Halfway through the dinner party Sarah Beaumont decided that she would definitely leave Martin, her husband of ten years.
As the thought blossomed in her mind she blushed. Bowing her head to hide her flushed cheeks, she toyed with the peas on her plate, chasing one behind a piece of sautéed potato before stabbing it with her fork. To tell the truth, she wished she wasn’t there at all, sitting round the table with a bunch of jabbering strangers, one of whom was Martin.
That's pretty much the high point of the book for Sarah and Martin. Come to think of it, things go downhill for pretty much everyone at the dinner party. Before the meal is even complete, the wheels come off and disaster ensues.
In addition to Sarah and her jerk of a husband, the dinner party is made up of Martin's friend/lawyer and his girlfriend, Martin's bank manager (probably Sarah's, too, but Martin's the only one he deals with), and their temporary neighbor -- a crime writer from the States. Naturally, they spend the bulk of the meal discussing a missing -- and presumed dead -- librarian. We get to spend time with each of them as we watch things fall apart. I'm pretty sure almost anything I say beyond this point will be a spoiler, and I've written and re-written the next sentence a dozen times (and what will be posted will be none of those).
You know those episodes of Frasier where there's a misunderstanding of some sort, and things start to go wrong, and then things snowball out of control until the last couple of minutes when it all seems to get worse as he explains everything? Yeah, I know, that's like 47% of the episodes. So you know what I'm saying.
This is a lot like that -- but instead of Frasier's career, or Niles' reputation, or the fate of Martin's chair; we're dealing with life, death, murder charges, police and decomposition rates.
It's gripping, it's funny, it's chaotic, it's a riot. Morgan's got a great style, an interesting vocabulary, and a plot that will keep you guessing. I probably shouldn't have said chaotic -- this is a carefully choreographed dance, as flashy and exciting as the best contender at the Jackrabbit Slim's Twist Contest (or something less fun, like Dancing with the Stars).
There's one big string left dangling at the end -- which drives me crazy. It's really not important, but she did such a great job tieing up the rest of the loose strings so it's presence is worse. But given as fun as the rest of the book is, it's totally forgivable. This one is a treat, you should give it a read. And if you do, maybe you can do a better job of selling this outrageous novel than I can.