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Sunday 12 August 2018

‘The Party’ by Lisa Hall

Published by HQ,
26 July 2018.
ISBN: 978-0-00-818120-8 (PB)

We've all been there – the morning after the night before, the hangover from hell and no memory of what kind of a fool we were at the party. Except...

Rachel can't remember a thing after arriving at the New Year's Eve bash with her husband, but the pain and bruises she wakes up with seem to suggest that whatever she did, it wasn't exactly by choice. She's pretty sure her drink was spiked and she was raped, so she goes to the police.

But a ridiculously small percentage of reported rapes result in conviction, and Rachel has no evidence beyond the bruises. No one else at the party saw anything, or if they did, they aren't saying. And to make it worse, her marriage has been decidedly rocky ever since she had a fling with her son's friend's father a few months earlier.

She's advised to let it go, move on and get on with her life. But it's not that easy. Haunted by whatever happened on New Year's Eve during that black hole in her memory, Rachel sets out to fill the gap and identify the culprit herself and goes in search of people she knew were at the party. There's Liz, always perfectly turned out, make-up immaculate even at breakfast time. Amy is Rachel's closest friend, brisk and supportive. Katie is younger than the others, less confident, and even glamorous Melody is less sure of herself than she seems.

The men are a mixed bunch too. Gareth, Rachel's husband, is taciturn and caught up in work problems. Ted, her former lover, is desperately afraid of losing his son to his estranged wife. Aaron is borderline creepy. And everyone has secrets they prefer not to find their way on to the grapevine.

Outside the group there's Carrie, the sympathetic but harassed police rape counsellor, keen to get a result for Rachel, but hampered by the lack of evidence. Until something totally unexpected turns up...

The result is a picture of a middle England community full of secrets and lies. Lisa Hall creates as varied a group of neighbours as you're likely to find in any middle-class village and weaves them into a taut plot with a denouement no one was expecting, least of all me.

The Party is well put together and peopled with characters and situations which will strike a chord with most people. 
Reviewer Lynne Patrick

Lisa Hall loves words, reading and everything there is to love about books. She has dreamed of being a writer since she was a little girl – either that or a librarian - and after years of talking about it, was finally brave enough to put pen to paper (and let people actually read it). Lisa lives in a small village in Kent, surrounded by her towering TBR pile, a rather large brood of children, dogs, chickens and ponies and her long-suffering husband. She is also rather partial to eating cheese and drinking wine.

Readers can follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaHallAuthor

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire

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