Thrillers are a genre of books that I’ve not read much of over the last year – whilst they definitely used to be the genre I would flock to and obsess over, since discovering and realising my love for the fantasy genre, they really have taken a bit of a backseat. An author within the genre that I always seem to go back to is C. L. Taylor – her books are both comforting and intriguing, with twists and turns that you definitely look for when reading within the genre. When I saw that a new book had been released (and also that it was included on the 99p Kindle offer), I knew that my Friday night read was going to be Her Last Holiday by C. L. Taylor.
Her Last Holiday by C. L. Taylor Book Review
This book stood out to me for a number of reasons;
- Firstly, the book was set in Gozo. I follow Cally on Twitter and when she was doing her research for the book, naturally she visited the island. I loved seeing her views of the islands themselves and seeing her appreciate the beauty of one of the places I love the most.
- I’ve read, reviewed and adored her books in the past – so of course, my expectations for this book were also pretty high. You can check out my reviews of The Escape and The Lie here.
An intriguing story with lots of twists and turns – but I had a few niggles
I’ll start by saying I did enjoy this book – I ended up rating it as 3.5/5 stars which in my rating table, is a good book that I would recommend to others. I did, however, have a few niggles, a few of which Cally has already addressed in her acknowledgements but if I hadn’t read those, I probably would have felt a bit off.
The story crosses between perspectives and also between time periods – we are introduced to the story and quickly become aware that the characters are linked to the same tragedy; we have Fran, whose sister has gone missing and declared dead after a retreat on the island of Gozo; this retreat was run by Tom and his wife Kate, and Tom has recently been released from prison off the back of Fran’s sister’s disappearance and the deaths of two other retreat goers. I don’t recall us ever being told the grounds on which he was imprisoned, but I imagine this was for negligence. After being hasselled by her mum who is clearly not handling the loss of her daughter very well, Fran decides to embark on the ‘first’ retreat that Tom is hosting after his release – to find out the truth about what happened to her sister Jenna. We also get to see the book from Jenna’s perspective, 2 years previous when the ~dark and dirty~ events took place which was a nice perspective.
Whilst I did generally like the story – there were a good number of twists and turns, I did find that this book was far too similar in themes to the events of The Lie – and that book was probably one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a long, long time. I liked the characters to some extent but nothing about them really stood out to me and whilst I didn’t necessarily see the twist itself coming, it wasn’t something that made me thrilled in the way her previous books have made me.
I was brought up on the island of Malta and I was very excited to read a book that I assumed would be set there on Gozo – whilst we did have some flashbacks to Jenna’s tales on Gozo itself, I was disappointed that there wasn’t more description of the island itself. I also found myself a little bit frustrated by a reference to Daphne Caruana-Galizia and almost the implication that Gozo was renowned for covering up crimes – Cally did highlight this in the acknowledgements and say that this is not the case, but I think people who don’t read the acknowledgements may make some quite unfounded assumptions about the island and its politics. I think with things that that, you have to be both sensitive to the situation and informed and I’m not sure a thriller is the best place to be making such assertions – even if they’re just for the purpose of the plot.
Overall, a decent book with twists and turns that satisified some of my urges – but I was still a little bit peckish at the end.