Title: The Dinner Guest by B. P. Walter
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Rating: 4.75 Stars
The opening to The Dinner Guest was interesting as it opens with the murder of Matthew shortly followed by the arrest of Rachel. We learn that Matthew and Charlie are a same sex married couple and Matthew has a son Titus and they live a normal life in the Chelsea borough of London although certain parts are staged for Charlie’s Instagram. These posts are seen by Rachel and she sees their life as perfect and wants to be a part of our so with the money she left from her mother she quits her job and moves to London. Rachel ends up meeting Charlie in Waterstones for the first time and shortly after in M&S Matthew invites her to his book club to Charlie’s surprise. Knowing Rachel deliberately moved to London to be near the family and instigated a way into their lives makes her seem crazy. However, we learn in the present timeline since the novel bounces between the day of the murder and the year leading to it that Titus asks why Rachel would confess to Matthew’s murder when she didn’t do it so this is going to be a journey of learning whether Rachel actually killed Matthew or if Charlie, Titus or someone else is responsible.
As we approach the ¼ mark in the novel, we are getting to know the characters better and it seems like Rachel is a bit crazy as she begins snooping around the family home and seems to have an unnatural interest in Titus. Charlie catches her in their bedroom and begins to get really suspicious of her but let’s it go for now because he doesn’t see her doing anything wrong but he is wary of her. This increased when Titus was mugged and Rachel saved him as she just happened to be in the area and when Charlie voices his concern to Matthew he doesn’t see the harm in it at all. However, when they learn that Titus was going to see an 18 year old girl when he himself is 14 Matthew is worried and Charlie doesn’t see the harm in it since Matthew’s own first time was when he was 15 and the partner was 17 so they decide to wait and see where it goes. In the present chapters we learn that Titus was responsible for Matthew’s death and Charlie’s parents are going to protect him at all costs even if it means Rachel going to prison for him since she is obviously covering for him but the question is why Titus killed his father.
As we cross the ¼ mark in the novel, the mysteries surrounding the family and Rachel are beginning to get deeper and multiply. Charlie is beginning to relax around Rachel but once again becomes unnerved when his mother thinks she knows Rachel from somewhere and Rachel’s perspectives confirms this but doesn’t show us how she knows Charlie and his family. As Christmas approaches we see Charlie also beginning to get suspicious of Matthew, he learnt earlier in the book that Matthew had a relationship with a woman as a young man which Charlie can’t write off because Matthew was too old to be experimenting but he had never mentioned darling any women in the past. Charlie’s suspicions are heightened when Matthew can’t join them for the first day of their Christmas getaway then takes an odd phone call before going out for a drive which lasts hours. Matthew claims the car broke down and he had to walk through fields to get a signal but his shoes are incredibly clean and this all points to Matthew having an affair or maybe even another family altogether and I can’t wait to find out why Titus killed Matthew and why Rachel is taking the blame.
As we approach the halfway mark in the novel, things keep getting stranger and stranger but I was totally invested in the story. We learn that Titus isn’t Matthew’s son but his nephew who he adopted after his sister died from cancer which was touching. Rachel is working her way into Charlie and Matthew’s lives and she seems to be on a revenge mission but against who and why is unclear but Titus seems to play a big role in it as Rachel is closest to him. She also gets very close to Charlie’s godmother who offers her a job as her personal assistant and even moves Rachel in with her while her apartment is being done up for Rachel to move into. By the time they annual New York trip arrives Rachel learns that she is going along as well and Charlie doesn’t like it at all. He voices his concerns to Matthew but he doesn’t seem interested at all and Charlie is becoming more and more sure that Matthew is having an affair but he can’t prove it. We also learn from the present timeline that the murder seems to have been planned in some aspect and Charlie’s father is getting involved because he’s a man you turn to when you need things done and he has a very shady past which could explain Rachel’s interest in the family to begin with. There seems to be so much going on and I can’t wait to see where it goes in the second half.
As we cross into the second half of the novel the mystery around Matthew’s death and the events leading up to it as becoming deeper and more confused. I think the suspicion on Rachel is a red herring even after she was caught on Titus’s room in only a bikini and he was naked. Charlie has also become a lot more suspicious of Matthew as he attempts to check his phone but can’t get into it and then at a friend’s golden wedding anniversary he practically drags Charlie away demanding they leave looking dishevelled at best. They might also be something going on between Charlotte and his ex, Rupert but I don’t believe its sexual as it feels more emotional. Since the death of Matthew, Titus had been very quiet and we haven’t seen much of him but when we have he isn’t saying much and doesn’t want to talk about the night of the murder. Despite this the police are asking questions that the family don’t want them asking since it points the dinner at Titus for Matthew’s death which they are trying to prevent.
As we approach the ¾ mark in the novel, we get a lot more information that comes to light explaining the reasoning behind part of the murder and how Matthew and Rachel know each other and her interest in Titus. It turns out Matthew’s sister, Collette was dating Rachel’s brother, Johnny. Johnny was a known drug addict and criminal and was actively destroying Collette’s life. Matthew convinces Collette along with their parents to go to rehab and leave Johnny but Johnny pays Matthew a visit tormenting him and frightening to the point where he will has nightmares about that night before getting back together with Collette. After that Matthew and Collette didn’t really talk until they went to Norway with some friends until Johnny arrives and Matthew flies home without his sister. Months later she still hasn’t returned so he goes back or there only to learn that he has a nephew, Titus and it is clear neither Johnny or Collette at this point are fit to be parents. Matthew ends up making one last attempt before leaving but he finds Johnny in the hot tub with Titus and he is almost drowning the baby because he had passed out. He rescues the baby and leaves Johnny to drown which Rachel accidently captures on her camera although she doesn’t know it at the time. This explains why Rachel wants to be part of Titus’s live and why Matthew was so eager to get away from her but I can’t wait to see the reasoning behind his murder maybe Titus find out what Matthew did to his father.
As we cross into the final section of the novel, everything finally becomes clear and this whole book has been a web of deceit and infidelity. I am not going to talk about the plot twists too much since this book is a slow burn and that ending really pays off but the killer isn’t who we are led to believe it is and the reasoning behind the murder was great. I also liked how Titus seems to be following in the footsteps of his father and someone steps in to stop it and leaves the book on a huge cliff-hanger leaving things up to the reader’s imagination or it could be a potential opening for a sequel at some point. Overall, The Dinner Guest keeps you hooked from the first to last sentence and wanting more when it is over. The only reason this book wasn’t a five star read for me was because it was such a slow burn and this didn’t get really interesting until the last 100 or so pages but I would still highly recommend it to anyone looking for a gripping mystery, thriller with some killer plot twists.
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