Review: An Unwanted Guest

2018-10-03 07.31.58

Rating: 4 Stars

An old-fashioned murder mystery, set in an isolated hotel, where everyone is a suspect. What’s not to like in a book like this? An Agatha Christie fan like me can never get enough of these mysteries, and Shari Lapena delivers the goods most satisfactorily.

Ten people check into Mitchell’s Inn, a beautiful hotel in the Catskill Mountains, away from the crowded and busy life of the city. There is no wi-fi or mobile connectivity in this location to disturb the peace that the guests are looking for. On this particular weekend, however, the weather is horrible as a fierce storm rages outside, threatening to cut off the electricity and heat supplies. With only the owner and his son as the staff, the hotel is also short-staffed because of the storm.

But the weather is not the worst enemy that they have to face.

The first body is found lying down the stairs, seemingly having tripped. Everyone is skeptical when the possibility of a murder is raised. This skepticism doesn’t last long as they realize that they don’t know anything about each other, and that there is possibly a murderer among them.

Fast-paced and slick, this book reminded me of my favourite And Then There Were None, with the suspicion moving from one person to the next. However, that is where the similarity ended.

While Agatha Christie had strong back stories for all the characters, here the motive lacked that strength.

Everyone has something to hide, a secret which they don’t want others to know. While some secrets were really worth hiding, others seem to be made up just to move the story forward. In real life, there aren’t many people who will really care about something like this in someone’s past. But, like I said, something was needed to move the story forward.

The second weakness in the narrative was the sudden wrapping up of the whole case. I found it a bit abrupt, as I expected something better from the writer who gave us the brilliant ending of The Couple Next Door. Then again, I said the same thing about the last chapter of A Stranger In The House, so I think the bar was set so high with The Couple Next Door, that it is difficult to reach that level again.

Overall, I loved this book because of its typical murder mystery feel, and the suspense and terror it managed to create.

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