4 star

Review: The Dinner Guest by B. P. Walter

Four people walked into the dining room that night. One would never leave.

Matthew: the perfect husband.

Titus: the perfect son.

Charlie: the perfect illusion.

Rachel: the perfect stranger.

Charlie didn’t want her at the book club. Matthew wouldn’t listen.

And that’s how Charlie finds himself slumped beside his husband’s body, their son sitting silently at the dinner table, while Rachel calls 999, the bloody knife still gripped in her hand.

Agatha Christie meets Donna Tartt in this nerve-shredding domestic noir thriller that weaves a sprawling web of secrets around an opulent West London world and the dinner that ends in death. 

This one seemed like a rather popular book on hold, so I decided to give it a try myself too. A very simple premise where there is a dinner party in which 4 people walk in but only 3 manage to walk out. One confesses to the murder right away. End of the story, no?

The Dinner Guest revolves around the idyllic life of Charlie and his husband Matthew, and their son Titus. That is, until a woman named Rachel shows up. Slowly but surely she becomes completely entangled with their lives, a woman seemingly from nowhere. Charlie has suspicions about her, but can never prove anything. Besides, just what does she want anyway? How does the situation end up with Rachel with a knife in her hand over the dead body calling the policy?

This thriller takes place over two main timelines: one starting about a year before the incident, and the other contemporaneous with the murder and its aftermath. The POV flips between the two and eventually converge to about the same time. The pacing of the story was great, and the fairly quick timeline helped with the suspense building. Considering this thriller was a bit longer than an average one, I still raced through it and couldn’t put it down.

The characters were all charming and imperfectly human in their own way. While I wasn’t super invested into any of the characters, I felt like I couldn’t help but be curious at what transpired that led us up to the situation in the present. I was hungry for more and more of their backstories, which really made me race through the book and made the book go by more quickly, even with its rather macabre dinner ending.

Overall, it was a little bit predictable due to the small number of suspects and the fact that it starts off with one of them confessing. That being said, the whole climax and ending was still fairly satisfying, and was worth the build up. The author also knew how to play with my expectations of tropes and stereotypes in order to throw me off the scent as well. A fast-paced read, even if slightly longer than I’m used to!

Overall Recommendations

The Dinner Guest is a story of an idyllic family that ends in a macabre dinner with one of them dead. How did such a perfect family end up in such a situation? Taking place in two converging timelines in alternating POVs, this is a fast-paced, suspenseful thriller that is sure to keep you hooked until the last page. For me, it had very good suspense and buildup, and a decently satisfying ending. If you’re a fan of thrillers, I think this is another one for the list!


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