Book Reviews

An Unwanted Guest

Author: Shari Lapena
Published: August 7, 2018 by Pamela Dorman Books
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Hardcover: 290
My Rating: 3 stars

A weekend retreat at a cozy mountain lodge is supposed to be the perfect getaway . . . but when the storm hits, no one is getting away.

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.

This is Shari Lapena’s third novel, but the first that I have read. When I read that it takes place during a blizzard, where all the electricity goes out, in a remote hotel, with a limited number of guests, and people start getting killed off, I knew I had to read this one. I’m a sucker for an atmospheric ‘locked room’ mystery. It reminded me of Agatha Christie’s novel And Then There Were None. The claustrophobic setting, the unexpected deaths, the limited number of suspects, the influence of the stormy weather – all classic ingredients that when strung together make for a fun read. But you must take this book with a grain of salt. When bodies start dropping like flies, it’s kind of comical.

For a book that’s under 300 pages long, character development was pretty good, too. With twelve characters weaving in and out of the pages, surprisingly, I had no trouble keeping them all straight. They were each drawn distinctly.

It’s a fast past, fluid read, told from each character’s point of view in alternating sections. It’s not meant to be taken seriously. It’s just a fun, little romp of a cozy mystery. Was it Mrs. Peacock, with the candlestick, in the library? Or maybe Professor Plum, with the knife, in the kitchen. It’s the novel version of the game Clue!

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