EXCERPT: It wasn’t Nick sitting with a magazine on the shabby tartan sofa in the next room. My heart, which had been fluttering with expectation, began pounding with dread. I took a step back, hoping to get away, though I knew I couldn’t. Nestled innocently between the sofa cushions, gently illuminated by the firelight, was someone I didn’t want to see at all. Someone I’d been avoiding for a year. Someone I’d hoped never to see again.
ABOUT ‘AULD ACQUAINTANCE’: Millie Partridge desperately needs a party. So, when her (handsome and charming) ex-colleague Nick invites her to a Hebridean Island for New Year’s Eve, she books her ticket North.
But things go wrong the moment the ferry drops her off. The stately home is more down at heel than Downton Abbey. Nick hasn’t arrived yet. And the other revellers? Politely, they aren’t exactly who she would have pictured Nick would be friends with.
Worse still, an old acquaintance from Millie’s past has been invited, too. Penny Maybury. Millie and Nick’s old colleague. Somebody Millie would rather have forgotten about. Somebody, in fact, that Millie has been trying very hard to forget.
Waking up on New Year’s Eve, Penny is missing. A tragic accident? Or something more sinister? With a storm washing in from the Atlantic, nobody will be able reach the group before they find out.
One thing is for sure – they’re going to see in the new year with a bang.
MY THOUGHTS: I loved this tense, atmospheric page turner of a ‘locked room mystery’; or, in this case, an isolated Hebridean island. Using the same format as the reknowned Christie novel ‘And Then There Were None’, which I must admit is not one of my favourites, Slater had me eagerly flipping the pages in this short – a little less than 300 pages – but riveting story. And yes, I have rated Auld Acquaintance higher than the Christie. I enjoyed it more.
The setting is a remote and isolated island; ‘a resentful rock’ easily cut off from the world in bad weather, just as they are having this New Year. It is a character in its own right.
Millie has been invited to the Island party by an ex-boyfriend she is hopeful of resuming her relationship with. But when she arrives on the Island, Nick is not there. Cut off by a storm, two other guests dead en-route, Millie becomes uneasy. Winston, one of the other guests, a lawyer scares her and she doesn’t trust him. She is shocked to find Penny, a quiet, mousey ex-work colleague is also among the guests, along with a glamorous but prickly influencer Bella, and her handsome but somewhat profligate partner, Ravi. Then there’s James, who doesn’t really seem to fit in anywhere, and their hostess Mrs Flyte, a rather peculiar woman not inclined to answer the questions of her guests – particularly the questions about the source of this booking. They were all invited – but by whom? And why?
I honestly didn’t know who to suspect. The author ramps up the tension in a creepy old house in an isolated location with a mixed bag of guests who initially seem to have no connection, nothing in common. Throughout the story, I had no idea who was behind the killings, or why, no matter how much I wracked my brain.
Cleverly written and a fun read.
#contemporaryfiction #murdermystery #scottishnoir
THE AUTHOR: Sofia Slater was raised in the American West, and lived in France, Scotland and Oxford before settling in London. As well as writing fiction, she translates from French and Spanish. Auld Acquaintance is her debut novel.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Swift Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Auld Acquaintance by Sofia Slater for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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