Thursday, December 28, 2023

Book Review: An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena


Goodreads Overview:

We can't choose the strangers we meet.

As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell's Inn, they're all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance.

Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.

With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in - or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There's a killer among them - and nowhere to run.

Until we find ourselves in a situation we can't escape. Trapped.

Jacque's Review:

This was a highly entertaining murder mystery along the lines of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. The story takes place at a family run Inn located in a very remote part of the Catskill Mountains. A father and son operate the Inn, which sounds like a very elegant and relaxing place for a weekend getaway, until a storm cuts off all power and the guests become stranded. 

I found it difficult to fathom that a place like this did not have a generator or a snowmobile in case of emergencies, but they did not. Everyone was making the best of things and expected the power to be restored in a reasonable amount of time, but it was not. They did not have cell service and the land lines were out, so they were completely isolated until plows could make it up the mountain.

One of the guests is found dead in the morning from an apparent accident, but one of the other guests isn't so sure. He insists on leaving the body where it is until help arrives. When a second person is found dead, everyone starts to panic. They begin pointing fingers at each other and actions become even more irrational. They establish a buddy system, not only for their own safety, but to provide an alibi in case someone else turns up dead.

The body count continued to increase, and I still had no idea who the killer was or what the motivation could be. In retrospect, I can think of clues for all of the murders except the first and last. What kicked off this entire chain of events wasn't something the reader could have known until everything was spelled out at the end, which I didn't care for. I believe a good murder mystery should provide all of the clues during the story to allow the reader to solve the crime on their own, if they are astute enough to pick up on all of the small details.

Overall, it was an entertaining story with an interesting group of characters. If you enjoy Ruth Ware's murder mysteries and are looking for something with a similar vibe, this is a good option. 

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