Four married couples, all old friends, get together for a dinner party, as they have done many times before. However, this time, in addition to the usual food and wine, conversation and minor arguments, they decided to play a trust game, meant to help ease disagreements between couples and relieve guilt. Instead, the game causes fear and suspicion, leading to terrible consequences.
The Dinner Party (not to be confused with the somewhat lighter Dinner Party by Tracy Bloom), is a decent thriller that starts out well but doesn't really live up to its promise. Readers should be warned that there is a fair bit of violence as well as themes of sexual assault, domestic violence and suicide.
The author, R. J. Parker, usually writes true crime books and in retrospect, this novel has a bit of a true crime vibe to it, in the way that real people do things that don't always make sense or create a satisfying narrative. It's told from the point of view of Ted, who co-hosted the dinner party with his wife, Juliette, and follows his life over the next few days as they deal with the consequences of the party.
Some parts of the early chapters don't fit with what is said later, in a way that feels more of a cheat than a clever ruse, and the ending just felt silly to me. Other than Ted, none of the characters are very fleshed out, so I found it hard to care about them (which was just as well, as things turned out). I will say that this book did make me want to keep reading to find out what happened next, but I was ultimately disappointed when I did.
The Dinner Party is a quick read with an interesting premise, but unfortunately, it just didn't thrill me.
Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Harper Impulse and Killer Reads, in exchange for an honest review. Published: October 18, 2019.