A year-long diary set in LONDON
Crime thriller set in ENGLAND
17th November 2023
The Party Season by SJI Holiday, crime thriller set in England – in fictional Woodham.
The story is set in the run up to Christmas and the function suites in hotels are full to bursting with office revellers, the tinny festive muzak blares out at every opportunity to add a sense of desultory celebration. The author captures the soulless nature of the Christmas office get-together very well. “The Party Girl” finds her way into the various gatherings, picks up a man and if he is game for going to bed, she kills him. She clearly has an agenda.
We understand that her mother is in a care facility, in a vegetative state and early on we don’t know why. The costs are paid for by a benefactor. It is a strange place, run by a medical sponsor, a company that might just be trying out drugs on its patients. Still, not many are conscious, so a cupboard full of medication that is relatively easily plundered doesn’t seem to cause concern. The reader gradually comes to understand that The Party Girl has her deathly drive as a result of her childhood experience, the death of her father who took his own life and the lengths her mother had to go to in order to survive; there was also the involvement of another man who was behind the family’s demise. She is killing as a favour to the females of Woodham, apparently.
Randomly, Harry is dating Heather, who is a go-getter and bright scientific spark but he morphs into a parody of an abusive partner. He has a “right old rummage through her things” when he has the chance, unbeknown to her, and given she doesn’t invite him to her home, he sometimes takes himself off and sits outside her property. Yes, he has the propensity to be a stalker and he is described as having “weird energy“. Much of what he does to keep her hooked in is text book control, although he would beg to differ. There is even mention of rubber attire when he attends a fancy dress Christmas party without Heather, who has ditched him at that point. No worries, he has found himself another companion…..
And the police investigating the terrible deaths in the hotels predictably have their backstories.
‼️ This was an entertaining enough read. I have read this author’s work before and she always has an original take on a story. BUT, and it is a BIG but. The author describes a meeting in a Mcdonald’s between the investigating officers, where she describes the disinfectant smell as reminiscent of Zyklon B. If this noxious gas (used murderously in WW2) doesn’t ring any bells, then please look it up, you will be taken aback at its use here. It is a truly shocking aspect to have slipped through the editorial net and I even dialled back on the audiobook to ensure I had heard correctly. We are thankful in this day and age that we don’t know what that might smell like (if you did, you would be dead) and underlines that this is a gratuitous and abhorrent inclusion. I feel strongly that this is an egregious mistake that should have been erased, as it is offensive.
An engaging read if a little predictable.
Tina for the TripFiction Team
Catch the author on Twitter @SJIHolliday
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