**** - Her Last Holiday
HER LAST HOLIDAY
You come to Soul Shrink to be healed. You don’t expect to die.
Two years ago, Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on a wellness retreat in Gozo that went terribly wrong.
Tom Wade, the now infamous man behind Soul Shrink Retreats, has just been released from prison after serving his sentence for the deaths of 2 people. But he has never let on what happened to the third suspected victim: Jenna.
Determined to find out the truth, Fran books herself onto his upcoming retreat – the first since his release – and finds herself face to face with the man who might hold the key to her sister’s disappearance. The only question is, will she escape the retreat alive? Or does someone out there want Jenna’s secrets to stay hidden?
The master of suspense is back. Prepare yourself for the latest nail-shredding, heart-in-mouth rollercoaster ride from the Sunday Times bestseller.
THE REVIEW ****
I feel like C.L Taylor and I share very similar interests in true crime topics! Taylor has written so many books that I have really enjoyed and something I really admire is that they are all on different themes - she isn’t afraid to step out of her comfort zone and push to find a new way of telling an interesting story. Her Last Holiday really reminded me of a podcast I listened to recently called ‘Guru’ by Wondery which tells the true story of Arthur James Ray - a self help guru who went to prison after killing people in a sweat lodge as part of a retreat he was running. There is a lot of similarities here, with fictional Fran trying to find out what happened to her sister who disappeared at a similar retreat where others had died.
The story is split into pieces – we have a past and present timeline between the two sisters that alternates and then there is also a perspective from Kate who is dating the Guru himself. There’s a lot of twists and turns (I’d expect nothing less!) and quite a few surprises that I did not expect throughout. The flashbacks could have gotten confusing but this is not the case here with assured writing which keeps the pace up throughout. We got a lot of background into the drama happening at the past retreat but I would have perhaps liked to see a little more build up to the sweat lodge and the experience itself as it’s not really spelt out what in particular causes the characters to die.
Our main character Fran is interesting – she is a no-nonsense teacher in her 50s who is posing as her retired mother in order to access the retreat. Although some interactions with her were quite refreshing as she struggles to navigate social conventions, I felt like this could have been pushed further in places. I kept picturing her as around 30 years old instead of 50! It perhaps doesn’t help that her sister is so much younger than her though.
At least two characters are pretending to be other people in the book and this does sometimes make things confusing. There are times when a character is yelling the other person’s real name outside their door which I thought was a little unrealistic as anyone could have heard them. In the ARC that I was given there are also some major mistakes where a character refers to someone as the wrong name to a character that would have had a large reaction if they had known the truth. This made the prose jarring as I was first shocked they had given the game away or slipped up but then there is no reaction from the other person so it seems to have just been a mistake in the editing – I have flagged this to the publisher and hopefully it will be fixed by the time of publication.
Overall Her Last Holiday is a gripping read and another great read from C.L Taylor – I look forward to the next one! Thank you to NetGalley & Avon Books UK for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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