The Last Party By Clare Mackintosh: Review/Giveaway

Dec 17, 2022 | 2022 Articles, Kathleen Costa, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Kathleen Costa

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.

Two Sides of the Same Coin
Thirty-year-old Ffion (F?-on) Morgan has been divorced for a year and now living with her “mam” Elen. She is an adult, and in her defense, mentions it often, but her mother continues to be the same nosy, overprotective woman she was when Ffi Wyllt (Wild Ffion) earned her moniker. She has no children, doesn’t want any, but her sister Seren is a teenaged handful. Her dating life is more the “no entanglement” kind. But, of course, there are always surprises.

Thirty-six-year-old Leo Brady is divorced five years and dealing with a difficult ex. Her resistance to allow him reasonable access to his son is frustrating which gives her cause to record any outburst as “his temper” and to remind him of the other incident about which she didn’t call the police and could still notify Social Services at anytime. He hates his apartment and his bully of a superior, and although he is dating, it can be complicated. But, of course, there are always surprises.

The Last Party Earns 5+/5 Icy Waters…Compelling & Suspenseful Gem!
New Year’s Day has its traditions in the village of Cwn Coed (coom coyd), and one of them is jumping into the freezing waters of Llyn Drych (thlin dreech) in any manner of dress or undress. It’s a local affair since the last thing anyone wants is some “incomer,” unaccustomed with the weather and the terrain, getting hurt. Several participants, however, are suffering the after effects of the big New Year’s Eve party, but as the Klaxon sounds, they’re…brrrrready. But, a scream causes everyone to freeze, and rumors go wild as the body of a man washes up on shore. Young DC Morgan arrives home after having spent her “Eve” somewhere else (don’t ask; she is an adult), and learns of the discovery. She immediately heads off to the North Wales Police station.

DC Leo Brady arrives at the Cheshire Major Crime Unit and heads to his boss’s office. A body has washed up on the shore of Mirror Lake (English translation), and jurisdiction is complicated. The Google map shows the border between Wales and England now runs right through the middle of the lake, so knowing where the body went into the lake and where it landed is key. A missing person’s report had been made by the wife and daughters of Rhys Lloyd, world renowned singer and creator of The Shore, a new upscale vacation residence. Leo is sent out to confirm the body’s identity, but getting involved has its stipulations. Accident? Let them have it. No hope of a result? Let them have it. Leo heads off to the mortuary to meet the Welsh DC in charge.

The lake, Llyn Drych to the Welsh and Mirror Lake to the English, separates the two countries, two communities, and two people, and is complicated by the body lost on one side, yet found on the other. However, to find a killer it’s going to require cooperation, determination, some avoidance, swallowing of pride, curtailing anger, and a serious effort to ignore the obvious emotional and physical connection.

First Case Gem! I willingly went beyond my traditional cozy comfort zone with Clare Mackintosh’s new series…and I don’t regret my decision! It checked the boxes of many of the elements to make it a top contender for my best of 2022: UK setting (love Wales), strong female lead with realistic flaws and secrets, clever detective drama, complex investigation, and maybe some sexual tension thrown in for spice. The victim was a good karmic choice, made more obvious as the story unfolds, but it’s clear several other suspects with secrets of their own need some karmic intervention, too. The case is “couldn’t put down” complicated, yet easy to follow, and the clues are revealed through the detectives’ investigation along with insights from flashbacks. Anger about the victim’s development project, an obsessed fan, a stalker, a few residents with problems needing to keep private, and disgruntled family or friends seem typical, yet engaging, motives. It gets intense with the veiled suggestion of connections closer to one of the investigators. The two detectives are both talented even though they are dealing with personal challenges in their career related to gender and race, but they just have to put aside the snarky retorts and work together.

Clare Mackintosh’s writing style is extraordinarily clever with a complex investigation that not only entangles those close to the victim, but also those involved in the investigation. Although the drama with its twists and turns is very reminiscent of the Vera Stanhope series by Ann Cleeves, Mackintosh offers her own witty humor, intensity, hidden connections, a myriad of suspects and motives, and of course, an OMG conclusion. With two countries, two police units, and two detectives, it’s not a surprise that the narration has multiple third-person perspectives, Ffion, Leo, and the victim, of course, but family, key players, and other guests at the New Year’s Eve party are included. The chapter titles inform readers the point of view along with a date to indicate the flashbacks (excellent element) that offer insights into events from months and days before and also the night of the party itself. She incorporates many Welsh language phrases adding to the air of realism, but there’s always an immediate translation or obvious context which leaves no one confused. I was blown away by the well-developed and compelling story, the various personalities, multi-generational characters, and an investigation that led to a surprise conclusion and a final conundrum … Don’t miss this gem!

Enjoy these Extras! For a book club gathering use the Reading Group Guide with ten thought-provoking questions to jumpstart a discussion. Through A Conversation with the Author Clare Mackintosh answers questions about inspiration, character development, writing process, ideas on multiple perspectives, and final thoughts on key resolutions.

Be a Big Clare Mackintosh Fan!
Clare Mackintosh lives in North Wales which gives her the expertise and experience to create this first book in the series. There is a second book in the works and whether Leo will answer Maeve’s call is a question to be answered. Follow her at Facebook: Clare Mack Writes or join the Clare Mackintosh Book Club at Website: Clare Mackintosh.

To enter to win a copy of The Last Party, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “party” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 31, 2022. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new Christmas episode went up this week.

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link. You can also click here to purchase the book.

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying year 2 of retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband of 26+ years.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Sounds interesting! Count me in!

  2. Sounds like a great book. Thanks for the chance.

  3. Jumping into freezing water sounds like fun.
    Would rather have fun reading this book.
    thanks. txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

  4. I enjoy thriller/suspense books as well. Always in the lookout for a good one.

  5. The Last Party By Clare Mackintosh sounds like a book that will keep readers on the edge of their seats!

  6. We have a winner!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.