Unwanted Guest
by Lapena, Shari

"A weekend retreat at a cozy mountain lodge is supposed to be the perfect getaway. But when the storm hits, no one is getting away. 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"-

Shari Lapena worked as a lawyer and as an English teacher before turning to writing fiction. A Stranger in the House, as well as Lapena's suspense debut, The Couple Next Door, were both New York Times and international bestsellers.

A snowy getaway in the Catskills sounds like just the ticket for a disparate group of travelers, including a single attorney, troubled friends planning a girls' weekend, two couples ready for some romance and another on the brink of a breakup, and a writer looking for some solitude. It all goes awry, however, when an ice storm traps the visitors in Mitchell's Inn, even after one of their numbers dies. Was she murdered? Is someone else next? Nobody knows, and as the electricity and heat shut off, and communication with the outside world becomes impossible, things turn increasingly sinister. This mystery is unusual in that the events leading up to the investigation take many more pages than the investigation itself. While the ending is abrupt, the drawing out of events preceding it is effective, with Lapena (The Couple Next Door?, 2016) creating a goosebump-raising atmosphere as the darkness and malevolence stretch on. This compelling and realistic modern take on the country-house mystery will gain new fans for the author and is definitely one to hand to devotees of Agatha Christie (and her modern interpreter, Sophie Hannah). Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

It's murder o'clock at a secluded, snowed-in Catskills resort. Winter in the Catskills is just the time and place for a woodsy mountain getaway, at least for this ensemble cast. When the Mitchell's Inn's weekend guests arrive, "all is covered in a pure, muffling white snow," and they are ready to relax. It's not to be. The first evening, Dana Hart tumbles down the grand staircase to her death. It seems to be an accident, but David Paley's lawyerly instincts lead him to suspect murder. Unfortunately, phone lines are down because of the ice storm raging outside, and the police can't be called. Even worse, there's no power and no generator backup. They're stuck with a dead body, and of course, they really shouldn't move it to preserve evidence. As the group attempts to make the best of the situation, they begin to realize that nasty secrets aren't the exception among them but rather the rule, and as those secrets are revealed, paranoia takes hold. When more guests begin to die i n suspicious ways, panic spreads, and any good sense that remained among the group blows away in the frigid winter wind. Readers who prefer likable characters won't find many here, except perhaps Candace White, an author who was hoping for a quiet place to write her new book. Lapena's (A Stranger in the House, 2017) very loose take on Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None further suffers from choppy, repetitive prose and an uninspiring reveal. Dame Agatha did it much, much better. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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