Ever have the feeling you're being watched? A smart, unsettling, unputdownable literary thriller from the award-winning, critically acclaimed writer
Lina and Cain are doing their best to stay afloat. Money has been tight since Cain returned from active duty, and starting a family is proving harder than they thought.
Putting Lina's inherited lake house up for rent at weekends seems like the solution to at least one of their problems. The secluded house is more of a burden than a retreat, anyway, and fixing up the old place makes Cain feel useful for once.
But letting strangers stay in their house might not be the best idea. Someone is watching - their most mundane tasks, their most intimate moments - and all the things Lina and Cain want to keep hidden will be exposed.
A darkly riveting psychological thriller from the bestselling author of Call Me Evie, In the Clearing and Tell Me Lies.
'J.P. Pomare's first two books rocked my world - this one manages to exceed them. The Last Guests is a cunning, complex, contemporary thrill-ride.' Christian White, author of The Nowhere Child
'The Last Guests is a twisty thriller with an ending I didn't see coming. A cautionary tale for our times.' Megan Goldin, author of The Night Swim
'The Last Guests will have you moving off-grid and throwing your cellphone in the nearest lake. This nerve-wracking, fast-paced tale takes all our fears about surveillance technology and twists them into one nightmarish Gordian knot. Carefully constructed, chilling and compelling, Pomare's latest creation will keep you guessing right up to the last page.' Rose Carlyle, author of The Girl in the Mirror
'Meticulously plotted and relentlessly tense, The Last Guests is J.P. Pomare at the top of his psych-thriller game. On one hand, it's an innovative, exhilarating and deeply unsettling story about technology and the underbelly of cyber-crime . . . On the other, it's a sharp and thoughtful exploration of marriage, intimacy, trust and the things we do for love. The characters and settings get right under your skin and stay there. Couldn't put it down, can't stop thinking about it. Bump it to the top of your must-read list immediately.' Anna Downes, author of The Safe Place
'There's no doubt about it: Pomare is a master of the carefully constructed, impeccably paced psycho-thriller.'
'Reading J.P. Pomare is like watching a magic trick. While you focus on his hands, you fail to see what's really happening right in front of your eyes, or behind you, or outside your window.' Michael Robotham
'One of the mos
- Publication Date:
- 28 / 07 / 2021
A compelling thriller
The Last Guests is another superlative thriller from the pen of Australia-based Kiwi author J.P. Pomare. This time around, Pomare explores the dark side of the sharing economy and employs New Zealand's central North Island as a setting.
The book opens with a tantalising scene of a black-clad operative installing covert cameras into a short-stay accommodation property. Following this brief prologue, the story is told mostly from the perspective of Lina, a thirty-something ambulance paramedic who lives with her former SAS soldier -turned personal trainer husband Cain in Auckland, New Zealand. They're happily married, but there are some difficulties they're facing - Cain remains traumatised by his experiences when deployed in Afghanistan, he's having difficulty re-establishing himself in the civilian world and has battled an addiction to gambling, which has placed their personal finances in jeopardy. Meanwhile, Lina is still recovering from having suffered a miscarriage and struggles with resentment for their closest friends, Cain's army mate Axel and his wife Claire, who are not only enjoying financial success, but have just announced their own pregnancy. Lina commits a risky and uncharacteristic act of infidelity, her motivations for which become clearer over the course of the novel.
The narrative is punctuated with excerpts from online discussions in an subscriber-only group for voyeurs called Peephole. Like the subscribers, readers consequently become privy to a different perspective on the novel's characters and settings.
Meanwhile, Axel and Claire suggest that Cain and Lina could generate much-needed additional income by listing their holiday home on stunning Lake Tarawera on holiday letting app WeStay (a similar online model to Airbnb or Stayz.com). Cain is immediately taken with the idea, but Lina is more cautious - the house is her former family home, where she grew up in her grandparents' care, and she's not sure she's comfortable with the idea of renting it out to total strangers. Despite her misgivings, Cain convinces her to give WeStay a go and they prepare the lakeside property for visitors.
At first, things seem to be working out for them, but Lina soon starts receiving troubling text messages and a weekend away at Lake Tarawera turns into a nightmarish experience for herself and Cain. Who's behind the threats to their privacy and safety, and can things ever return to the way they were before?
Given that the pivotal high-action thriller sequence in The Last Guests takes place at around the halfway mark, Pomare structures his plot masterfully to maintain tension and mystery to the end. There's a palpable sense of lurking menace throughout, and plenty of foreshadowing, while several unexpected twists and turns await the reader by the conclusion. While both Lina and Cain are flawed characters, they're sufficiently well-developed to engage the reader's sympathy and investment in their fates. Having visited Rotorua and the beautiful Lake Tarawera region a couple of decades ago, I appreciated the quintessentially New Zealand setting created by Pomare - an aspect of his writing with which readers dedicated to his work will already be familiar.
I'd highly recommend The Last Guests to all readers who enjoy top-notch thriller / suspense, with compelling plots, believable characters and great settings.