The Fifth Guest | Jenny Knight

The Fifth Guest book cover


The Fifth Guest is a riveting, and very toxic, thriller – and I loved every moment!

Jenny Knight’s narrative is utterly compelling, fast-paced and gripping; I gulped it down in one spellbound session. The story is so absorbing, it’s impossible to put aside: the reader is like a fly on the wall as the story unfolds in Caro’s home.

The setting is brilliant, with the dinner party at Caro’s reminiscent of all the best locked-room mysteries, but with a sparkling modernity that is enticing and incisive. As the story swings from past to present, more and more details are uncovered, gradually revealing the truth. Of course, I tried to guess who had committed murder and, as a result of the superb writing, of course I was completely wrong. Knight feeds details and obfuscation with fascinating and convincing efficiency.

The characters are so realistic, and the sexism of elite rowing at Oxford is vividly – enragingly – portrayed. The contrast between public persona and realistic life with its vulnerabilities, family and parental pressure, hopes, fears and desires is intelligently and sensitively illustrated, making for a truly captivating read. There’s jealousy and sexual tension – particularly through Caro and Henry – entitlement and insecurity, all woven together inextricably to enhance both plot and character.

The narrative is engaging and unnerving

I found Elle the most appealing, but loathed Henry completely, and the way Lily’s personality and relationship with Travis is uncovered is mesmerising. However, as each of the five so-called friends was revealed and events unfolded, I became fairly certain that murder might have been possible for me, because Knight so manipulates her readers and their perceived morality. This is a narrative with real and unnerving impact.

There are big themes here too, from unhappy marriage to drug dealing, and impoverished backgrounds to education. So, while The Fifth Guest is a cracking thriller, it’s also a razor-sharp insight into society at all levels, with the satisfying message that the grass isn’t always greener and sometimes we need to be thankful for what we have.

The Fifth Guest is a wonderfully entertaining, engaging and exciting thriller. I thought it was an absolute cracker.

The Fifth Guest by Jenny Knight is out now (HQ, £8.99) and available from Amazon.

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