cover image The Last Party

The Last Party

Cassidy Lucas. Harper, $16.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-301848-8

Barreling toward her big five-oh, Santa Monica esthetician Dawn Sanders, the protagonist of the pseudonymous Lucas’s entertaining sophomore effort (after 2020’s Santa Monica), is beyond surprised when long-estranged BFF, TV star Mia Meadows, throws her a birthday weekend at the idyllic Celestial Ranch atop Topanga Canyon. From the outset little goes according to Mia’s plan—nude footrace in the meadow at 10 a.m! DMT (a drug that “simply gives you access to your own deep consciousness for a few minutes”) under the full moon! psychic readings on demand!—for an event reuniting the once tightly knit members of a therapy group for parents of children with spectrum disorders, and that’s even before some memorable mayhem resulting from the escalating war between the husband and wife who own the isolated ranch. Feelings flare, tempers fray, power fails, and Dawn starts to get the alarming sense her erstwhile friends may be out to settle some long-simmering scores with her. Lucas builds tension through the skillful interweaving of a pair of subplots, and succeeds in satirizing characters who richly deserve it without losing sight of their humanity. Liane Moriarty fans will be pleased. (Apr.)