Mystery/Thriller

Review: An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

Which reads like a murder mystery reminiscent of a novel by Agatha Christie.


I’ve had a very interesting relationship with Shari Lapena in that I have pretty much disliked all of her previous books. And yet, I am always intrigued by the premise of whatever books she puts out and I find myself gravitating towards them. I was a little worried when I decided to give this book a chance.  But let me just say … I FINALLY STRUCK GOLD! Here are my thoughts:

An Unwanted Guest book cover

An Unwanted Guest

by Shari Lapena

Published June 26, 2018 by Penguin Random House USA Xex
ISBN: 0525557628

Data from Goodreads

Summary (Goodreads): 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 all 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 – it looks like an accident. But when a second guest dies, everyone starts 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

My Review

The Pros: What worked for me

  • This book was very reminiscent of a novel by Agatha Christie. I could imagine this story in a Poirot or Miss Marple case. And you know what? I’m not mad about it. It’s a style that works and if it’s doing a good job, then why knock it? So I really enjoyed the style of the story.
  • I liked the different characters and their interactions with each other. Were they all very unique? No. But they weren’t extremely redundant so I wasn’t too upset about it. I thought that their POVs were well done and it definitely took me a while to figure out the identity of the killer.
  • I also thought the plot moved along at  a very good pace, with killings happening often enough to keep me interested. Each death brought on more intrigue and more erratic behaviour from the remaining guests. I think this could have been ramped up, too, with everything becoming a crazy mess near the end.

The Cons: What I didn’t like

  • The idea of (Click to reveal spoiler) there being another person in the hotel was intriguing and I wish that had been explored more; it was mentioned at one point but then it disappeared from thought.
  • Although the tension and fear was palpable as the story progressed, everyone was still quite composed and I would have preferred to see a disintegration of their carefully maintained behaviour.

Altogether, I had quite a good experience with this novel. I thought the story was solid, the motives were interesting, and the tension kept increasing as the story went on. This wasn’t perfect: there could have been more of a breakdown, and the characters could have been more unique with less repetitive dialogue. But for the most part, I enjoyed the story. For that reason, I’m giving it a 3/5 stars!

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