An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena
Friday, 4:45 p.m.
The road curves and twists unexpectedly as it leads higher and deeper into the Catskill Mountains, as if the farther you get from civilization, the more uncertain the path. The shadows are deepening, the weather worsening. The Hudson River is there, appearing and disappearing from view. The forest that rises on either side of the road has a lurking quality, as if it might swallow you whole; it is the forest of fairy tales. The softly falling snow, however, lends it all a certain postcard charm.
Gwen Delaney grips the steering wheel tightly and squints through the windshield. She's more one for grim fairy tales than picture postcards. The light is going; it will soon be dark. The snow coming down makes driving more difficult, more tiring. The flakes hit the glass in such profusion that she feels as though she's stuck in some kind of relentless video game. And the road is definitely becoming more slippery. She's grateful that she has good tires on her little Fiat. Everything is turning into a white blur; it's hard to tell where the road ends and the ditch begins. She'll be glad when they get there. She's beginning to wish they'd chosen an inn a little less remote; this one is miles from anywhere.
An Unwanted Guest comes out today in the US and I liked it - quite a lot, actually. I'm always up for a good 'locked room' mystery, and it doesn't hurt that this one also has some aspects of Agatha Christie's famous play, The Mousetrap. It's not the same - let's say that right off the bat - but there are some similarities. A winter storm, a bunch of characters that are heading to a remote guest inn, being cut off because of the weather, lots of secrets, and then, of course, bodies. Is it murder or accident? If murder, is the killer from outside or here among us? I love this! A puzzle within a puzzle.
I read Shari Lapena's first book, The Couple Next Door, and liked it. I haven't read her second, A Stranger in the House, as yet. However, I'll do that before long and I'll be watching for what she'll write next. If you like Christie's way of telling a story, I suspect you might like this one too. It's contemporary, but not too horribly gruesome. Yes, I guessed the ending, but that never bothers me. It makes me feel like a good detective. If you decide to read it, I'll be curious what you think.
It's winter in the Catskills and Mitchell's Inn, nestled deep in the woods, is the perfect setting for a relaxing--maybe even romantic--weekend away. It boasts spacious old rooms with huge woodburning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a good murder mystery.
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.
Soon, though, one of the guests turns up dead--it looks like an accident. But when a second guest dies, they start to panic.
Within the snowed-in paradise, something--or someone--is picking off the guests one by one. And there's nothing they can do but hunker down and hope they can survive the storm.
I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the book, Kay. Lark and I have scheduled to read this book for our next buddy read in September and I can't wait to dive into it already.ReplyDelete
I'm excited that you and Lark are reading it, Melody. I'll watch for what you think about it.Delete
Why do we love these isolated locations? I'm always drawn to this premise and if it is snowed-in--all the better!ReplyDelete
I think I understand the snow - so different for us, right? LA and TX, not so much snow.Delete
Oh wow, I loved this authors last book and wasn't aware of a new one. Sounds like a must try for me.ReplyDelete
I hope you get to try it soon, Diane. And I'll be curious what you think about it.Delete
I really liked The Couple Next Door but have read mixed things about this one so can't decide if I want to read it.ReplyDelete
I can understand that, Kathy. I think you liked The Couple Next Door more than I did as I recall.Delete
Interesting that you compare it to The Mousetrap - I've seen a few people compare it to And Then There Were None. Obviously a serious Christie vibe going on!ReplyDelete
I thought of And Then There Were None too, but I think The Mousetrap jumped into my head first. It was the snow and isolation.Delete
Like Melody said, this is our next buddy read in September. So I'm really glad you didn't hate it. :)ReplyDelete
I'm glad I didn't hate it either. That being said, if I had hated it, I wouldn't have talked about it here. I don't finish books I hate. Ha!Delete
You are so dangerous for my willpower Kay - I like the sound of this one, especially the echoes of The Mousetrap (which I've seen three times each a decade apart)ReplyDelete
The Mousetrap connection was the snow and isolation. I'd love to see that play. I've read it more than once.Delete
So between your great review and my sister raving about her books, I guess I need to be checking out Shari Lapena!ReplyDelete
Happily, her books are standalones and so you can start anywhere.Delete
I haven't read this author but I'm glad it was a winner for you!ReplyDelete
I enjoyed it, Mary!Delete
I enjoyed Stranger in the House and will pick this one up too.ReplyDelete
I think you'd like this one, Nise'.Delete
This is definitely a must-read for me. I'm glad you liked it -- that makes me even more eager to read it!ReplyDelete
I think you'd like it, Susan. Especially in summer - the snow, you know?Delete
I like the "locked room" premise of this one too, and I've been looking forward to it ever since I heard about it. Glad to hear it's good! I'll be reading this one soon. :)ReplyDelete
I hope you enjoy it. I thought she did a good job with the 'locked room'.Delete
Snowed in, 'locked room' - what's not to like?! So glad you enjoyed it as well Kay!ReplyDelete
Exactly! Our minds work the same way.Delete
I really liked it.Delete
Didn't care for her second book but I had no idea she had another one out. Seems like this author and B.A. Paris come out with a book every 8-12 months or so.ReplyDelete
Yes, she's on a definite path - one a year or so.Delete
With the Agatha Christie comparison you know there's no way I can resist! I've seen this author but have always hesitated. I'm really glad to know it isn't too gruesome. I'll definitely be adding this to my TBR!ReplyDelete
You ought to try this one and see what you think, Katherine.Delete
If a book is one I enjoyed then I don't mind if I guess the ending too. I like that you found this one to be reminisced of a Christie mystery. Can't go wrong with that right!ReplyDelete