An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena


“It’s winter in the Catskills, and Mitchell’s Inn is the perfect setting for a relaxing – maybe even romantic – weekend away. It boasts spacious old rooms with huge wood-burning fireplaces and a well-stocked wine cellar – and is ideal for just curling up with a good murder mystery. So when a blizzard cuts off the electricity – and all contact with the outside world – the guests settle in and try to make the best of it.

Soon, though, one of the guests turns up dead – and it looks like an accident. But when a second guest dies, the others 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…and one another.”

-Synopsis from back of the book


Cove image from StoryGraph

*light spoilers ahead*

Wow was this a good read! I wanted a thriller that would keep my interest and this certainly fit the bill and then some. I was so riveted by this story, set at a small inn during a snowstorm, that I couldn’t put it down. When I did have to pause, I couldn’t stop thinking about the story and who the killer might be.

The story begins with the guests arriving at Mitchell’s Inn. Quite a few characters are introduced rather quickly, and it was a little hard at first to remember who was who. However, there were enough unique qualities about each of them that I was able to follow along pretty easily.

Everyone is staying at the inn for the weekend for different reasons, each person or couple bringing their own baggage (both literal and figurative), and each with their own hopes for how the weekend will go. When the storm arrives and the power goes out, everything changes in an instant.

The guests have to decide what to do next, with the help of the innkeeper and his son. I went back and forth between deciding which character was my favorite, who I trusted the most and the least, and who I suspected was the killer. Each character is so multifaceted that there really is no way to definitively decide who the killer is. We get glimpses inside each of their heads through rotating perspectives and they all seem innocent, and guilty, at one point or another.

“As far as I know – as far as we’ve led each other to believe – we are all strangers. But maybe that’s not the case.”

from An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

By far the best aspect of this story is the suspense. Every chapter had me on the edge of my seat. I wouldn’t recommend reading this at night, especially if you are home alone. Passages like the one below are the reason why I had to stop reading at night…

“She can’t shake the sense that there is someone else in the hotel, someone watching their every move…Suddenly she can feel him watching, knows that he is behind her, behind that black curtain, a grim reaper reaching out for her.

from An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

I was so convinced that someone was hiding in the hotel that as the characters crept around, I was just waiting for a stranger to spring up out of nowhere to claim the next victim.

The ending wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Once we find out who the killer is, it becomes a question of why they did it. And all of those questions will be answered, leading up to a satisfying end.

This story really got me in the mood for fall, and mysteries and thrillers! It was my second Shari Lapena read and it won’t be my last.

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