last Resort is realistic and believable I’d say, ‘No’. If you were to ask if The Last Resort is brilliantly entertaining, completely absorbing and a wonderful opportunity to escape into a different world for a few hours I would say ‘Absolutely’. I thought it was totally crackers, somewhat disturbing and quite fabulous. I loved it.
About Susi Holliday
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.
There’s more with these other bloggers too: