”An Unwanted Guest” by Shari Lapena

This book first hit my radar via Instagram, mainly because I recognized the author’s name. I had read The Couple Next Door a few years ago, and remembered I wasn’t entirely impressed. When I looked up the author on Goodreads, it turns out I have also read Lapena’s A Stranger In The House, which I forgot about entirely. While I thought the synopsis of this new book sounded intriguing, because of my indifference with the author’s previous work, I didn’t really give this book much thought. Then one day a co-worker was talking about a good book that she had just finished, and sure enough it was this book. She offered to lend it to me, so I figured I would give it a try.

This novel takes place in the Catskills Mountains at Mitchell’s Inn, where a group of guests are stuck indoors thanks to a large snow storm, creating icy roads and whiteout conditions. The storm has knocked out the power, meaning no phones, no cell phone reception, and no Wi-Fi. There is also no access to snow machines, and even if there was, the weather is just too treacherous. They are completely cut off from the outside world. There are only 10 guests and 2 staff members at the Inn, and they settle in with candles and blankets to ride out the storm. In the morning after their first night there, the body of one of the guests is found dead at the bottom of the stairs. Did she fall? Or was she murdered? If murdered, which one of the remaining guests or staff could have killed her, and why?

This is by far my favourite book by Lapena to date! It was very Agatha Christie-esque, very suspenseful and fast paced, yet mostly character driven. The characters are interesting, each with a secret, each at the Inn to escape something, and their development really drives the story between the short bursts of action. It was a nice, simple, quick read, and I burned through it in an evening. I figured out the mystery before the big reveal, but it wasn’t my first guess… or even my second! I like that it surprised me. Overall, it was clever, a good whodunit that kept me guessing! I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for the next novel by this Canadian author.

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