My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Published: August 7th, 2018
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
It’s winter in the Catskills and the weather outside is frightful, but Mitchell’s Inn is so delightful! The cozy lodge nestled deep in the woods is perfect for a relaxing–maybe even romantic–weekend away. The Inn boasts spacious old rooms with huge wood-burning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a book and someone you love. So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity–and all contact with the outside world–the guests settle in for the long haul. The power’s down but they’ve got candles, blankets, and wood–a genuine rustic experience! Soon, though, a body turns up–surely an accident. When a second body appears, they start to panic. Then they find a third body.
Two years ago, I read Shari Lapena’s debut – The Couple Next Door – and although I thought it was somewhat thrilling, it didn’t make enough sense to me to consider it a realistic mystery novel.
I passed on her 2017 book – A Stranger in the House – just because it seemed like the sort of story that’s been written a hundred times in the past. But I couldn’t skip An Unwanted Guest too.
No, I couldn’t. Because if there’s one thing I love, it’s mystery combined with survival, and this one sure delivers. I also couldn’t because this sounded like a contemporary version of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (which the author is entirely aware of) and Agatha is a badass writer.
The premise: Strangers arrive at an inn. They all expect different experiences and outcomes from this vacation, but unfortunately the weather has other plans for them. They are all snowed/stormed in. No one can leave, and to top it all off, there is no power.
But wait, that’s not it. One by one, the people inside the inn die and no one knows who the killer is. They each suspect one another, but the authorities can’t come due to the weather, so they’ll have to sleep next to a murderer for who knows how long.
This was such an exciting story and read so well. Having read this author’s debut, as mentioned above, I can tell you that Ms. Lapena has improved her skills. Not only is her writing better – a bit more professional and mature – she has also improved her denouements, making them more believable and thus more satisfying in a way.
Read it, read it, read it.
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