An Unwanted Guest

An Unwanted GuestAn Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena
Published by Bantam Press on July 26th 2018
Pages: 320
ISBN: 0593079647
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five-stars

A quiet weekend in the country, far away from the stress of the outside world sounds like a dream getaway! Mitchell Inn is a warm and inviting Inn which is nestled deep in the forest. Snow is covering the ground adding to the Inn’s beauty and charm. It’s a place for lovers to enjoy time together, a place where an Author can work on her book, a man can enjoy some alone time, friends can re-connect, and for a couple in an unhappy marriage can take a look at their marriage in a beautiful setting.

But the storm is unrelenting – the snow has not stopped falling and soon the roads are not drive-able. The guests and the owner and his son are trapped at the Inn for the weekend! Everyone remains in good spirits. They will make the most of it! They enjoy some drinks and make small talk in the lobby. Everyone goes to bed with hopes of still enjoying their weekend until the next morning when a body is found! It appears their relaxing weekend will not be so relaxing after all.

This was a really fun book! Not fun in the funny-I-laughed-out-loud-way but it was a fun and devilishly clever whodunit. This book is an example of a whodunit done right! Shari Lapena has created the perfect setting for this book- a beautiful inn in the middle of the woods. Such atmosphere! This book consists of interesting characters with even more interesting back stories. This is a book I want to tell everyone about but at the same time I also want to tell people to go in knowing as little as possible. I loved watching the characters try and figure out what was happening. They are trapped (by the storm), frightened and tensions are rising. There is obviously a killer in their midst, but who????

I thought every single page in this book was wonderful. I have read this Author before and enjoyed her work, but this book knocks it out of the ball park! This is a very clever and well thought out mystery. Women’s fiction my foot – this is a mystery book at its best! There is nothing graphic or gory in this book. It won’t scare or titillate but it will keep the reader guessing. Those that follow my reviews, know I like to put on my super sleuth hat and try to figure out whodunit. I did not figure it out, in case you were wondering. If there were clues, I did not see any! I couldn’t help but think of Agatha Christie while reading this book. I almost feel as if this book were an homage to Christie – that’s my thought- the Author does not say. Nevertheless, I was glued to my seat, turning the pages, and wondering what would happen next.

The sheer genius of this book is that not a lot of action takes place, the characters are trapped in the Inn, no one can get to them and they cannot get out. So, the strength of this book lies not only in the carefully thought out plot but in the characters themselves, in their dialogue, their inner thoughts and interactions with others. Each time I had to put this book down, I was disappointed. If I could have sat and read this book in one sitting, I would have. The pacing in this book was spot on! Nothing in this book is rushed, nor is it slow.

I was captivated from page one and highly recommend this book!

Thank you to Penguin Publishing Group and Edelweiss who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

five-stars

A Stranger in the House

A Stranger in the HouseA Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena
Published by Transworld Digital on July 27th 2017
ISBN: 1473541557
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three-half-stars

Tom Krupp comes home from work and realizes that his front door was not locked. What is even more alarming is that there are signs in the kitchen that his wife (Karen) was preparing dinner but now she is no longer in sight. He checks his home and his wife is not there. He becomes worries and decides to call 911. Across town (in a BAD section of town- we are told this repeatedly), a woman without any identification has driven her car into a pole.

When the police arrive at his door, Tom believes that they are responding to his 911 call, but in fact they are there to inform him that his wife has been in an accident. His wife is badly injured and does not remember what occurred leading up to her accident or why she was in that area (the bad section of town that a nice housewife should not be found in) of town.

Karen suffering from amnesia does not know why she left her home, her cell phone or her wallet behind. She is now facing charges for running into the pole and hopes to move on with her life. But wait! The police have found the body of a man shot 3 nears near the accident site. Could Karen have anything to do with the murder? Is she a suspect? Is she a witness? Was she in the wrong place at the wrong time? Is her amnesia real?

Thus begins that murder investigation where the evidence is piling up. To make matters worse, Tom and Karen’s neighbor, Brigid, has inserted herself more into their lives and into the police investigation. Is Brigid a good friend? Is she a noisy neighbor? Does she have something to gain by Karen being convicted? Tom and Karen begin to bicker as he begins to doubt her story. Plus, when she informs him that someone has been sneaking into their home and going through her things, he does not believe her.

This book slowly mounts with tension, as the reader learns more so do the investigators. Who can be trusted? What really happened that night? I enjoyed the pacing of this book. There are a couple of layers to this book and once peeled back, the secrets of various characters are revealed. Not everyone is as they seem. I thought I had this book figured out, I thought I knew from the get-go who the killer was. I was right and wrong all at the same time. Ambiguous, I know! Read for yourself!!!I really liked how the revelations came about. This book is a murder mystery/psychological thriller hybrid. I found this book to be very clever at times. I can’t really say why I feel this way without giving away too much more of the story. I especially liked when the “secret” started coming out. I would sit and read and think “Ohhh, that explains that! or Ohhh, that explains so-and-so’s behavior. I think most people will enjoy the ending. This is not a graphic or gory book so most readers will most likely enjoy it.

I enjoyed this book. It proved to be a fast read, was definitely entertaining and kept my attention.

I received a copy of this book from Penguin Group Viking and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

three-half-stars

The Couple Next Door

The Couple Next DoorThe Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
Published by Pamela Dorman Books on August 23rd 2016
Pages: 320
ISBN: 0735221081
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three-stars

The couple next door could also be titled “A couple of Knuckleheads”. Seriously, who leaves a baby home alone? You are just asking for trouble. When you ask for trouble, you get trouble.

Ann and Marco leave their six month old daughter, Cora home alone after a babysitter cancels, to attend a dinner party next door. Don’t even get me started on this…They not only leave their child home alone, they go drink, make merry, but check on the baby every half hour because they are such responsible parents (insert eye roll).

But sometime during their shifts checking on the baby and when they finally decide to head home, they discover their baby is missing. Detectives are called in to investigate Cora’s disappearance. Who is responsible? Will Cora ever be found? How did she disappear without a trace? Of course her parents are considered to be the initial suspects. Through the course of the books secrets are revealed – layers upon layers of secrets. It appears everyone in this book has a secret that can and will come out!

The premise of this book is very good. I read the description and wanted to read this. For me this book started off with great! I was drawn in from the very beginning. There really are no dull moments in this book. Things are always happening. But somewhere along the course of the book it became a little too much for my taste. I still enjoyed it. I think people who enjoy mysteries will enjoy this. There are no graphic scenes, no detailed scenes of violence, etc. so there really isn’t much here to turn off the average reader. I found the book to be good not great. The twists and turns became to be a little much.

three-stars