Monday, August 6, 2018

Review: An Unwanted Guest

Summary: 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. -- Pamela Dorman Books

This week an anticipated novel by Shari Lapena, author of THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR, will be released. It's called AN UNWANTED GUEST and it's sure to be a favorite with Agatha Christie fans, especially those who enjoyed AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. This novel takes place in an inn in the Catskills during a horrific blizzard; and over the course of a few days, quite a few of the visitors find themselves either murdered or suspected of murder!

AN UNWANTED GUEST begins with an assorted group of people arriving at Michell's Inn. There are journalists, a lawyer, a wealthy couple engaged to be married, a couple having marital issues, and more. In what was supposed to be a weekend getaway with cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and even romance, a surprise blizzard that takes out the electricity forces them to stay inside. Of course, there's no cell phone reception due to the remote location, so basically these individuals are totally cut off from the outside world!

Even though their best-laid plans were ruined, it still could have been a cozy weekend by the fire playing games, reading books, and making new friends... but it wasn't! The next morning, a female guest is found dead at the bottom of the stairs in what looks like an accident; however, the criminal defense attorney (who just happens to have been accused of murdering his wife a few years ago!) suspects that there's something amiss. When a second guest is found dead, the guests start to think that someone among them is a murderer!

I enjoyed AN UNWANTED GUEST and I truly liked that the book almost paid homage to the great Agatha Christie. This novel had an intriguing plot and a creative murder mystery (or should I say mysteries?); however, I'm sure that it lived up to Ms. Christie (although that might not be a fair comparison!)

I don't want to give too much away but I did think the mystery was well-crafted. I started to figure out a few things about the culprit and the motive, but the plot was smart enough that I was still in the dark about pulling the entire story together. The ending was clever although I did figure out one of the twists, but perhaps I was supposed to?

I did feel as if Ms. Lapena did a great job of bringing the setting of this little inn to life. Her descriptions of the rooms as well as how she wrote about the blizzard were spot on. Even though it's miserably hot here, I was actually chilled as I read about the winds and blinding snow... and of course, the picking off of the guests one by one!

The one thing that I didn't love about this novel, though, were the characters. There were quite a few of them and I just didn't feel like they were that well developed. Normally that wouldn't matter in a book like this one, but I think a few of the characters (and really one in particular) had some issues from the past that required a little better character development. I also found that I didn't really like any of them very much, which in a way was good I guess because it made me doubt and question each one of them.

AN UNWANTED GUEST is a worthwhile read as far as murder mysteries go. Even though it doesn't quite live up Ms. Christie, it's still entertaining and will keep you guessing!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


bermudaonion said...

I really liked The Couple Next Door so I'd like to give this one a try.

Kelly-Belly said...

I will check this one out! I'm so glad I follow this blog! Thank you for keeping us up to date with these!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

sounds interesting!