An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

Mondays

It’s Murder and Mayhem Monday and I am super excited about this week’s book!

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I admit that I have a rocky relationship with Lapena’s books. I adored A Stranger in the House but thought The Couple Next Door was only so-so. I wasn’t sure what to expect from An Unwanted Guest and was thrilled by how much I liked it!

“We can’t choose the strangers we meet.”

Lapena has written a thriller in the style of the old school authors from the Golden Age of Mysteries. In fact, from beginning to end, An Unwanted Guest is reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None or The Mousetrap, but fresher and updated for today.

In An Unwanted Guest, we find guests arriving at the stately Mitchell Inn, nestled in the Catskills with snow gently falling. However, as the guests make their way to the Inn, the snow begins to fall harder and the wind picks up furiously. Soon, the Inn is without power and the guests are trapped until help arrives. Each of the guests also brings with them baggage of the emotional kind. There is the wealthy attorney once accused of murder; the beautiful, wealthy couple hiding secrets from their past. Gwen and Riley are college friends – Gwen with a dark secret that only Riley knows and Riley who has a severe case of PTSD. There also are two lovers hoping to make things more permanent and a married couple, one of whom wants to make things less permanent. And then there is the writer who just wants to escape from it all. When the first victim is found, these secrets begin to unravel until the terror becomes so real it is palpable even to you, the reader.

Lapena does a stellar job developing each of the characters. They are fully fleshed out and become very real. We know their secrets, their hopes, their hates and their desires. It is far easier to believe that there must be a mad-man on the loose than it is to believe that one of these guests could be responsible for the mayhem that has ensued. Well, with the exception of one of the guests, a man, for whom I had a particular dislike. Sadly, he has an alibi throughout.

There are times when An Unwanted Guest comes dangerously close to becoming “campy” and too “old school;” but, fortunately, Lapena handles those situations beautifully and the book stays well on track racing toward a thrilling conclusion. In fact, I liked this book so much that I would read it all over again just to have the pleasure of re-reading the last page which was both surprising and enormously satisfying!

If you have read Lapena in the past then this is a must-read for you. If you love Golden Era mysteries then you will find joy in An Unwanted Guest. If thrillers are your thing then this is a fast paced read that will leave you wanting more from this author. It’s a marvelous read from the start to the very last line!

I’m extremely appreciative for the opportunity to read and review this advance copy of An Unwanted Guest. My thanks to @ShariLapena, #Edelweiss and #PamelaDormanBooks.

 

The Boy at the Door

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The Boy at the Door is Scandi Noir at its finest. A debut novel by Alex Dahl, this is a dark and twisty novel that will have you on the edge of your seat from cover to cover!

Cecilia Wilborg is a perfect wife and mother with two perfect daughters. She lives in a perfect neighborhood and has the perfect job as an interior stylist. Everything in life is absolutely perfect and she works very VERY hard to make sure it stays that way. Until she is asked to take a small boy home from the pool where her daughters take lessons. It appears that the boy has been not been retrieved by his own mother. Cecilia agrees but soon finds that the address for the boy is an abandoned house and the boy is not exactly who he or his mother claims he is – or is he? Things rapidly start to spin out of control as Cecilia’s life begins to unravel. What once was perfection now has flaws and these flaws are growing at an alarming rate. Just who is The Boy at the Door and what will Cecilia do to keep her perfect life in tact? I read the book in one day to find out and I suspect you will too! This is a masterfully written suspense novel that also blends into domestic noir. Dahl has created a character that is both interesting and vile and whose story is mesmerizing until the very last paragraph of the book!

This definitely is one you won’t want to miss! If you like Scandi-noir, noir in general, suspense, mystery or domestic thrillers then this is a book for you!

Many thanks to Berkley Penguin Books for an advanced copy of this thrilling book!