Set over a long weekend in East Anglia, Blake Morrison's new novel is the chilling story of a rivalrous friendship - as told with deceptive casualness by the narrator, Ian. It opens with a surprise phone call from an old university friend, inviting Ian and his wife, Em, for a few days by the sea. Their hosts, Ollie and Daisy, are a golden couple, and the scene is set for sunlit relaxation. But dangerous tensions quickly emerge.
In taut, lucid prose, with flashes of wit and moments of troubling uncertainty, Blake Morrison perfectly conveys the stifling atmosphere of a remote cottage in the hottest days of summer. Ominous revelations from Ian's past slowly intrude. And his rivalry with Ollie intensifies as they resurrect a seemingly forgotten bet made twenty years before. Each day becomes a series of challenges for higher and higher stakes, setting in train actions that will have irreversible consequences.
The Last Weekend is a deftly crafted page-turner, where little can be taken for granted and nothing is quite as it seems. It offers a dark, haunting tale of friendship, sexual passion and jealousy - and confirms Blake Morrison's reputation as one of Britain's most talented writers.