**4.5 Goodreads Stars**
“How quickly and how absolutely trust – built over many years – can collapse.”
I took a break from reviewing this past month as I had several big work projects I wanted to finish. I am glad to end my review hiatus with Shari Lapena’s An Unwanted Guest, which was a thrilling whodunit mystery set in a mysteriously rustic wooded retreat.
If you enjoy Agatha Christie novels, you will love Lapena’s newest book. Much like Christie’s And Then There Were None, the cast of characters in An Unwanted Guest all have curious, intriguing backstories. The backstories are slowly revealed to the reader as guest after guest is picked off. There’s the dowdy empty-nest couple who have yet to jumpstart their relationship after devoting it to raising their children. There’s a young couple who are devastatingly attractive and appear to be passionately in love, but are perhaps hiding secrets of their own. There are two formerly close friends who have come to the resort seeking to rekindle their friendship, which begins to unravel even further as soon as their trip starts. There’s the lawyer who has been publically defamed for his wife’s death despite failing to be convicted for it. Finally, there’s the lonely writer who is trying to pen her next big hit and is seeking solitude at the remote resort in the woods.
What I enjoyed about this book is how each one of the characters could be implicated in the murders. The author reveals just enough information about each character to make you wonder about their motivations for coming to the lodge. Are they there to commit foul play? To connect with a loved one? To betray?
I also enjoyed the setting of the novel, which is at a historic hotel in the woods. An ice storm strikes the area, causing the power and phone lines to go out. Cell phone service is non-existent. The roads are impassable. Thus, the hotel guests are left to their own devices to help find the murderer before he or she (or they??) kills again.
This is a read that I finished quickly amid a busy work period. It was also my first book by Lapena. Thank you to the author, Bantam Press, and Edelweiss+ for an advanced reader copy of An Unwanted Guest.