Review Blog

Jan 06 2020

An unwanted guest by Shari Lapena

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Transworld, 2019. ISBN: 9780552174879. 320pp.
(Age: Adult) Recommended. What a thrill to try and work out 'who dunnit' in this nod to the locked room mystery genre. Instead of a room, Lapena has put a group of guests who don't know each other into a luxurious boutique hotel in a remote forested area. Then a blizzard causes all roads into the hotel to be closed and the electricity is cut off, and it becomes totally isolated from the outside world. Suspense and tension grows as the guests begin to be murdered, one by one, suspicion falling in turn on each one of the guests, leaving the reader desperately trying to figure out who has committed the crimes among a myriad of red herrings and alarming back stories of the guests.
Easy to read in one or two sittings, Lapena has developed her guests so well that the reader feels that they know them and their fears and feelings. It is very difficult to work out just who could be the murderer as each character has strengths and flaws which Lapena skilfully describes as the body count grows. Each murder has different characteristics - a fall down the stairs, a drug overdose, and a bashed head, all of which makes it hard to know if there is more than one person on a killing spree or a stranger lurking in the hotel picking off the guests. And that twist at the end! What a well-constructed and satisfying finale to a great read.
I really enjoyed this book and will be sure to pick up other books by this best-selling author. Fans of Adrian McKinty and Ruth Ware may enjoy this book.
Pat Pledger

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