Her Last Holiday by C.L. Taylor

‘What really happened two years ago?’

At a wellness retreat on Gozo two years ago, two people died, and one person disappeared. Tom Wade, the man behind SoulShrink Retreats, has just been released from prison after serving a sentence for the two deaths. But what about the missing person? Fran’s sister Jenna is the one who disappeared. Tom’s wife Kate has been awaiting his release from prison and she is determined to get their lives back on track by relaunching SoulShrink. Another retreat is planned for Wales.

Fran and Jenna’s mother, Geraldine, sees this new retreat as an opportunity to find out what happened to Jenna. She books a place for Fran and bullies her into taking it.

What follows is complicated. Fran, under the cover of an alias, attends the retreat. A journalist, also under cover, is there as well. We follow the story through the viewpoints in the present of Kate and Fran, with Jenna’s view from the past. Moving between the original retreat in Gozo and the retreat in Wales involves many characters, some of whom were in both locations. What really happened to Jenna?

Ms Taylor provides a caste of flawed characters challenging the reader to identify who can be trusted (and when). While I enjoyed the suspense, some aspects of the story did not work for me and I did not enjoy this novel quite as much as I have enjoyed other novels by Ms Taylor. But, if you are after a fast-moving suspenseful tale and improbability doesn’t worry you too much then you may well enjoy this more than I did.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books UK for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith