An Impressive Debut Novel Exploring The Darker Side Of Human Nature | “The Summer Party” by Rebecca Heath

Rebecca Heath is one of Australia’s newest contribution to the ever-growing list of mystery-thriller writers. “The Summer Party” is Heath’s debut novel and I must say she has entered the arena with a bang.

The story depicts the events happening in two different timelines — one in the year 2000 and the other in the present day — at the Whitlam mansion in Queen’s Point, with the past events culminating in a party at the house and the present dealing with the repercussions of that party. In 2000, Lucy, who considers herself in one of the inner circles of the influential Whitlam family while staying with her Nan at Queen’s Point during the summer, witnesses something out of the ordinary but is not able to remember it completely.

In 2019, the discovery of a body near the Whitlam place prompts Lucy, now living in Adelaide, to revisit the place and reconnect with her old friends. But when the remains are identified as Brooke Whitlam, her friends’ mother, the police start digging up old secrets and Lucy is forced to remember that long-forgotten summer. She is compelled to see both her friends and look at the life she has lived so far in a different light; she is also inevitably forced to confront the truth of what happened on that fateful night.

Heath has used this story of dual timelines, which is basically a whodunit mystery, as a tool to explore a repugnant side of human nature and explore the selfish and darker facets we can possess. The story is predominantly told in Lucy’s viewpoint, but it also shifts to the perspective of other key characters intermittently. Heath manages to grip the reader’s attention soon after the book starts and the way the story unfolds slowly in the memory of all the characters is quite interesting and captivating.

My only issue with the book was that all the characters in the story, including Lucy, are all very unlikable. However, it is a sign of Heath’s skill as a storyteller that, in spite of it, I was completely hooked into the story and rooted for Lucy throughout. This book is an impressive debut by Heath and I can’t wait to read more of her work.

This book gets 4 out of 5 stars.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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