Review: The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

Title: The Perfect Guests
Author: Emma Rous
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 284
Genre: Mystery

Book 13 of 2021
Reading Time: 2hrs 33mins
Date Finished: April 15, 2021

Content Warnings: Murder, mental illness

What Worked For Me: Dual perspective/timeline, dinner mystery setting
What Didn’t Work For Me: The actual mystery

I’m gonna be honest, I don’t remember a lot about this book. Even looking back at my reading notes, I didn’t write much about it and I don’t know what one of the paragraphs is about. That probably says quite a bit about my feelings around this.

The story revolves around a woman getting invited to a dinner party where everyone dresses up as a character and plays a role. It’s basically one of those murder mystery dinners that I’ve always wanted to go to but no one has ever invited me to. Anyways, while she’s there, people at the dinner start disappearing and the mystery is revealed to be related to a death on the property from a few decades ago.

Is that even right? I’m not quite sure. Someone died and now other people are trying to figure out what happened, that’s all I’ve got.

The book was recommended in a video about the “stuck with the killer” trope, because I love stories like that. My library had it so I thought it would be a good time to try it. And unfortunately, it fell completely flat for me.

I pretty much guessed who all the characters at the dinner party were and how they related to the mystery within the first 1/3 of the book and was right. According to my notes, I wasn’t invested yet at the halfway mark and I don’t think I ever became invested. At least not to my memory. By the end, I had guessed every single twist except for the last one, which kind of came out of left field. Nothing really stood out to me and that makes me kind of sad.

As far as I can remember, the characters were fine. They weren’t anything special and I even forgot one of the main characters’ names. The story takes place in two timelines with two narrators, and I know I preferred the past timeline more than the present. It felt like more of an actual mystery and I had some fun wondering what was up with the strange parents. While writing this, I remembered a weird relationship the father had with someone, but absolutely nothing else about it comes to mind. I can’t find any reviews to help me figure out what I forgot, but I did come across a Reddit thread where one person said they had to draw a convoluted family map to make sense of how everyone was connected. That’s kind of bad, right?

It wasn’t so much that the story did anything wrong to make me feel this apathetic about it, it just didn’t do much that was right for me. Maybe this would be better for someone who wasn’t familiar with the genre and its tropes, or someone who doesn’t tend to guess ahead like I do. All I can really say is that this is probably my most forgettable book of the year and that I can’t really recommend it because of that.

From what I’ve heard and seen online, the author’s debut The Au Pair was better received. I might pick it up from the library just for the heck of it because I’d like to see if it was this book that I didn’t like or if the author isn’t for me. This is one of those times that I’m grateful libraries exist because I would greatly hesitate to spend actual money on a book I’m so unsure about.

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