Wednesday, October 3, 2018

An Unwanted Guest

An Unwanted Guest

An Unwanted Guest was a pleasant surprise and an awesome mystery set in a luxurious country inn in the Catskills. Ten guests come together for a weekend but are snowed in by a terrible storm, and deaths occur- and because there is no cell phone coverage, there is no way to get help. The guests, as well as the inn's owner and his son, are cut off- and a killer is among them. I'm always a fan of a locked room type thriller, and this one totally delivered. How likely is it in this day and age that people would be totally cut off like this? Well, it's pretty unlikely I suppose, but it works somehow, given the circumstances. And usually a story like this is set in an earlier time period, before cell phones and all that, so I give the author props for making it work in a modern context.

This was a fast read, and part of the reason for that is the constantly shifting POV's. That might not sound great if you're a reader who hates multiple viewpoints, but here I thought it worked. We get everyone's perspective, and while there's a good chance that at least one of the POV's is a killer, I thought the author did a great job keeping me guessing. It all made sense in the end, and I did not see the killer coming. I've seen a few reviews that expressed disappointment with the ending, but I thought it totally worked. And as hard as it can be to get to know characters when you're constantly switching POV's, I did feel like I got a pretty good handle on most of the guests. I may not have known who did it, but I had a pretty good idea who didn't, based on the writing.

The inn itself is amazing- can I go there? - with sitting rooms and a cozy library, fireplaces in the rooms, a grand staircase- and the place just oozes quaint atmosphere. The guests include a couple looking for a naughty weekend, an engaged couple, an older couple looking to perhaps repair their marriage, and a couple of single friends, as well as an author writing a book and an attorney. None of them have met, and over the course of a harrowing weekend they will learn more about each other- and themselves- than they ever wanted to know. I like how effortlessly Shari Lapena gets us inside their heads, and makes each character compelling. The POV's sometimes change multiple times in a chapter, but don't let that throw you- it just flows effortlessly.

The inn and the storm are almost characters as well, since they very much influence the turn of events. The author throws in enough red herrings and misdirection to keep readers on their toes, without overdoing it. And I felt like the characters mostly worked and were convincing- the only one I was a little iffy on was a journalist with PTSD. I thought the PTSD was handled well, I just didn't get Riley's character overall. Otherwise I was absorbed in the characters and their ruminations as they struggled with what was happening around them.

There's a surprise too at the end that I loved. Not only did I not see the killer coming but this surprise was an ironic little twist that totally made me smile. Can't say much other than that but the phrase what goes around comes around came to mind. This is one of the more enjoyable thrillers I've read of late and I highly recommend it for a fast- paced, entertaining murder mystery. 

37 comments:

  1. I really need to get a copy of this to read for my winter chills challenge!

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    1. I think it would be a good 'un.

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  2. I'm seeing this one around quite a bit recently (one of my favorite BookTubers just reviewed it, as well). Kudos to La Pena for making the 'cut off from all help' aspect work in modern times. That's tough to do. And I'm usually a fan of multiple POVs so that's a bonus. Love hearing that both the killer and the twist were a surprise!

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    1. Yes, I loved the multiple POV's! And she did a really good job of making the cut off from help work- I really enjoyed this one!

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  3. I love locked room mysteries too. Although the storm trapping everyone seems a little cliche, I can see how this would be a page turner😁

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    1. Yes, it was a bit- I mean I rolled my eyes at the storm- but I loved that it was such a throwback!

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  4. This sounds great! I read a mystery recently that also had multiple POV and I thought it was fun to try and get clues from each person.

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    1. Yes that was one of my favorite parts- trying to determine who did it from the different POV's!

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  5. Surprises are good. Especially if karma is served :-)

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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  6. I need to read this one! I keep reading mostly good things, and I really like these type of locked-rooms mysteries.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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  7. that's great that you didn't find the killer and I'm even more curious about the surprise at the end

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    1. The surprise was REALLY a surprise!

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  8. Ooo… This sounds like a great thriller; one that keeps you on your toes. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. I’ve seen several bloggers talking about this one. It sounds fun. I like that the weather and setting are like characters too.

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    1. Oh the place is cool but eerie when there's no power! And the weather- definitely. I am felt cut off just reading!

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  10. You've made me want this. I'll have to see if I can snag an audio because I am SO behind with my print books right now. Great review, Greg!

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    1. This could be a good audio depending on the narrator!

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  11. 10 guests? Like that Christie novel? ANyway, ohhhh chilling

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  12. I just read this one! It's a great read, isn't it? I was surprised at how well the shifting POVs worked. I was afraid at first that I'd get confused by the number of characters, but I never did. And that twist at the end? I liked that, too! Great review. :D

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    1. Yes glad you liked it too haha! And same here- as fast as the POV's changed, I thought she might stumble, but she kept it together!

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  13. That sounds quite good. I like a good murder mystery.

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  14. This sounds SO GOOD! I've seen quite a few good reviews for it, and I'm glad to hear you loved it, too!

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  15. I really loved the description of the inn too! No wifi would be a bit of a drag, but if you wanted a few days away to relax, it's like the perfect place...minus the murders of course, lol. This one kept me guessing all the way through!

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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  16. You almost made my Murder Mystery hateing heart want to read this book, and that's saying something. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 👍✨

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  17. I enjoyed this one as well! The concept is perfect for a thriller and Lapena really did describe the inn perfectly. I would love to visit as well. However, I hope that my visit would be more relaxing. ;)

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  18. I think, because of how we're always connected nowadays, it makes stories like this even more unsettling, because we don't like to imagine being completely cut-off.

    Multiple POVs can definitely work well for some stories. Glad to hear it was so well-written and that you couldn't figure out the killer but still thought it all made sense at the end.

    The inn itself does sound great!

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  19. This sounds really good and I like the idea that one of the POVs is likely the killer. There's also something about an inn in the Catskills that makes this sound like a great fall/winter read.

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  20. This sounds like just the kind of thriller I enjoy! And it’s good to know that all the characters’ perspectives don’t get confusing because I usually like hearing from multiple characters that way if it’s done well. Terrific review!

    Jennifer Tar Heel Reader

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  21. This sounds like one to keep you on the edge of your seat and I love that the end surprised you. Great review!

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  22. Thrillers like this make me feel claustrophobic, but I think that means it's working as a thriller!

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  23. Reading your summary of this one made me think of And Then There None by Agatha Christie. I totally get that vibe and I am glad the setting of the inn is so good - you definitely need that with an isolated setting kind of book. I do like multiple viewpoints and this pretty much sounds perfect for me to read :D Great review!

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  24. YAY!! I cannot wait to read this one! I have it sitting in my TBR stack :)

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  25. I'm really curious about this book, even more so after reading your review. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

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