The Dinner Guest
reviewed by Cara DiCostanzo
Welcome to dinner at the Allerton-Jones household. Dinner might be delicious, but you probably won’t walk out alive.
Charlie and Matthew Allerton-Jones are leading the perfect life. They are popular, wealthy, and handsome, doting on their fifteen-year-old son, Titus. Until Rachel enters their lives, culminating in the murder of Matthew, with Rachel confessing to the murder. What went wrong and how did Matthew end up on the wrong end of a knife?
One year prior to Matthew’s murder, The Allerton-Jones family is out shopping when they run into Rachel, as she grabs for the same book as Charlie. Strangely enough, they run into her again a few hours later at another location. Charlie is immediately suspicious but Matthew, being open and inviting, tells Rachel about their book club and invites her to come. From the moment Charlie catches Rachel inside their bedroom, their entire life begins to unravel, as Rachel has a plan—and it has been set in motion.
The Dinner Guest is told from the point of views of both Rachel and Charlie and begins 11 months before the murder. The plot switches back and forth between the present, after the murder of Matthew, and one year before. While the book felt like a quick read, it is suspenseful and hard to put down. While we know who is murdered from the first page, and we know who the murderer isn’t, it definitely caught my attention. There were so many false clues, they kept us guessing until the very last chapter.
Most characters in this book are not at all likeable, with the exception of one or two. Matthew and Charlie both grew up with immense privilege, and their families and friends are all very wealthy and snobbish. There is reckless behavior, including drugs, alcohol, and teenage sex. Most of this behavior comes from Titus, their teenage son. I believe Titus is the most manipulative and also the most interesting character in The Dinner Guest. While he seems like your typical teenage boy in the beginning, though with a sound head on his shoulders, nothing is what it seems with him.
There is a sense of paranoia throughout, from most characters, suspicious of each other. The brilliance of The Dinner Guest is that none of the characters are who they seem to be. Everything is explained towards the end, but the surprise of characters and their motives gave this book such a satisfying end, even if the ending of the book is not cut and dry. The last chapter is unsettling at best and will definitely make you look at your friends and family differently.