REVIEW: AN UNWANTED GUEST, BY SHARI LAPENA

 

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.

My Thoughts: A beautiful weekend retreat sounds perfect to those in An Unwanted Guest. But no wi-fi or cell phone reception does put a bit of a damper on things for them all.

Then a storm comes and the power goes out. While the owner and his son do everything to make them all as comfortable as possible, they do feel a bit annoyed. So when the first guest turns up dead at the bottom of the stairs, anxiety descends. Shortly afterwards, a second guest is strangled in her room.

As they all search to see if anyone outside has come in without their knowledge, we sense the heightened fear as they find nothing. Then they all look around at one another, with the horrifying thought: it is one of them. Paranoia abounds as the hours pass by, with no way to call the police.

I loved the guessing game of “who among us is the killer?” Since they were all relative strangers before the weekend, they are at a loss about their companions. Even those who were part of a couple are starting to question if they really know that person. Without wi-fi they can’t even Google anyone.

Before the weekend ends, three more will be dead, and the police, finally on the scene, narrow down the search…and arrest one of them. I liked the part where the killer filled us in through an internal monologue after the arrest. We learn the motive and the how of it. One more “killer” shares thoughts at the end. Another piece that might later be solved. 4.5.

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