Chris Brookmyre: The Cliff House ★★★★☆

Attribution/author:Article by: Lynsey May
Publish date: 28 July 2022

Article Type:by:

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The critically acclaimed crime writer strikes again with a new hen do-set novel


In The Cliff House, award-winning crime writer Chris Brookmyre invites the reader along to a hen party soused in secrets and set to implode. The joy is in working out how. Seven women head off to a lavish weekend on a remote island with each of them bringing their own dark little secret along. But whose past transgression is the one that’s putting them all in danger?

There’s the hen, who is already doubting her husband-to-be; the famous singer who ditched another member of this party on her rise to the top; the morally compromised property developer who rented them this luxury pad in the first place. And that’s just the half of it. This is far from Brookmyre’s first rodeo, although the style is a departure from his crime novels you might be familiar with. You know you’re in experienced hands from the off, though, which is always a bonus when dealing with so many intertwining characters and storylines, and a decent amount of dialogue helps the story clip along at a pace while also helping to develop those various voices. 

Brookmyre clearly enjoys exploring the relationships between characters and the ways in which they are betrayed, undermined or reaffirmed. For readers, much of the fun is unpicking each trespass and deciding where it ranks in relation to the rest. While there is an overarching threat, individual revelations provide most of the dramatic tension. Brookmyre includes enough disclosures and reassessments to make this work. As with many thrillers, The Cliff House is most entertaining when the reader is able to suspend disbelief and allow the characters to make leaps where needed. A great read for the holidays, unless you’re heading to a remote hen-do. 

The Cliff House is out now.

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