The Launch Party
Author: Lauren Forry
Genre: Murder Mystery/Whodunnit
Published by Bonnier Books UK(An imprint of HarperCollins)
MRP: Rs. 499/-
Book Review in collaboration with @bookreviewersclub and @harpercollinsin
Lauren Forry's brilliant new novel The Launch Party is set in the most unique of closed-room mystery settings - a luxurious hotel on the moon! This original, high concept thriller will take you on a rollercoaster ride filled with shocking twists and turns.
The story follows Detective Penelope Strand as she boards the shuttle to the Hotel Artemis along with 9 other contest winners. Penelope suffers from a fear of flying and open spaces, so this trip is especially challenging for her. As the first commercial guests of the hotel, excitement is high. But things take a dark turn when famous reality TV star Bobby Rannells turns up dead with a mysterious message staked next to his body.
With no staff in sight and no way to contact Earth, paranoia takes over the group. Penelope takes charge of the investigation, but her search for the killer is hindered by the complex layout of the space hotel. To make matters worse, the emergency signal they send gets sabotaged by an unknown culprit.
Trapped on the moon with a murderer on the loose, the tension ramps up exponentially. Forry excels at depicting the panicked emotions of the guests as they start seeing danger in every corner. The haunting background score of "Fly Me to the Moon" playing on a loop enhances the creepy atmosphere.
As detective Penelope interrogates the guests, hidden secrets and motives begin to unravel. The closed-off setting makes everyone a suspect, even those you least expect. Forry keeps you guessing till the final shocking reveal. Red herrings and twists abound aplenty. The unique lunar hotel backdrop adds novelty and richness to standard mystery tropes.
The characters are all fully fleshed out, each with their own quirks, flaws and suspicious backstories. There's Tonya, an alcoholic tabloid journalist hated by the entire nation. There's handsome casanova Dr Erik Wyss who practices assisted suicide. Young student Freddy was once an accused murder suspect. Brooding billionaire Uchida purchased his spot illegally. And what secrets lurk behind church architect Sasha's gentle exterior? Each character jumps off the page, making you both empathize and suspect them at the same time.
Forry's writing skills are top notch, delivering white-knuckled suspense through skillful plotting and a fast yet steady build-up. She maintains the tension masterfully, with pulse-pounding cliffhangers and creepy atmosphere. The pacing allows you to catch your breath before ramping up the suspense again.
The unique lunar hotel setting almost acts as an additional character, its labyrinthine corridors and hidden passages adding to the claustrophobia. Forry does a stellar job of bringing the high-tech moon hotel to life with vivid descriptions. The futuristic technology like biometric door scanners co-exists with old-fashioned prison bars, letting you easily picture each scene.
Agatha Christie meets Alien in this ingenious locked-room mystery set against the most dangerous closed setting imaginable. As an homage to classic whodunnits, The Launch Party delivers nostalgia while still feeling fresh. It remains faithful to the genre with eccentric characters, dramatic reveals and drawing room confrontations. Only this drawing room is 239,000 miles away on the moon!
Forry has executed this high-concept premise brilliantly, achieving a perfect blend of sci-fi and mystery. The final twist is just the icing on the cake, leaving you stunned. The Launch Party is a rollercoaster ride of entertainment bursting with imagination. Pick up this stellar thriller and get transported to an out-of-this-world mystery!
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