Can we all agree to retire in media res? Or maybe just put it (and the unreliable narrator, for that matter) on the back burner for a couple of years?
Ellery Lloyd’s The Club establishes early that something nefarious has happened on the opening weekend of the exclusive Island Club — the latest in a long line of clubs where the rich and famous play in the lap of luxury. However, exactly who is murdered and why only slowly becomes apparent as the novel fills in a lot of gaps and introduces a lot of characters who have a very good motive to murder Ned Groom, owner and head of the Club, and a lot of other people staying on the island.
An interesting set-up for a locked-room mystery is pretty much squandered by the time we get around to the big reveals of who did what and their motive. The cast of this one is fairly large and each chapter rotates to the viewpoint of various characters with motives to do away with Ned, though it feels like a lot of the middle part of this book is treading water until Ned finally meets his final end (or does he?!? the book will tease).
As intriguing as the early set-up is, the central mystery itself is never quite as interesting as it should be. Part of that is Ned is portrayed as an all-around terrible person who really had it coming from a lot of the people on the island. While the book does try to create sympathy for everyone who comes into Ned’s sphere of influence, Ned himself keeps coming across as a complete jerk and you can see why people might stoop to murdering him. I suppose we don’t have to necessarily love the victim, but if everyone else can get time in the novel to be sympathetic, then so could Ned.
The Club isn’t necessarily one you’ll want to join for long. Try it at your own risk.