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Monday, March 28, 2022

The Long Weekend: Even My Least Favorite Gilly Macmillan Thriller Holds Me Spellbound

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

 As long-time friends from boarding school, Paul, Mark, Toby, Rob, and Edie have enjoyed getting together over the years along with their spouses. When an available weekend provides the perfect opportunity for another reunion, the group pounces on the chance to reconnect. Dark Fell Barn is ideal for the event. The guesthouse's remote Northumbria location makes it as off-the-grid as the couples are likely to get. With no distractions or cell phone signals, the friends will have plenty of time to bond once again.

Jayne Pavey, Ruth Land, and Emily Ramsay drive to Northumbria together. Their husbands, all of whom have been delayed for various reasons, will be joining them that evening. Already a bit tense without the mens' long friendship to bind them, the trio is disturbed to realize just how isolated Dark Fell Barn really is. When they find a note waiting for them, informing them that one of their husbands is about to be murdered, they fly into a frenzy. Is it some kind of terrible practical joke? Edie, who declined the weekend getaway in the wake of her own husband's death, was known as a prankster in school. Could her grief be causing her to lash out at one of them? As the women frantically attempt to get ahold of their spouses, new surprises add to their growing terror. With a vicious storm breaking over the moors, the woman are trapped with a slew of horrifying questions: What is really going on here? Who would play such a sordid trick on the group? Why would anyone do something so completely cruel? And how are they going to escape with worsening weather and no way to call for help?

I've read all of Gilly Macmillan's spooky thrillers, which never fail to suck me in and hold me spellbound. While The Long Weekend (available March 29, 2022)—the author's newest—is probably my least favorite of hers, it still kept me buzzing through the pages, eager to see what was going to happen next. Its creepy, atmospheric vibe and tense, taut storytelling ensured I wouldn't be able to look away. That being said, the friends at the center of the story are not super likable. While some are more appealing than others, overall, they're just not a very charming bunch. As is quite usual in these kinds of novels, where dark secrets and jealousies are being revealed, the story is depressing and sad. Although there's a twist I expected but didn't actually see coming, I did have the killer pegged before their identity was revealed. All in all, then, I didn't end up loving The Long Weekend, although it did keep me reading pretty intensely. Macmillan has that effect on me, no matter what she writes! Still, I definitely wanted a bit more from her latest.

(Readalikes: Reminds me of other books by Gilly Macmillan as well as those by Ruth Ware, Lucy Foley, and Paula Hawkins)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, mild sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love: I received an e-ARC of The Long Weekend from the generous folks at HarperCollins via those at Edelweiss Plus in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
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Swimming in a Sea of Stars by Julie Wright

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The Tobacco Wives by Adele Myer



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