The Last Invitation by Darby Kane

Darby Kane’s latest is the story of two women impacted by a strange, shady organisation of women known as the Foundation. Gabby’s ex-husband is found dead of suicide, but she feels certain that it’s murder, and Jessa is a divorce lawyer who used to be her friend, but who will do anything to make it in a man’s world.

The tagline on the cover suggests that the book is about a someone getting involved in something and then not being able to leave, but this is not really the case. “Getting in is by invite only, getting out is impossible” The book has chapters with Gabby’s and Jessas’s stories, and then in short chapters, we are also given glimpses into The Foundation. The Foundation is voting on letting a new member in, and there isn’t a consensus. So the course of the book is more about if someone will get in, not about someone getting in and wanting out. We also know really early on that The Foundation comprised of women in positions of power who take out the men who abuse the system and abuse women and children. A high class vigilante group working on the inside to deliver justice. And we soon learn that if Gabby keeps saying her husband was murdered, she will be framed for the crime, and Jessa’s story is about her not being able to make it in the legal profession because the men won’t let her (to summarise).

The book opens, as thrillers do, with plenty of bold action and drama, and is like a lot of thrillers, with linked, alternating lead characters and plots. I found the Foundation to be a bit cheesey and under developed. It seems very on the nose, 2020’s that it’s all a big conspiracy, with discredited journalists, revenge fantasies and one demographic being the bad guys and getting all the breaks. Reality isn’t black and white. (As someone wise once said, the essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity). But as far as it goes, it’s not a bad concept.

It’s a little overlong. I felt like a lot could have been cut and tightened up, and I did find my mind wandering a few times while reading it. Also, some of it was quite heavy handed. There’s a moment where a character talks about how the victims died and it’s all stuff that would be hard to cover up: a man who doesn’t own a boat is drowned, a man who doesn’t own a gun shoots himself. Lawyers all go to great lengths to discredit each others personal lives and the journalist is pretty bad at his job if he’s running around like a conspiracy theorist with no evidence. A lot of people are really bad at their jobs in this book.

For me, this book was kind of middling. I didn’t hate it. It could have been better, if it was edited a little more, perhaps, but it was entertaining enough and the shady secret society concept is always amusing. I think I guessed a few of the major twists, but they weren’t badly executed. This one just didn’t stand out from the pack for me, but that said, if this is your genre, maybe it’s one to try out and see what you think for yourself.

Read It If: a fairly standard mystery/thriller in my opinion, not breaking new ground or standing out from the pack too much, but it’s not bad overall.

Thank you to the publisher for the ARC of this book for review.


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