The Fury by Alex Michaelides reminded me very much of Benjamin Stevenson’s Ernest Cunningham books, particularly Everyone on This Train is a Suspect, as our narrator is one of the main characters in the story… playing quite a central role and speaking to us (as if in second person) in a very conversational way. Although it has to be said that our host here, playwright Elliot, is more arrogant than Stevenson’s novelist Ernest.
by Alex Michaelides
Published by Michael Joseph
Source: Penguin Random House Australia
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Psychological Thriller
One spring morning, reclusive ex-movie star Lana Farrar invites a small group of her closest friends for a weekend away, on her small private island, just off the coast of Mykonos.
Beneath the surface, old friendships conceal violent passions and resentments. And in forty-eight hours, one of them will be dead.
But that was just the beginning...
I like this form of narration and the sense of being privy to a conversation as it’s easier to engage us and that’s certainly the case here… reading (listening) as Elliot recollects the events of the weekend. He even comments that we could be at a bar and having a drink.
He’s not entirely likeable as a character, but there’s a charm to his story-telling… again reminding me of Benjamin Stevenson’s Ernest.
This is the third book I’ve read by Michaelides and though I’d remembered (the very popular) The Silent Patient, I’d forgotten I’d also read The Maidens, his second book. Like those, this is a very twisty-read as it’s very much centred around secrets (and secret-keeping) and attempts to unveil those secret-keepers. It’s akin to a locked-room mystery as we’ve got a limited number of players, though Elliot declares he will not be doing the great whodunnit reveal a la Agatha Christie style, rather he tells us this is a whydunnit.
Unexpectedly the former star and centre-of-the-circle Lana was probably the most likeable character in the book. We learn she retired at the height of her fame, leaving Hollywood and the spotlight to raise her son. And of course now he’s finishing school she’s starting to feel more redundant. Our other characters also come with several layers of complexity and lots of baggage. Lana’s friend and fellow actor (though predominantly on the stage) Kate, Lana’s second husband Jason, her son Leo and then there’s her assistant and mother-figure Agathi. And in Greece we’re also introduced to the island’s caretaker Niko, who is nursing a not-so-little crush on his employer. And finally of course there’s Elliot, who we learn met Lana while he was still the young love (ahem, toyboy ostensibly) of a famous novelist.
Elliot explains that he and Lana were drawn to each other, both feeling like outsiders amongst the rich and famous (though Lana was both). Of course we’re still only privy to what Elliot shares with us, and how he perceives what’s happening around him.
Damn. There I go again – already worming my way back into the narrative. It seems that, despite my best intentions, I’m failing to keep myself out of Lana’s story. Perhaps I should admit defeat – accept we are inseparably intertwined, she and I, knotted up like a ball of matted string, impossible to tell apart or disentangle. p 9
Michaelides throws in multiple twists here, including a good ol’ double cross or two, and when we think we’ve got the answers and know who’s dead and who’s done it… there’s more.
Michaelides again references Greek mythology and the private island (gifted to Lana by her wealthy elderly movie mogul first husband) is named Aura, a Greek goddess meaning ‘morning air’ or ‘breeze’, or… if at its most ferocious, ‘the fury’ (translated into English).
I enjoyed this and certainly recommend it as I didn’t see most of the twists coming. However… I have to admit I would have liked it more had it ended a little differently. Though justice is done, the lack of ‘justness’ rendered me kinda dissatisfied when I closed the book.
The Fury by Alex Michaelides will be published in Australia by Penguin Books in late January 2024.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.